Date archives "February 2010"

A Patron of the Arts?!

In keeping with the Saturday evenings of culture and learning (like the traditional Indian dances I saw the other week when we came across the cultural exchange show), and in a rather depressing sign that my youth and partying days are drawing to a close, I got invited to an art exhibition inauguration event by my friend who had some of her pieces featured.

The exhibition showcased work from the final year fine arts students from the Stella Maris College for Girls – and before you jump to any conclusions I would like to lay to rest any vicious rumours that the only reason I went was to mingle with exceptionally pretty young 20-something girls…that was just an added bonus πŸ˜€ (note to mother: I really AM trying!).

Indian art gallery

Indian art gallery



Now this is art that even I can appreciate!

Now this is art that even I can appreciate!

Now first and foremost I should say that I am by no means an art critic (ha! Imagine!) and I think a lot of the art scene is so far up its own arse they’ve lost touch with reality.

With that said and out of the way, I was really taken aback by just how good exceptional a lot of the work was. I don’t know my Classic from Renaissance (private ‘in’ joke there, wonder if they’ll get it), but I do know what I like when I see it. To me, what I like is waaaaay more important than what some pompous art/design critic says.

Infact, I liked what I saw so much, I’ve decided to actually go ahead and buy some (yeah, it came as a complete surprise to me too!), the problem is, I can’t decide which pieces to buy because I’d happily take them all, so I’m going the ask the audience and see what you think. Take a look at the photos, and let me know if you have any opinions!

I really like this one

I really like this one

I love the green and black on this one

I love the green and black on this one

I have no idea why, but it's great!

I have no idea why, but it's great!

This is actually my personal favourite...but I couldn't tell you why

This is actually my personal favourite...but I couldn't tell you why

i love the colours and the style of hair

i love the colours and the style of hair

It's quite an ethnic feel to it

It's quite an ethnic feel to it

I want to be very clear on this, I don’t want to be mistaken! I’m not turning arty farty, I’m not buying them as an investment, I just genuinely like them, and at the price they are being sold at, they are a bargain!

I’m usually very harsh about the creativity of Indians because in my line of work it’s incredibly hard to find good graphic designers (my old work colleague, Vel might be an exception here), but these pieces show me that there are very talented artists…if only I could convince them to come and try their hand at web design!

The highlight of the inauguration was a live painting by an artist called R.B. Bhaskaran who regularly sells his art work across the globe for thousands of pounds. He literally stood there in the gallery while everyone was watching and painted this – although on a personal note, in this case I prefer the students work to the one he knocked up in 30 minutes.

R.B. Bhaskaran painted this in 30 minutes!

R.B. Bhaskaran painted this in 30 minutes!

No Room At The Inn!

The population of London is thought to be hovering around the 7m mark, although obviously if all the Aussie contingent suddenly got bored of rain, cold and snow, this would take a drastic dip to 6.5m and Walkabout bars across the city would go out of business.

By comparison Chennai is thought to have a population of around 8.2m, but like London, this figure varies widely depending on how you define the city limits and even who you talk to.

According to Wikipedia, London has a greater metropolitan area of 659 sq mi whereas Chennai has an area of 459 sq mi, this is quite difficult to imagine, so using the power of Photoshop and Google Maps you can see visually how the two cities stack up against each other.

Comparison of London and Chennai

Update: So I got around to making this map and this just blurs the lines even more, because looking at this comparison map (and I took care to line up the scales) Chennai looks about 1/5th (sorry Tom!) the size of London…so what boundaries are they using for London to say it covers 659 square miles?!

So how is Chennai able to fit so many more people in to a space that is roughly 2/3rds the size of London?

Well, for one, unless you are in the upper echelons of the super wealthy (and I’m talking multi-millionaires in dollars and pounds) there is simply no way to afford a house on your own plot of land in Chennai. Ten years ago it might have been possible on the outskirts of the city, but not today unless you can afford to spend millions of pounds on a patch of land.

Where London is made up of low density terrace houses which are two or three stories, Chennai is made up of thousands of individual apartment blocks, 4 stories or more tall with two or more apartments per floor. This is the kind of place most of the middle classes live in in the city.

As fast as property developers can build these apartments, they are being snapped up by a desperate crowd, which is remarkable given that we’ve come off the back of the worst recession in living memory, mortgage rates are 9% and up and even getting a mortgage in the first place is hard enough thanks to the prudent nature of the banks here – something maybe the west would do well to remember next time!

