Friday, July 10, 2009

It’s amazing what a night of solid sleep will do! I felt human when I awoke yesterday morning. We had another tasty breakfast of dosas, a crepe-like bread, with lentils and coconut chutney, along with fresh papayas with lime, again. We took our first autorickshaw ride, and I don’t think it matters what you’re riding in or on, it’s best not to look!

The sounds here remind me of improvisational jazz: random horns in various pitches; the cawing of crows and whistling of squirrels; pigeons cooing; squeaking of brakes; putt-putting of motorcycles; wind in the trees; occasional shouting voices; whirring of fans. ~Lisa

We climbed into the rickshaw wondering if we were taking our lives into our hands—rickshaws are little motorized scooters with a covered seat behind the driver and open on the sides. They are the main method of transportation here in Chennai (similar to a taxi) and zip around buses, cars, motorcycles, bikes, oxen carts with aggressive abandon. A ride across town costs about a dollar. The rule of the road here is whoever is in front has the right of way; therefore, all on the road are trying to wiggle their way to the front, using their horn to announce their coming. We videotaped the entire ride and may be able to post at some point, but it just doesn’t give the near collision experience. But what a fabulous rush—it is like riding a rollercoaster! And we arrived safe and sound—Americans should come to India to learn defensive driving.
Our students arrive this evening/morning (4am) and we will be there to greet them in the throngs of people waiting outside the airport. We have bought our salwar kameezes (long tunics with pants) so that we blend in with the crowds (HA—right!), plus they are exceptionally comfortable in the heat.

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