I finally made it. I was sad to leave Bangkok, as I hadn't seen half of what I wanted to see, but I was also excited for India. I met John Bamert in the airport at around 9ish, and we waited around for our flight to leave at 11. As far as good places to have a rendezvous go, Bangkok is right at the top of the list. There's nothing cooler than saying you met up with someone in Bangkok. It sounds like the start of a great adventure. Hopefully it will be.
We arrived in Chennai on the east coast of India in the early afternoon. India is so much to take in at once, that it's hard to describe. I guess the overwhelming thing is that there are just so many people. The parks are filled with people sitting around, or reading, or standing in groups and talking. The sidewalks are so crowded that walking down the street is a major ordeal. It seems impossible that the country could support this many people, and I guess it is. Many of them have nowhere to go, and end up sleeping in bus and train stations, deserted lots, or right there on the sidewalk. It seems like almost everything is done completely differently here than back at home. The left hand is reserved for bathroom duties, so we have to remember to only use the right hand, especially for eating. Some meals at nicer restaurants come with a knife and fork, but the good, cheap meals that the locals eat are eaten with the right hand only. That would be fine if the foods were things like bread or pizza or even chicken, but it's all rice. They serve you a big steel plate covered by a banana leaf. A big pile of rice is set on the leaf, along with cups of various sauces which are poured over the rice and eaten with the hands. If any of you are bored at home, try eating rice with some liquid poured over it with your hands. It's hard. The first restaurant we ate at was completely full, and everyone in the restaurant seemed pretty entertained at our attempts to eat, except for the people sitting directly across from us at the table, who quickly found other seats. Although we've only been here for three days now, we have made pretty big fools of ourselves a number of times.
Everyone is very polite, and tries to help us out as much as possible, but it would be nice if we weren't such total idiots everywhere we went. Adding to the confusion, is the head wobble thing that Indians do. It's kind of a cross between nodding and shaking their heads, and it's very difficult to know exactly how to interpret it. It can mean anything, kind of like "same same, but different" in Thailand. I think the key is probably to just ignore it, as it's going to make me more confused if I try to understand what they're trying to say by doing it. Another annoying thing that I've discovered is that I've gained somewhat of an accent, but only on random words. "Hello" is the worst, which I seem to pronounce with an 'h' added on to the end. Not sure why I picked that up, but it's pretty annoying, and I'm trying to get it under control.
I was looking at the paper today, and I saw an article about the benefits of video games. The picture was of a shoot-em-up game, and the caption read something like, "Cop vs terrorist games such as the first person shooter shown above make children feel like heroes and often encourage them to join the military." It's not really that entertaining I guess, but I just thought it was funny in comparison to how paranoid we are about violence back in the states.
There is so much more to say, but I think I need a bit more time to process it all. I think I'll really enjoy it here, but it will definitely take a little getting used to. I've also been having trouble finding an internet cafe that can upload my pictures, which is too bad, as I still have the last week or so from Thailand to put up, as well as pictures from India. Hopefully I'll be able to figure that out sometime soon. Take care out there.