Property prices here in Chennai go beyond the ridiculous, sail past the insane and end in the ether somewhere along with British ‘low’ budget airlines. If you compare property prices with the UK, then yes, it’s much cheaper, you can buy an apartment in Chennai for Γƒβ€šΓ‚Β£100,000 which is cheaper than anywhere in London, however if we use my company for comparison you’ll understand how crazy it is.

The company I work for is your standard Indian outsourcing company, the stuff the Indian dream and western corporate downsizing is made of. We’re about 200 strong and considered a decent medium sized company. Since it’s IT we pay well above the average salary compared to other industries.

The average employee earns around Rs 300,000 per year (Rs = Rupees), which is about Β£4,230. And that’s before tax and deductions of course.

The small 2 bedroom apartment I’m living in at the moment cost Rs 6,000,000 (Β£84,700) when it was purchased brand new two years ago, in other words, it’s 20x the average salary of an IT worker. After two years, the property prices have gone up so much they reckon this place is now worth Rs 10,000,000 (Β£141,200)! Wow!

Now back to the population thing. I consider this apartment that I live in large enough for myself. If I was married it might just be big enough for two people. But incredibly there are entire families living in the other apartments; literally it’s Mum, Dad, the kids, granny and granddad. I have no idea how they manage it, there’s only two bedrooms! But you understand why they have no option when you see how stupid the property prices are here, the average person will find it very difficult to buy a place of their own – and we (that is England as a society) think we have problems with the younger generation getting on the property ladder!

Ah yes, now I remember what the point of this entry was. The family that lives opposite to me were renting the apartment from a landlord, because that’s the only thing they can afford to do. However, even the rental prices are prohibitively expensive in Chennai. The family opposite were paying around Rs 200,000 (Β£2,800) per year, which is 2/3rds of the average IT salary! So even to rent a small apartment it takes an entire family to live there and contribute to the rent costs.

Oh, and on top of this, where it’s custom to give a one month deposit in England for renting, in Chennai the deposit is a minimum of 10 months up front! How people actually manage to put a roof over their head I don’t know!

The family opposite have just moved out, and when I was talking to my friend they said it was because landlords here don’t like people staying in their place for too long, otherwise the tenants might start to think they own it and have more rights than they actually do. Since it’s so difficult to find reasonable cost housing here, moving is something people only choose to do as a last resort, and once you’ve found somewhere, unless you can afford to upgrade, there’s no way you want to move.

So the landlords will give the tenants one years notice because a) it takes the occupiers so long to find an alternative place and b) it’s seen as a reasonable amount of time to give some one. My friend said that even if the landlord tried to evict the tenants, they would have to deal with a lot of angry people who will take the occupiers side and the whole thing could get very messy.

Sorry, keep going off at tangents. The family opposite me, despite living there for just 1 year got their 1 year eviction notice 12 months ago, and the time just came for them to move out yesterday. According to my maid, they still haven’t been able to find anywhere to live after a year of looking (even during the recession when things should be slow!). Apparently the mother of the family got so desperate she asked my maid for the number of the person who owns my apartment to see if they would be willing to accept a higher price than what I am paying!

Yesterday morning the old family moved out – for no other reason than the landlord didn’t want them staying there too long – and by the evening a new family had moved in. That’s how much in demand residential space is. As far as I know, and according to the maid (she’s better than a secretary for the amount of gossip she gets!), the family moving out don’t have a place to call home now, staying at friends and relatives instead.

Although there is a big push from the Indian Government to try and build ‘affordable’ housing from what I can see and what the local papers are saying, it’s mostly been all words so far. Developers can earn huge mark-ups on grander projects than they can from affordable housing, so from a business point of view there is no logical reason or incentive to build cheap housing when they’ve got plenty of demand from people who are prepared to pay high prices and then cram every member of the family in to the apartment.

The scary part is that it’s just going to get worse and worse as the Indian economy grows at 8% year on year.

Culture Vulturing In Chennai

One of my friends here in Chennai is a classical Tamil singer. The guy is as American as a Ford pickup truck, but he’s discovered a talent for the ancient and somewhat obscure art of warbling (which I’m reliably informed is actually singing). If you want to hear what it sounds like point your cursor over this link and press the left mouse button.

We are always being invited to hear him sing, and despite having not a single clue on what he’s singing about, people often go along to support him and attempt understand what’s going on. I’ve only been to see him sing once and I was completely confused, however when he invited us to listen to him sing on Saturday evening I decided, since I had bugger all else to do, to go along.

