It may look a little different but..
22.12.2008 28 °C
Welcome back to India. After 6 years and a lot of speculation on what it still had to offer us, the sub-continent still held a promise of mystery and adventure. The love affair was rekindled.
One of the reasons that we fell for this place was that something would always astound you every day. We thought the Philippines and Indonesia would give India a run for it's money for the sheer amount of weird stuff that would happen to you but India was in good form from the off.
You know that there are cows roaming around and sleeping in the middle of busy traffic, you know that it can take a few hours just to buy a train ticket, you even know that there are nearing one billion people living in and around and on top of each other but as you take your first auto rickshaw ride through the city it still can take your breath away. I'm told India for a tourist is a bit like taking heroin, the sensation is incredible but after a while it can turn you mad. But what a rush!
We return to familiar territory taking the same first steps though the south of India as we did all those years back. Chennai had indeed changed. It seemed quieter, less busy and cleaner. India is, after all, the worlds 4th largest economy now so progress has to happen but the madness of it all is still apparent. Our first night threw up some classic India surprises. We had book a room in a hostel because we knew we were arriving after midnight but when we arrived our reservation had been forgotten about so we had to bed down in a grotty dorm with a snoring Indian guy in his pants. We later found out that the room we reserved was occupied because a wedding that was taking place had run a day over schedule (!) so we were left with dorm with no shower or toilet. We asked for a room with a toilet and the manager said he could sort one out for us. He did this by trying to kick out 12 guys in an other dorm so that the two of us could have the room. We thought this unfair and also a very odd business decision so we moved on leaving the 12 guys wondering why we were so important that they nearly all had to leave.
Mammalaporom was the next stop. A small fishing village that gets it's fare share of tourists. Apart from the sea it's surrounded by paddyfiels and ancient carvings etched into rock. Temples dot the surrounding area and long tailed Macaches lord over them as there own. Stealing bottled water from the tourist is the way of these monkeys. They know how to unscrew the lids and down the contents with ease. if you can avoid getting mugged by them it's possible just to litarly hang out with them. Sue and I spent s few good hours just sitting around with them in the evenings.
Temples are everywhere so you can spend almost all of your time exploring them. They are almost always full of devout Hindus doing, to western eyes, bizzar and colorful things to appease some of the 36,000,000 Gods. Smashing bagfuls of coconuts, feeding the temple elephant who blesses you back by placing it's trunk on your head, shaving your head and even covering your self in yellow powder.
I won't forget the first time I saw a bright yellow woman walking about the streets and it seemed that only Sue and I thought this to be strange. Nothing in India is strange to the Indians, except a tall guy with dreadlocks and a western woman. We still draw more looks than all of the other bizzar stuff that you can find roaming the streets. It's nice to be noticed but can we really compete with a bright yellow woman? Only in India.