Thursday, July 01, 2010


Although the flight was lengthy, it was surprisingly comfortable. The flight attendants of Qatar Airways were so courteous and were exceptionally hospitable. I struck up conversations on the plane with nearby passengers. There was a Bangladeshi woman named Parvin that was happy to explain the main exports of Bangladesh, and explained the significance of International Mother Language Day held annually February 21. I also met a man named Ahmed who was studying Medicine at the University of Maryland on a fellowship, traveling back home to Doha, Qatar because his fellowship ended. Both advised me to shy away from spicy foods because my stomach was not used to it and I was grateful for this information.

Our next flight from Doha, Qatar would be delayed but we made it to Chennai, India. While in flight, I met a woman named Jaseema from Paris, France who was traveling to Chennai to visit her mother and was kind enough to share her Haribo Tagada candies with me while we discussed Barack Obama's presidency. She invited me to visit Paris, France because of its beauty. I also met a young lady around my age who was studying for her International baccalaureate degree in Geneva, Switzerland who would be visiting her grandmother in Chennai. Although thousands of miles apart, I found that we shared some of the same interests in music and in hobbies and exchanged contact information to keep in touch. So far, I was enjoying myself because on a normal day I am not inclined to generate conversations with perfect strangers.

Cheers from Chennai,


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The students arrived today and Lisa and I arose to greet them at the airport at 2:30am. They were tired but eager to begin their adventures, piling into vans, asking questions, and commenting on views out the window. We had orientation, went over the schedule for the next three weeks and they are currently in their beds sleeping off the effects of jetlag and culture shock. Tomorrow we begin class and Saturday and Sunday are filled with sightseeing, exploring Chennai and a lovely dinner at the owner of our B&B's beachside house to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Meanwhile, Lisa and I continue to perform a comedy skit on the streets of Chennai in search of a local grocery named "Amma Nana." For some reason we cannot get the pronunciation correct and yesterday while attempting to ask an auto rickshaw driver if he knew how to get there, we attracted a group of very helpful people--all of us were saying the same thing but no one was understanding each other "AAAAmma nana," aMMManNana," amaNAAna," to the point where we sounded like the infamous Muppet's "Manamana" song:

Perhaps breaking into song would have helped! :)