Now, this being India when you get given an address you should always head over to Google maps and try and ascertain exactly where the place is because in Chennai they have the most archaic address system known to man. Take my address for example. I live on 3rd Cross Street and the house number is 20. Except it’s also on 2nd Main Road and the house number is 26. To further complicate matters there are no less than four 3rd Cross Streets in my local area and this causes no end of fun when trying to get a home delivery or explain to a taxi driver where you live so he can pick you up. The zip/postal code system still eludes India. Oh. Wait. Not fun. Trauma.

In this instance we were told that the concert was being performed at a place called Spaces, #1 Elliots Beach Road. A quick lookup on Google Maps identifies the location and we were good to go.

When we arrived we looked up and down the road. There was no place called “Spaces”. We asked in a few shops. There was still no place called “Spaces”. We found a building that claimed to be #4 Elliots Beach Road, but unless our friend was performing in one of the houses next door we decided to discount it as pure conjecture. That coupled with the fact that the building was on a different road to what Google claimed to be Elliots Beach Road.

So after a bit of wandering we ended up walking down a little side street that we would never have gone down. It was packed with tiny little one room houses which doubled up as a shop front, the merchandise spilling out in to the street and selling everything from sea shells to mobile phones.

As we continued down this street we heard the sound of drums being played and suddenly the cramped lane opened out in to a big square overlooked by one of the biggest temples I’ve seen in Chennai.

Up on stage were a group of dancers playing the drums and putting on a bit of a performance. We stayed and watched by the sidelines, not meaning to stay very long when the friend I was with suddenly became mobbed by a load of Indians – she’s well over 6ft tall, female and white and hence is a giant magnet for young inquisitive Indian males πŸ˜€

Before we knew it we were chatting away to these university students from Pune (pronounced “pooh-nay” for the ignorant westerners reading my blog). It’s all the usual questions that I’ve mentioned in a previous and somewhat controversial blog post.

The thing that strikes me is just how friendly, inquisitive and innocent people are here. If this had been England, or most other western countries for that matter, and a couple of tourists rocked up to watch a cultural performance they wouldn’t get a second glance, but in India you get mobbed by people asking a million questions and wanting to know all about you, all about England, what you think of India – everything.

So we weren’t planning on sticking around but before we knew it they were making space for us, finding and offering us chairs to sit down, explaining what was going on, explaining about the dancers and singers, telling us about themselves and generally being extremely friendly.

My mum asked if we felt a little bit overwhelmed or out of our depth or concerned out our safety because you can literally be surrounded by dozens of people asking questions, wanting photos, trying to get you to go somewhere, but in Chennai I’ve never considered personal safety to be an issue, even late at night walking down deserted roads I’ve never felt unsafe, so speaking, interacting and joining with a big group of locals is perfectly ok. Even walking down the little sidestreet is fine because people will treat you with curiosity rather than any malice. It might be different in other parts of India, but definitely not in Chennai.

Back to the show…just like in Ooty, we quickly became a bigger attraction than the show itself as more people gathered round.

What was happening was that this show was a kind of internal, inter-state cultural exchange, designed to get people to understand more about other states’ cultures…err, through the medium of dance. They were all young people showcasing singing and dancing from the state they were from.

It actually turned out to be a really good show, and it just typifies India in that we were made to feel very welcome and everyone is so interested in you and were all so keen to tell us what’s going on. It’s just not something you’d ever find in the west.

It also sums up a lot about India that’s very hard to put your finger on, but it’s something along the lines of “things always tend to work out in the end”. We had originalyl gone to see our friend sing, we got stumped by TII (this is India) but ended up landing on our feet by having a great evening and chatting to loads of people. It’s difficult to put in to words just how differently guests are treated

Once the show finished, they even took my friend in to the massive temple that was next door to show her around. They even wanted us to join them for dinner but we were being picked up by another friend so had to say our goodbyes, however, not before all the photos were taken and they even asked us to give them our signature and write a little bit about India! No idea where they got the pen and paper from but once we had finished it was passed around so everyone could read it.

This is what I wrote…

India has a wonderfully diverse culture with some of the most friendly, welcoming and accommodating people in the world. It’s well known for the incredible food and the passion that people have for it. India is like no where else on Earth which is why so many tourists come to experience it. Jai Ho!

Haha, they loved the “Jai Ho” bit!

