Monday, April 27, 2009

Tsol era rednaw ohw lla ton

April 24th, 2009 I should have flown out of Chennai around midnight and spent the next twenty hours or so en route to NYC. I would have arrived in NYC feeling completely overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the size and price of a small coffee at the airport (the small coffee would be five times the size of a coffee here and probably ten times the price), overwhelmed by all the different shades and sizes of people at JFK airport. Shocked by the amount of English and Spanish speakers in one area. Sad at the thought of leaving so many amazing people back in Chennai. And at that point I might wonder when (if?) the relief would set in that I was out of Chennai, away from the pollution and heat.
Every experience so far has taught me that it’s futile to try and predict the course of my life. I originally thought that I would stay and travel within India for two weeks after completing my internship. I never planned on extending the internship, or spending a day longer in Chennai that I absolutely had to. As it turns, out, though, I’ve extended my internship a month and am now pursuing other opportunities that have recently come my way. The inherent advantage to staying in one place and just “sticking it out” has allowed me to make more contacts, professional and personal, which has really affected my current situation.
Staying in Chennai longer than intended has allowed me to experience…
-Bandh. On Thursday, I witnessed my first ever Bandh experience. Bandh, a Hindi word which actually means “closed,” is a form of protest used by political activists in countries like India and Nepal. During Bandh, a major political party shuts down as a means to strike; on Thursday, the entire city of Chennai shut down, including shop-owners and all modes of public transportation. Bandh was scheduled in Tamil Nadu to demonstrate support for the Tamils living in Sri Lanka and voice opposition to the on-going civil war between Sri Lanka and the LTTE party. (Read to learn more) While I didn’t witness any violence firsthand, a few areas of town reported experiencing “clashes” between activists and store-owners refusing to close. All in all, the day just seemed much quieter than usual and it was much harder to find an auto.
-I was recently offered a job teaching Mandarin Chinese part-time to a few students in Chennai. I’ve never taught a foreign language before, but after briefly looking at the course material, I feel confident to handle the beginner level classes. Again, something I never would have predicted I’d end up doing but I feel like it’s worth giving it a shot. I’ve been worried I’d lose some of the language by living in India but this is a great opportunity to keep it fresh in my head, and make a small bit of money doing so.
-Bay of Bengal. I’ve never jumped into the ocean with my clothes on…until recently. Ignoring the discomfort of wet jeans, I dove into the water in the middle of the day amidst a beach full of Chennai onlookers. I finally caved into the heat and settled for a refreshing (albeit, uncomfortable) mid-afternoon dip. Next time you strut to the beach in your Sunday best, don’t worry about not having your bikini and JUST JUMP.

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