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Adventures in Southern India

A Fitting Beginning

INDIA | Tuesday, 5 February 2008 | Views [748] | Comments [3]

February 4th, 2008

Days of journey: 2

Lost bags: 1

Bananas eaten: 12

Indian television appearances: 1

Haircut from Noah on hostel balcony: priceless

Dear family and friends,

As we expected on an adventure like this, some unanticipated things have happened. But you never know what each day in India holds, and that is part of the fun! As Ryan, Noah's childhood friend, arrived here in the Chennai airport, Noah and I set off on foot from the HOINA girls hostel in the village of Thiruninravur (about 40 km from the city.) As we were navigating the suburban train system to get here, we get a call from Ryan. His bag has not arrived, his phone does not work, and he is not able to withdrawl money, and he has been taken to an expensive hotel away from the city . . . India was kicking his ass from the get go! Noah and I found a guest house, stashed our packs, and went on a quest to find him. All we had was a town name and a hotel name. (That seems like a lot of info, but here it is not! Chennai is made up of hundreds of towns with names like Thirumailai and Kodampuram, and using public transportation requires a high degree of cunning since no information is posted anywhere!) After hours of walking, searching, and being pointed in contradicting directions, we finally found him at the Mars Hotel. (ONE OF the Mars Hotels. Of course there are two.) Ryan handled his predicatment like a champ, and we managed to have a great afternoon eating biryani and visiting the busiest Hindu temple in Chennai.

Yesterday turned out to be probably THE craziest day of my life. In the morning we had an unexpected addition to our group. Noah's friend Kyle, who he had been traveling with in Africa, came down from northern India to join us. Our group is complete! After meeting him at the train station, we headed back to the airport to search for Ryan's bag. After another promise that it would be in "tomorrow", we headed back to Chennai. I have to admit, I was bummed to be stuck here. There is not too much to see here (especially compared to where we are planning to go!), and it's a dirty, busy city. But, we have good company and open minds, so it turned out to be an awesome day!

Apparently Chennai is a film capital of India, so we headed over to the film studios. On the bus, we met Nirmal. Nirmal is a 64 year-old ex-actor and insurance rep who has been in 25 Tamil "Kaliwood" films. Nirmal = lots of gold jewelry, gold glasses, fast-walking, and a neon orange reebok t-shirt with matching sneakers. He said he could get us into AVM studios, and he actually made good! Before we knew it we were in the front row of the studio audience of some sort of Indian talk show! Though we don't know Tamil, we hear ourselves referenced by the emcee. Talking . . . talking . . . all of a sudden music begins to blare! Everyone in the audience stands up and begins dancing the "Cobra dance" and beckoning us to join. Limbs are flying, tongues are wagging, hands are "striking", and we are getting really into it! Just as abruptly, the music stops. More talking, a commercial break, talking . . .MUSIC! The dancing begins again and this time we are dragged on stage! Suddenly we are surrounded by beautifully clad Indian women grabbing our hands and dancing with us. I am ushered onto the center rotating platform (in my grungy capris and t-shirt!) to dance with the shows host! Noah begins doing the shoulder shimmy, which they all love and begin doing too! Long and short of it, we'll be on tv Saturday at 9pm! Even though our dancing was a wild free-for-all, probably ruining their program, they loved us!

Afterwards, Nirmal took us back to his house (a gorgeous house in a great neighborhood) where his wife made us coffee (which I had to help serve as the boys stifled laughter). We talked for hours, they showed us their wedding photos and their grandkids' photos, and gave us fruit grown in thier yard. THey were so kind and hospitable! I can't imagine the same scenario happening in the US. People aren't like that! But here almost everyone is so friendly.

I'm running out of time . .. but quickly last but not least, my hair. After 5 days of sticky heat and bucket showers, my hair not rinsing out, feeling like hot straw, and getting who knows what in it on our not-so sanitary beds, I decided to chop it off. So, Noah cut my hair on the balcony of our hostel with 1 inch scissors from his sewing kit, as "YMCA" played on the radio. It is super short (about 1/2 inch). The guys say it looks good, but I absolutely HATE it. I mean, it looks awful. But it is sooo much more comfortable, and hair grows, thank God!

Well, Noah just popped in. (He says hi, family!) Success! Ryan got his bag, so we are leaving Chennai at last! I've gotta run, but I miss and love you all! Please make sure Nana sees this! Thanks!

Tags: Friends




Not how do I feel about one of my educators dancing on a rotating stage in front of a live studio audience?!?! Just kidding, have an amazing time - I'm jelous!

  Lisa Feb 7, 2008 12:34 AM


oh my gosh . . . you couldn't have done it when someone that knows how to cut with some real scissors might have cut it for you!!! haha ~ no offense pratab! i hope it looks well kamala! and like you said, it is hair, it grows back!! i have been there. when we went to egypt i did not want to deal with so i cut mine all off. look at it now-only 8 years later!!

sounds like you guys are having a blast! hoo'd a thunk that you would need to go all the way to india to become tv stars!!! i wish we could see it. i am sure it is hysterical!

keep on writing, i love it and i will MAKE SURE that you nana sees it all!

xoxo. aunt ti

  aunt titi Feb 7, 2008 12:59 AM


hey my girl,I wish I could see you.I know I would just laugh and hug you and call you "Jake". You must look like a very pretty boy. You were either very brave or very irritated to let Noah do it with sewing scissors. It'll always be a fond memory,though. Besides, cut right,you have always looked good with short hair too.

I am glad you are having such a good time. wish I could see you On T.V. Who could have imagined such a thing Happening? I hope the rest of your trip is as fun and spontanious, and that all the people are has friendly as the man who took you home for coffee. Did you 'pour out' well? (I think that is the term Mary Poppin's used when having a tea party on the ceiling.)

Your dad and I are finding our way around here. It is very pretty is it's desert like way. Sunny,but cold. Uncle Tim and Nana and Mary will be here day after tomorrow.

I miss you and love you so much....Love Mom

  Mom Feb 7, 2008 9:24 AM

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