And now for some photos…

The sun sets over my apartment on 13th February

The sun sets over my apartment on 13th February

These guys were from Uttar Pradesh (I think)

These guys were from Uttar Pradesh (I think)

They were pretty energetic dancing around the stage

They were pretty energetic dancing around the stage

Wonder what the Health & Safety Executive would have to say about this!

Wonder what the Health & Safety Executive would have to say about this!

Massive temple right on the beach

Massive temple right on the beach

My friend was mobbed by people from Pune

My friend was mobbed by people from Pune

Soon more people came over and took photos

Soon more people came over and took photos

Even I couldn't escape as they lined up to have their photo taken with me

Even I couldn't escape as they lined up to have their photo taken with me

These people were from Kerala and the girl had an incredible voice!

These people were from Kerala and the girl had an incredible voice!

...She was also quite pretty :)

...She was also quite pretty πŸ™‚

These guys were from...India. It was basically like Morris dancing with bells and sticks

These guys were from...India. It was basically like Morris dancing with bells and sticks

This girl from Pune did a very sensual dance - lots of wiggling!

This girl from Pune did a very sensual dance - lots of wiggling!

Another guy asks my friend for her "good name"
We were quite the tourist attraction!

We were quite the tourist attraction!

These guys...not too sure what they were doing!

These guys...not too sure what they were doing!

Huge crowds of people were there

Huge crowds of people were there

My new friend from North East India working in a shop here in Chennai

My new friend from North East India working in a shop here in Chennai

I’ve Seen The Future. And It’s Green.

About two years (and a whole lifetime) ago I had my palm read by a fortune teller. You can read the outcome of that over on the Can You Read My Mind post.

And now, nearly two years to the day later, I had my fortune told again, but not by a palm reader, this time it was a little green parakeet (or parrot if you want the Indian word for it). Seriously, a little bird that’s kept in a tiny cage picks up some bits from a pile and based on that it can tell you your past, present and future. A bit like in A Christmas Tale, but replace the ghosts with a green bird.

So based on which cards the bird chose, the fortune was able to tell me (via a translator) the following:


– The course and education which I studied was different to what I actually wanted to study or should have studied.

– Just a few years back I had some associations with some girls which was not so good (nothing’s changed there then!)


– I have a good time to get married right now (yikes!)

– What I have now is much better in terms of relationships with friends and my life now is much better and what I’m choosing to do is much better than what I was doing before.

– I will not expect my parents money, or any of their wealth, or rather I would not be keen on taking it. I am more keen to make my own money than to take it. (doesn’t that make you feel much better, mum?)

– Apart from my job which I am currently doing, I will be having another income which pays me well. (seriously, how do they know this stuf?!)


– Some good news will come will come in 20 days (I will post back here on the 4th March, watch this space I guess)

– I have the opportunity to go to different parts of the world from India (Kenya!)

Funnily enough, the American client we were with and my boss had their fortune told as well and especially in the case of my boss the parakeet was particularly accurate about their past.


Give a Little Respect

Something you will discover about India is that there is a huge patriotic streak that runs through every citizen, but it only surfaces when they feel threatened, or as I believe, insecure about something – I have sat through frequent rants about how India is so much more enlightened and a better country than the West will ever be, usually after having made an innocuous statement like “India has poor people”. There is an inbuilt resistance to not wanting to hear anything bad about the country and in some ways I guess that is quite patriotic.

Oh yes, if you are Indian and you are reading this then I should forewarn you that you might get a little bit upset because I’m about to insult your country and your litter culture. While I welcome your comments and thoughts about the Indian attitude to littering there is no need to vent about something unrelated like the “western superiority complex”. The issue at hand is litter. Stick to it πŸ™‚

The modus operandi for Indian citizens is to have a mutual dislike with neighbouring states, much like the rivalry between England and Scotland. The dislike intensifies when talking about North India and South India. The South believes the North are all stupid (and given the latest case of student visa fraud in the UK, they may have a point) and the North generally regards the South as prudish and socially repressed (which again, is a fair point!).

But that all changes the moment someone insults or makes fun of India and you suddenly find that you have 1.2 billion very angry citizens to contend with.

Jai Hind. (roughly translates to “Victory to India”).

Take for example the racist attacks in Australia. The whole of India is currently united in their hatred of Australia with the forums and blogs full of tirades denouncing Australians as fundamentally racist.

