May 20 A month of India

So I start this writing as I start many others, deep in the thought of what should be, vs what is.  My life is going exactly as it should.  I am right on par with my budget, maybe slightly off because of a few nice meals here and there.  I thought I would have enough to last for 3 months or 4 but I way underestimated my needs in that regard.  My budgetary skills failed me. Regardless it has been fun and I have seen a lot.

The train from Delhi to Chennai was 32 hours. When I first boarded the train, i thought there is no way I will make it, however, after time and just accepting what was, I settled in. I got some food and snacks at the train station to keep my hunger at bay.  I did try a new snack which is identical to a cheeto, but set up with all the masala spice…yowza was it good.  I ate the whole bag the first night and the second day I stopped a food guy with chips to see if he had more.  He did and I was in love with the masala-ol (like cheeto, but my new word).  Its like a drug addiction gone terribly wrong in the first 24 hours. You desire a thing and its no longer available, you lie on your top bunk, jonesing for the next fix, not knowing when you will get it.  You sweat profusely with or without the sheet and the air-con is blowing at minus 20.  You are in a strange place with people you don’t know and before long you try to sleep it off, only to wake up craving the thing again. The cycle repeats.  It wasn’t really that bad, but I have to say I really like them

I think the family below me was worried. They kept offering food and I graciously denied.  I know the mother thought i was a nut job huddled up on the top bunk.  She probably thought “how strange this skinny white man is”.  Lesson learned, when an indian offers you their food, share and oblige. Its always good to break bread.  I met a really nice guy who was across from me, His name escapes me at the moment, but man was he friendly. He is a student in Chennai and works in Delhi.  He was finishing up his last year.  And by the way, we have no clue what its like to try and get our degree in India.  My degree in the US is cake compared to what they have to do here in this country and how hard they have to work to pull themselves out of the gutter. He asked if he could friend me on Facebook and i said absolutely.  He was always offering me snacks or a coke and asked me what i did for a living (gulp).  I think i shocked him by saying, I have no fucking clue.

After finally arriving in Chennai at the train station, I was greeted by my cousin Cullen and his lovely wife Shanthi.  She was so sweet and friendly.  We went back to their little apartment and I crashed for a bit. At 11:30 we headed to my cousin’s creature comfort.  It is a hotel in which we swim, and enjoy the sauna and showers before getting the day started.  He starts his day at 11 or 12 and wraps up late in the evening. His wife, Shanthi is so sweet. She worries when I don’t eat at night. She tells me that I should never go to bed hungry.  She is a very hard worker and supported her family for many years with her job.

Cullen and I have been walking on the beach in the morning, enjoying the cafe down the street for some strong coffee before our walks.  The coffee is served in a cup 1/4 the size of a small coffee, only like 3-5 oz. It is delicious but sweet.  We go to ghandi beach and put in our 10000 steps before the unforgiving Chennai heat melts us to the pavement. We then go to the hotel and swim on the top floor and drink coffee.

I haven’t had time to update my blog as there is not a ton of wifi here. The places that do have it charge for it.  We actually visited the St Thomas Church here in Chennai.  St Thomas was buried there but they moved him him to the vatican.  Apparently there were only 3 where saints were buried, but i think that is down to two now.  I didn’t have my phone with me, but here is some information about the church:

The beaches here are dirty and you cannot swim.  When we went to the church we walked to the oceans edge, only to watch guys squatting right where the waves were hitting the shore. Its quite a shocker first thing in the morning. I think in all, I have realized, it doesn’t matter what I do.  I don’t care if I wait tables or work in a call center.  Fuck happiness.  I think that is load of crap.  Life is not a magical party in which you can choose to do what you love.  Sometimes much of what we love is “luck” being dropped in our lap, other than that, its just life.

I am going to a Brahman wedding tonight in a Dhoti and traditional garb, not sure if im gonna wear underwear…just spice things up a bit, although I am sure many guys don’t wear underwear so its probably a moot point.  I will be one of two white guys wearing dhotis. Its a skirt for guys :-)

I underestimated my funding needs for this trip.  Thought I would be here at least a 2 months, but it looks like that wont happen.  I am going to head back to delhi soon and change my ticket back to the states. Its been a great trip and next time, i know I need more money, more time and only me. India is going to be a boon for growth over the next 10 years and if you were thinking of doing business here, it is probably a good idea.

Until next time…

PS. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is being sworn back in.  The ceremony is today and she swears in tomorrow. They have been blocking and cleaning the streets for her arrival. She was a “Bollywood” actress turned politician. Apparently she was convicted of fraud, resigned and now she is back in. Not too much different than our own system in the USA!
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