Chennai at the beach

Chick ken Paradise

We love Marina Beach in Chennai. It's a sprawling, uniformly flat patch of sand. Few people swim on beaches in India (except, maybe, in Goa), but plenty come out to take advantage of this mostly clean public area. At twilight yesterday, the coast was a wash of orangey yellow. We cruised slowly along with the other motorcyclists and passing buses, taking it all in.

In the nicer areas, little cart vendors stud the sand alongside the road, selling things like chaat and Chinese food and "American corn." Each section also usually includes a bunch of rather homemade kids rides and games, ranging from small carousels to merry-go-rounds to balloon popping. Large groups of teenage boys hang out in circles Indian-style or lounge on colored plastic chairs, smoking joints and calling out "Hello!" ... View Post »

Dry, dry Chennai

Alcohol is exorbitantly expensive in Tamil Nadu due to local regulations, basically heavy government taxes and strict licensing. This is good for the people of Tamil Nadu, as it does bring down the alcoholism. On the other hand, how bad was it if the government has had to intervene? The rules keep changing, but right now most places that say they used to sell don't. It's not a big deal, as we've been off the sauce basically since we arrived in India.

In any case, we've given ourselves the liberty of ordering one shot of whiskey on two different occasions since our classes ended. Whiskey, go figure, is cheaper than beer around here. It's more of a gesture, really, and at the local upscale hotel right near our house it comes with a little bowl of potato chips. At a local grocery store a ... View Post »

EssayKoyambedu: Chennai's Wholesale Market

Wednesday, September 19 marked the celebration of the infamous elephant deity, Ganesha. At 4am we stole out of our apartment and down the deserted main road to meet a few classmates on a rare outing to Koyambedu, Chennai's wholesale market. The city was sleepier than I would have imagined at this wee hour, presumably the only time of night when the worlds of late-night stragglers and early morning ... View Essay »

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GalleryKoyambedu: Chennai's Wholesale Market

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On a much needed day off, a small group of us from class gathered in the rain to wait for a bus. We headed an hour south of Chennai to visit the monuments in the seaside town of Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram). The journey, for Matt and I, was mostly about the journey. While there's much to say about these famous local ruins, we relished the fresh air and the view from the lighthouse of waves lapping the coast of India. We enjoyed the company of fellow classmates, of new discoveries.

When we arrived, the town was pretty sleepy for a Saturday. Our band of eight stuck out like a group of foreigners on a visit to some local ruins in various interpretations of Indian dress. The town has a surprising number of granite carving workshops, legit cobblers and other types of artisans.

The ... View Post »

A daily practice

We're one week deep into our month long yoga course - The Heart of Yoga - at the Krishnamacarya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai. Our weekdays are filled with a blissful routine. We crawl to a seated position at 5:30am. We meditate, stretch and then pad, Ok, Matt pads over the cool tile into the kitchen to boil water for coffee. He carries back with him a bowl of muesli and whole raw milk and sets it on the bed. We eat quietly and sip coffee. We shower. Around this time I usually put the pressure on to leave, and there's a bit of a dash to dress in the lightest thing possible that's semi-dried off the line and head out the door.

We each don a single ear bud to combat the piercing horns and make our way to class. It's a few minutes down our quiet neighborhood street, then a right onto the ... View Post »

Don't throw those away. They are very auspicious.

— Dad, in response to us wanting to toss a fried food offering we weren't going to eat
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Them: It's on a charge basis.

Me: What does that mean?

Them: It means we're going to charge you.

— Hotel staff at the Renaissance in Mumbai when I called to see if they had playing cards
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GalleryA week in Spain

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Up in the downs

Oh, I remember these downs, this hillside and downside that goes on for ages and never seems to get old. On the day we walked it had threatened to rain but decided to stay cloudy instead. The sun was passing through like a beacon of light, searching for us. But it didn't catch us. We stole into town and got beers instead.