(This of course coming from a country with a thousand years of the Caste system and where low caste communities have barriers and walls built around them to stop them coming near areas of high caste community, or where low caste people have to be buried in separate cemeteries to high caste people, or can’t even enter a temple of their faith)

Anyway, for a country that can be so patriotic and united, they appear to have very little respect for the land in which they live. It’s perfectly normal to be driving along, drinking a bottle of Coke and when you are finished with it, wind down the window and chuck it out, no matter where you are, or who it might hit.

Car interiors are kept spotlessly clean because whenever you are finished eating or drinking anything the packaging goes straight out the window. It doesn’t matter if it’s paper, plastic, metal, with not a thought for the environment (or who it might hit as it’s launched from the car) it gets unceremoniously dumped.

Thinking of taking the family out (and this is India, the immediate family will consist of 40 people) for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon? They will certainly come back with less than they took because all the food packaging, wrappers, containers etc. will be left behind, not even placed in to a bin, joining the rest of the litter from other family picnics.

When my company had a sports day, catering was laid on, plastic cups and plates were provided along with water bottles. At the end of the day when people were leaving what happened to all that rubbish? It was left behind, strewn across the playing fields, a job for someone else to pick up.

The point I’m trying to make here is that having a disregard for the environment and others around you isn’t a problem of the minority of people or even a majority of people. This is EVERYBODY. It cuts through age, gender and socio-economic boundaries.

I was on a very scenic railway while in Ooty – it’s actually a UNESCO world heritage site. I was sat in the first class carriage and a very wealthy middle class man in his early thirties was with his family. He was giving drinks and snacks to his young daughter and as she finished them he simply threw the packaging out the window, despite signs all over the place pleading people not to throw their litter.

I’ve challenged a few people on why they just throw their rubbish in the street instead of waiting to find a rubbish bin or taking it home and putting it in a bin there. The answers range from “why should we make our car get dirty” to “I feel tired carrying it around” to the ever arrogant “poor people can pick it up and sell it as scrap“. Yet bizarrely the same people will also agree that dumping rubbish is a big problem and people shouldn’t do it but without acknowledging that they are responsible for it.

Just why people drop their rubbish without a thought could take a deeper understanding of Indian culture than I’ve got in the last two years, but my own theories extend from the fact that middle and upper class people are so used to having other people do their dirty work (even I have a maid who cleans my apartment each day) that they are able to drop things in their own home and the maid will clean it up instantly. Whether it’s food packaging or spilt drink, the culprit rarely has to clean it up themselves.

Even in the office, an office boy will hand out small paper cups of tea and coffee and then has to go around clearing them all up as the office staff will not put them in the bin, or worse, simply drop them on the floor.

Another classic example of this just happened tonight at the restaurant where a portly middle aged gentleman knocked his glass off the table shattering it and spilling water everywhere but made no attempt to help out or even acknowledge the fact, he was more concerned about getting another glass of water. Even as the water and glass sat on the floor the waiters continued as if nothing had happened. Eventually a small boy came along with a dustpan and brush and cleaned up the mess – the gentleman in question didn’t even apologise or thank the person for cleaning it up.

I think it’s this “I’m too good to clean up any mess” attitude that they take with them when they go out of the house, to them dropping their litter and trash is as normal as breathing, they’ve always done it, everyone else does it, so what’s the problem? As I said, there just isn’t any thought about how it might affect others or the environment, as long as the used packaging is no longer in your life, who cares what happens to it.

This uncivilized and thoughtless attitude is carried over to the incredible beauty spots all over India. Despite a million signs and rubbish bins, Indians continue to drop their litter as if they are too good or too worthy to be carrying rubbish and somehow it’s the responsibility of the poor and low caste to clean it all up for them.

Now, I’m writing this blog post in Ooty, one of the most beautiful places in all of Tamil Nadu with breath taking scenery everywhere you look, and yet despite the awe inspiring views around me, I found that I was becoming increasingly annoyed with the middle class Indian for the complete and utter disrespect they have for their country, other people and ultimately, themselves.

What should have been an entry of stunning scenery instead turned in to a rant about disrespectful Indians with no civic sense whatsoever. It’s not even as if they can claim there is no where to put their rubbish as there are bins literally everywhere.

I’ve included photos in the hope that it shames at least some people to think twice before throwing the empty water bottle, cigarette packet, tissue, crisp packet or coke can out the car window when they are finished with it.







Now, cue angry responses from Indians who claim they don’t drop any litter at all!

