Sunday, September 10, 2006

Pondicherry and a must read offering

We went down to Pondicherry today, a seaside town about 70 miles south of my hotel. Pondicherry was a French outpost and many buildings have a French influence. The town is a popular vacation spot, maybe because it has low tax rates on beer and wine. We walked around and saw the main temple in town, many statues and the lighthouse. Seemingly a mellow trip.

On the way back to town we saw a group of people coming on to the road in some sort of festival/offering to a god. We pulled over and luckily I had my camera in hand. As the first people walked by everything seemed normal, then we noticed that a person was being taken care of (the center of attention) by others. We then noticed that he had what appeared to be two large fish hooks attached to the skin in his back. The hooks had a common rope (Y shaped) that led back to a truck. This guy was literally pulling the truck with the skin on his back. There were three of four young men all doing this, each with their own vehicle. Balaji and my driver had never seen anything like this before (although they had heard of it). It was very strange and clearly the most unique thing I've seen here and maybe ever. More pictures of today at

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Touring India

So today is Saturday, no real post for yesterday. I've spent most of Thursday and Friday actually working my ass off. Kind of makes sense, given that is why I'm here, but I'm not going to travel half way around the world and not take in the sights. I may not be sleeping, working a lot and getting fat from eating but oh well. Today will be a little more of a photo dump than anything so enjoy.

We went down to Mamallapuram which is a little south of Chennai. On the way down we stopped at a crocidile refuge that helps save crocs all across the world and houses over a thousand. I told Shay I was going to fight one, so I kicked the ass of the one in the first picture. The town is known for carvings in large rock formations. This next picture shows some of the carvings in the rock, along with me and Balaji who I've been working with and has kindly been a great tour guide. Here is a carving of a two monkeys cleaning each other, given that Ade and her mom are together today this is especially funny to me. Here is a link to a heap of photos I've taken

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Indian Traffic and no Sleep

Well I got my luggage this morning which was nice. Finally feel cleaned up and ready to go. On the drive over to the office I learned a little about the area my hotel is in, primarily that the area was affected by the tsunami in 2005. There is still an area near the hotel where “temporary” housing is being utilized while long term fixes are being made. It is strange to see an area that was affected, given that the hotel is probably 30 vertical feet from the ocean and 500 yards away. If anyone hears about an earthquake in the Pacific while I’m here call me so I can evacuate.

I went for a run this morning on the beach. It was just as the sun was coming out. I saw a snake in the sand, a crab and numerous local fishermen.

Some people were just throwing nets out to sea as waves came in hoping to catch fish. Not sure if they had any luck at all. There were also a good number of people out in small boats. The boats more resemble a canoe from my perspective. I don’t know how people could go out, fish and control their boats with the waves crashing in on them. Given the number of people out fishing it must not be to dangerous.

Driving in this town is crazy, well I can’t really say driving since I’m only a passenger, but the rides I’ve been on are pure chaos. First, the cars/driving is on the reverse side, like in England. Second the roads all seem to be narrow, approximately one lane; however, traffic goes in both directions. Third the various size and types of vehicles are varied: trucks, buses, cars, rickshaws, cattle, bikes, motorcycles and pedestrians all travel on the same road at the same time. Fourth, there are apparently no traffic signals in India, I’ve as yet seen a stoplight, stop sign, yield sign at all. At seemingly random points on the road there are barricades placed about 50 feet apart from each other, creating a “S” shaped obstacle for traffic to navigate through. What the purpose of these barricades is for I haven’t figured out. They all have signs that tell the driver they are entering an “accident prone zone” but the only reason I can figure for these being accident prone zones is because of the barricades. When traffic wants to pass one vehicle (or person, or whatever is slowest) pulls to the left while the faster vehicle passes on the right, if traffic is coming it pulls over to its left, unless it is a bigger vehicle or a crazier driver. I’ve yet to see any accidents, but honestly don’t know how given how crazy the traffic is.

It's now 5:30 am on Friday and I've been up since 2:30, after getting to sleep about 11:00. Today is going to suck. I guess there is something to jet lag. Hopefully I can leave work early today and get an afternoon nap in and try to get on some type of schedule here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

India - Day 1 pictures

I finally have some pictures loaded onto the site. Chennai is the 4th largest city in India with nearly 10 million people in the area, yet along streets it is common to see cattle walking, or even pulling wagons. This is right along side the cars, bus, trucks etc. on the street.

The hotel I'm staying at is located where a Dutch fort was in the 1700's. There are still little remants of the fort on the hotel property.

And yes, it is a resort hotel. Here is the view from my room (looking east). The building in the foreground is the poolside bar at the hotel pool and in the background you can see the ocean. And a special picture for Ade, the auto rickshaw, three wheels, no doors and crazy drivers (well actually all drivers here are crazy but that's another story).

India Day 1

Well I made it to India, but I’m still waiting on my luggage. I just made my connection in Frankfurt to Chennai due to a 2 ½ delay leaving Washington DC. My flight from DC landed about 10 minutes before the one flight per day (from Frankfurt) was about to leave. Thankfully the airline literally held the plane for three of us coming from DC. We got taken off the first plane and bused to the other plane so we wouldn’t have to deal with the crowds in the airport. At that point I pretty much had no hope of getting my luggage to Chennai with me, but at least I didn’t have to hang out in the Frankfurt airport for a day.

I landed in Chennai at about midnight Tuesday/Wednesday and got to my hotel at about 1:30. Of course I couldn’t go to sleep; one cause it seemed like the middle of the afternoon to me and two because I had to wash the only clothes I had available. I finally fell asleep around 2:30 and was awake by 6:30.

I’ve not really had a chance to look around much yet, but it is clearly a different world here. Cattle walk on the main highway, trash is everywhere and I can clearly see the class distinction between those who work and others. I had heard there were two classes in India; the educated and the service class. There seems to be one missing, the poverty stricken. I was taken to a small temple this morning to view it and there were about ten women and young children begging for change. To an extent they were unrelenting, but clearly they had/have nothing and even a little change would have helped them. Not having any local currency yet I couldn’t help.

My luggage is suppose to arrive tonight and be delivered first thing in the morning. I hope so cause right now I’m starting to stink and don’t have the energy to try and wash jeans by hand tonight. Hopefully I can get an internet connection to post this at some point. Well the internet is working, but I can't get pictures to download, hopefully tomorrow.