Wednesday, September 3, 2008

13 Perceptions of Tamil Nadu, India

Hi. Maybe you’ve wondered where I was this summer. Answer: I was in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India, where I was privileged to be curriculum coordinator in a pilot program for teaching English language learners.

Our group worked with about 50 orphans. Fortunately, they have English instruction at their school, so they know lots of English words, but they need practice stringing those words together in conversation.

The orphans were wonderful students and I’ll tell you more about them at a later time.

Since I spent most of July and August in Tamil Nadu and had so many great experiences, I’m still sorting out my reminiscences. In keeping with our Diner’s theme of endings, I’d like to give you an after-word from my visit halfway around the world.

Here are some impressions and things I found peculiar or worthy of comment.



13 Perceptions of Tamil Nadu, India


1) The people of Tamil Nadu are friendly. They smile readily. They like to talk to foreigners, which was good for me because with my red hair, I was clearly not Indian.

2) They like to have their picture taken, which is a bonus of amateur photographers like yours truly.


3) They want to see their picture after you take it.


4) In Madurai, the city where I spent most of my time, animals share the streets with pedestrians, motorcycles, bikes, rickshaws, buses, trucks and ox carts.

5) Did I mention ox carts? Here’s a picture.

6) Sometimes whole families ride a single motorcycle. (Sounds impossible, but it happens. They find a way.)

7) It’s customary to take off your shoes inside a house and many people go around barefoot, outside as well as inside.

8) People eat rice with their fingers, then wash after eating.

9) Indians eat in silence. They save talk for before and after the meal.

10) Many visit Internet cafes to check their e-mails or browse the Web. These cafes don’t serve food but what they do have are rooms divided into cubicles. Each cubicle contains a computer you can rent for between 25 to 75 cents an hour. That’s such a deal that customers like me often had to wait to get a turn.

11) It’s important to walk slowly when crossing a street so traffic can swerve around you.

12) Most women look good in saris. A clothing trend we might want to start here.

13) The warm weather lends itself to people having areas of their homes open to the outside. Imagine trees growing in the middle of your house. Very cool, if you don’t have to worry about snow and slush.

I’m sure many of you have traveled to foreign countries. The first things that strike us as travelers are the differences. Feel free to share your impressions of places you’ve visited. I’m eager to learn. Thanks.

Brenda

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28 comments:

  1. Now I am counting my blessings and wishing I could feel so committed about anything. Well done, friend.

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  2. What a fascinating experience that must have been. I've never been to India, but in Thailand you often see whole families on mopeds (we saw a family of FIVE once!). No cows in the road, but I did have to stop short once when I went into a traffic circle only to find a group of elephants standing there (with tourists on their back, not wild)!

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  3. Robin,
    Elephants on the street is something I didn't see.

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  4. One of my friends is married to an Indian (from Calcutta) but he is Belgian now since many years. He also was brought up in the UK. But he still runs around barfoot, lol !

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  5. Thanks for sharing your photos and experiences here. I learned some interesting things … and that’s always a pleasure. I’ve played at Small Reflections.
    Hugs and blessings,

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  6. What an adventure you got to have, some day I only hope I can travel the world and do more for the less fortunate. Thanks for dropping by The Cafe for my TT

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  7. Very interesting, Brenda. Thanks for sharing the link at WisRWA. :)

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  8. Fascinating blog--makes me want to travel! Summer in Wisconsin pales by comparison, lol.

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  9. That was extremely interesting! I don't know how I'd manage living there, but I sure would like to visit. I wish we had Internet cafes. I'm sure they do... somewhere in the US, but none that I know of where I am.

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  10. I had no idea that was where you were - and how wonderfully cool. Gosh you do inspire. I'm looking forward to hearing about the orphans and what you did there!

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  11. Wow, to travel to an exciting country and actually work alongside them and work with children too, sounds like my dream! :)

    Thanks for sharing these perceptions of the Indian state you visited, I'm looking forward to reading more stories of your trip!

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  12. Sounds like a fantastic experience. I love the pictures!

    And I agree about the saris -- they are so beautiful that they draw the eye.

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  13. Oh, wow. Very cool! I *love* Indian food and am interested in the culture. I taught English in Japan for a few years, and the experience of living someplace else has shaped much of who I am in such a wonderful way. I hope you will feel the same. Also? I really love saris and have always wanted to own one (or many) - they look so beautiful yet comfy. Such a great 13. Nicely done!

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  14. Thank you for that nibble about Tamil Nadu! Sounds like an enchanting spot... India is on my "Top Ten Places to Visit" list without a doubt, so this was very welcome!

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  15. That does sound like a wonderful place to visit.

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  16. The silent meal sounds wonderful. Although I am proud of the fact that my husband and I eat dinner at the table with both of my teenage children almost every night, it sometimes gets very noisy.

    I remember when I saw my first sari (I was from a small, rural town) in Toronto. I was fascinated by the look. I think I would look GREAT in one now. No need for a Spanx wearing one of those!

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  17. Welcome home! It sounds like you had quite the adventure this Summer. The thing that I remember most about visiting London and Edinburgh was looking the opposite direction when crossing the street.

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  18. Di,
    My dinner table gets noisy too.

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  19. Celticlibrarian,
    In India they drive on the left side too, which is different. They also have round-abouts--a new traffic concept for me. Thanks for visiting.

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  20. I love the photographs you shared. Happy TT.

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  21. What wonderful travels! I so enjoyed your pictures. Please share more about India. I've only traveled to Canada and in the United States and not a whole of that. What did you think of the cuisine?
    Army Mom

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  22. Also thanks for visiting my blog!

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  23. ArmyMom,
    Thanks for your comments. I liked the food. I'm fond of curry and rice.

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  24. Your variety of pictures were outstanding. I hope you have more to share. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  25. Great pictures. Sounds like an incredible experience.

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  26. I see what you mean about the saris. How very cool that you got to visit such a fascinating place. Great list and thanks for stopping by!

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  27. Sounds like a perspective-changing trip, Brenda. Hope you write a lot more about it. Glad to have you back though.

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  28. Great insight, thank you for the peek into another place and culture. India is definitely on my extensive list of places to visit!

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