Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chennai: A taste of the good life

Over the weekend, my roommates (Allie and Ashley) and I went to Chennai (aka Madras) for a long weekend to visit with one of my family friends, Prabhakar, and his family. The drive took about 5 hours and even though it poured the entire weekend we managed to have a brilliant time. The route to Chennai was dotted with temples, smaller towns, farms, and rocky mountains. The roads were nicely paved, but unlike the US, there aren’t rest areas and conveniences along the highways. With that, you see a lot of men just using the bathroom along the side of the highway. I’m not sure what women do – I suppose they just hold it. One thing that is pretty striking about India is that the culture definitely favors men. I find it surprising given that they have had female leaders in the past and also how progressive India is. In speaking with some of the girls that I teach, some parents are quite vocal to their own daughters about their disappointment and resentment in having a girl. It breaks my heart to think that some of my students start their lives feeling unwanted and unlucky. I think it’s a hard cultural idea for me to grasp since without girls, there wouldn’t be boys!

Prabhakar was the most gracious host. First and foremost, he shared his LIFE with us. That is, the cereal Life which he brought back from a recent trip to Malaysia. It was such a wonderful treat to have cold milk and cereal for breakfast! He also took us to the British East India factory and fort, a crocodile farm, some really cool handicraft shops, a traditional south Indian dinner at the Taj, sari shopping (yes, I bought one so my Indian friends need to have some Indian events I can wear it to when I get home), and to the movies to see the latest Tamil film, Aadhavan.

The movie was a fun experience. The process of going to the movies is quite different. You call for tickets and then someone delivers them to your door. When you get to the cinema, you sit in your assignment seats in a massive theatre. Because Indian movies are so long they have an intermission, but like US theatres, they have buckets of popcorn, soft drinks, and ice cream. Though I don’t understand Tamil, the movie seemed to follow the traditional Indian formula – a couple of fight scenes, dances, and handsome boy falls in love with beautiful girl and tries to win her over plot. The tunes were quite catchy, and the audience was singing along. I have to admit I fell asleep because it was so long.

A huge thanks to Prabhakar for hosting us over the weekend and showing us such warm Indian hospitality! You can check out his blog here.

Some pics:

Chennai after the heavy rain


  1. Vivian,

    I cant believe you slept during the movie. But I hope you got to see the climax where Surya manages to fly thro the air and grab the time bomb which would have surely killed the heroine and attach it to the bad guy's helocopter before falling(very gracefully ) into the big lake. I was clapping at that time.



  2. Vivian,

    Are you spending time with brits? You used "brilliant" and "cinema" all in one story! I am picturing you arriving back calling your cell a "mobile" and all of the other cute little british-english nuances :)

    Second, I need more more more pictures! I really enjoy your stories. It sounds like you are having a blast.

    All things good,