There is a vibrancy to India that does not exist in the United States; everyone seems to be so much more aware of what is going on around them. Flying down the street in a rickshaw, weaving in and out of traffic is just one example. Amy’s host mom when she lived in India, Lalitha, described this phenomenon as “adjusting”. When one more guest visits a home, an Indian host will graciously make room. When people walk across a busy road, vehicles swerve around them without thought. Being aware and expectant of small changes creates a smooth ride for the passengers and everyone around them.
The last few days in Chennai have flown by so quickly, probably due to the fact that we’re all ready to collapse in our beds by 9 pm. A combination of the heat and general excitement leaves us all very tired at the end of the day. We have been so fortunate in the past few days to talk to many of Amy’s friends and contacts in the country, giving us the chance to see India the way it should be; from an Indian perspective. Hearing from Geeta Ramaseshan was an amazing experience. A major player in human rights advocacy law, she answered all our questions about the status quo in India.
For my site paper, I researched St. Thome Cathedral Bascilica and visiting it was awesome. After researching it so thoroughly, it was fun to see it come to life. Peacock pictures and sculptures pop up everywhere (as we ARE visiting the Land of the Peacock Scream). Sarah Wells and I have been playing a game where we count the number of peacocks we see and we found two, on either side of the lotus that was supporting the crucifix over the altar. Peacock representations were also found in the Kapaleeshwarar temple, including Parvati herself. We circled around the shrine to the seven planets and were given flowers to put in our hair. The atmosphere of the temple was very inviting and the sculptures were beautiful.
Yesterday, we visited Sunil’s house! They had an amazing meal waiting for us and we loved spending time with the neighborhood children. By then end, I had fed a cow a banana leaf and shaken a million little boys’ hands, hoping that they too would have a “HAPPY NEW YEAR”. (It blows my mind that it’s only the 7th. Maybe time isn’t going as quickly as I thought it was.)
Visiting Port St. George was an amazing opportunity to see the British influence that existed in India. The museum had coins, paintings and porcelain that helped tell the story of the fort. It was interesting to see the part India played in WWI, something I hadn’t thought about. St. Marys, the Anglican Church on the fort, was beautiful and had an amazing garden to the side. Flowers called “ildi-poo” (because the look like the lentil-based cakes that we eat three times a day) were all around.
We are experiencing India with all our senses, trying to take it all in. This is something I never want to forget.