September 15, 2010

India - Days 2, 3 & 4

Shopping: Service rocks here. If you have the cash flow, you get a personal shopper at almost every store here. I went to Sukra's to buy temple jewelry and all I had to do was read from my list and the salesman there got everything I needed and explained the choices I had. It was quick and very convenient. Ditto at Nalli silks and Citibank. The thatha at Nallis helped me choose the silk sarees and at one point actually picked out 3 sarees and said I must buy those!

Travel: Traveling in Chennai is a pain. No news there. But, if you have a car and a driver, you are sort of insulated. It's like travelling in a bubble watching the madness outside but shielded from it. Even if you own a car, it's quite a task to find a parking spot for any place. 2 wheelers dominate the road. But the stores themselves are a lot more interesting than stores in the US, mainly because these are family owned, mom and pop stores and it's refreshing to have people help us choose products instead of staring at aisles and aisles of products and having to choose, buy and assemble everything yourself.

We went to Marina beach which was fun. Nageswara Rao park was good for r~ although she couldn't really play in the toddler play area (too wet, too many puddles and very different from the "sanitized" parks of America) but it was nice to walk in the park and it was well maintained. We went to Parthasarathy temple which was surprisingly tiring (I know am not supposed to say that) but delightful all the same. r~ kept announcing loudly that there were Umachis (Gods) everywhere and at one point inside a Sannidhi said, "Velila polam, anga chillunu irukum" (Let's go outside, it will be colder outside). She was flushed by the time we finished but she enjoyed the temple trip.

Eat: I ate my "favoritest" foods in the whole world, South Indian parotha, kuruma, raitha and sathukudi juice from Saravana Bhavan! Ate Gulab jamoon and samosas from Gangotri. We have a cook at home for a short while but as with all service providers needs a fair bit of maintenance. She and my mom launch into atha-paati kathai (stories) often much to my dad's irritation because it usually results in us paying the cook for talking to my mom more than cooking :p Yesterday I had elumbichanga oorgai (lemon pickle) and spicy mangai (raw mango) with thayir sadam (curd rice).

People: Everyone here is more open about family matters in front of others, even strangers, except if it involves money :p And the relationships with neighbors, gate keeper, car driver, maid servant, milk lady are closer than in the US. So all of these folks were waiting to see r~ and came home to see her. The calling bell rings home several times a day and so does the phone and the cell phones in the house. Our house is going to sound disconcertingly silent when we go back to the US. People here also offer advice more easily than in the US. Another sight comfortingly familiar is the sacred marks on the foreheads of the people here.  Guests don't expect to be entertained here. So, it's perfectly ok to be cooking or cleaning or even paying bills while the guests make themselves comfortable at home. For kids, even without the better play areas, parks, large open spaces, India is a better place w.r.t the attention they get from people (More on this later).


Sriram Krishnan said...

+1 on the sound. I find my house in Seattle disconcertingly quiet.

The Doodler said...

I agree about the guests! People just become part of the "family", so to speak. Consequently, people are more welcome in homes because its not an out of the way, effort to entertain them..

Yarlee said...

Hmm traveling in Chennai is a nightmare..i had experience of one year

Anonymous said...

If this was a post written by someone who has not seen / visited india, it would have been an interesting read.
Did you notice in chennai, the old cinema theaters are no more :(
Try Murugan Idili shop. IMHO much better than Saravan Bhavan.
Take a drive toward Mahabs and you will understand how chennai is becoming a concrete jungle :(

PB said...

To me it sounds so artificial..It sounds like some american secretary is taking up some position in US consulate and writing about the new country.

There is one saying in tamil.."Uppil uriyadhu oorgaiyaga dhan irukum, oru naalum uppaga mudiyadhu"

No matter how many years you live in a foreign country you are still a foreigner there.

RS said...

sriram -- I am dreading that...

Subha -- Yup...easy going entertaining.

Yarlee -- Public transport? Auto? Bike?

Anon -- Super, I'll try that!

PB -- Maybe. There are "some" of us who choose to remain foreigners and form an exclusive enclave in the US and then there are some who try to integrate...different people, different lives :p

reetika said...

Hey Ramya,
How good is the temple jewelery at Sukra's? And what are the prices like?

RS said...

reetika -- I would say very good and pretty expensive!

Amrutha Ragavan said...

arrgggh!! I miss home(India) much much more now!

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