The Two Indias and Generalizations

I’ve been accused on more than a few occasions (well, OK, on every blog post I make that mentions India) of over generalizing (yes, weirdly, my English has be Americanized since being in India and I now spell stuff with zee’s insteaded of esses) with my sweeping statements about the country, population and culture.

To some extent this is very true, but if I noted the exceptions to my generalizations they’d be longer than the blog post itself and then it would be, well, frankly boring. Even more boring infact.

However, I thought I’d talk some more about these generalizations, and then add a few more micro-generalizations in to the mix to annoy my Indian friends even more πŸ™‚

The first generalization that I make is that I often allude to the fact that I’m talking about all of India, when infact what I may have observed or seen was just in Chennai, a city in the state of Tamil Nadu. To put this in perspective, imagine if I said everyone in Europe eats big sausages called frankfurters because I went to Munich and saw people eating them there. Get the picture?

The second generalization that I make is that I assume that what happens in the cities is the same as what happens in the rural countryside. Again, to give this some perspective, imagine if I said all teenagers in England wear their trousers below their arse and have big hoodie tops because I’d been to Brixton in London and seen this.

India should probably be called the United States of India because each state has its own language, culture and customs. They even have state laws, so some states are dry (like Gujurat) while others are fairly liberal with alcohol laws (like Goa). I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again, but you have to imagine Europe being one country and then you can understand how varied the India is and how difficult it must be to manage.

What’s more is that North India is different to South India. South India is generally (there goes those generalizations again!) considered to be more conservative than the North, so anytime I mention something being ridiculously conservative or prudish, it may not apply to North India.

Similarly the metros (that’s major cities to you and I) are a much different kettle of fish to the rural areas. It’s fairly safe to say that the metro cities are less conservative and traditional than the rural counter parts. Infact, someone told me that marriage within the family almost never happens within the city now πŸ™‚ awesome progress!

So when reading my blog and I use the stock phrase “in India”, consider the fact that I might be talking about something I saw down a side street in a slummy part of Chennai πŸ™‚

As one of my friends said: Everything you’ve heard or read about India is true. But then, the opposite is also true.

If You Go Down To The Beach Today

Given the utter lack of things to do in Chennai (ie. the pub) on Sunday evenings, Chennai, as a whole, converges en-masse to a place known as Marina beach. I often forget that Chennai is a coastal city but it’s just a short 10 minute train ride to get to the beach.

Marina beach is the place to go, it’s like Blackpool but not as bad. Families play with their kids, newly weds and secret couples sit slightly closer to one another trying to look nonchalant (but no touching!) and groups of lads do whatever it is young men do and talk about in India. Talk about cricket I guess. Amazingly you’ll also find small groups of young lady’s on the beach – quite what they are doing out of their hostels and on their own I don’t know! :p

When I went to the beach this weekend I did notice a large mixed group of young twenty somethings – presumably MBA students – sitting in a circle and chatting away to one another, however, true to the norms of the society in this part of the country, dignity was maintained by having all the girls on one half of the circle and all the guys on the other.

The beach is like India everywhere, the rich rub shoulders with the poor. If you sit or remain stationary for more than a few minutes, hawkers converge on you like the plague, peddling everything from food of a dubious quality to palm reading and even parakeets that can foretell your future by selecting cards from a pile. You’ll even get the unfortunately disformed beggars trying to touch you and ask you for money and as a foreigner you are definitely seen as a walking ATM!

Oh yes, and as a foreigner if the hawkers don’t get to you first then it’s because some locals have come over to speak to you. Some of my friends can find this quite tiring but I personally love the attention and curious nature of the people here! However, the questions are always the same…

  • “You are from?”
  • “How you like India?”
  • “You like our food?”
  • “How you find our climate?”
  • “This is your wife?” (pointing to my friend)
  • “You have been in India how long?”

Then when they learn that you’ve been living and working in India for the last two years the focus of the questions change…

  • “You have a smart salary?”
  • “How much you earn?”


And then, after chatting for you for 5 minutes, during which time you grow more conscious of the fact that you have not asked them a single question they ask for “your good name” and ask if they can exchange contact details with you – as a result my phoneboook is stuffed full of numbers for young and middle aged Indian men who I’ve met for all of 5 minutes, answered the same questions and never spoken to again in my life…if only it was this easy to get women’s numbers!

Back to the beach.

While the Indian middle classes are still learning about recreation, downtime and life beyond the office / shop / factory, the deep rooted traditional values of the south remain intact. Women do venture in to the sea but this being India they keep themselves covered from head to toe – yep, they go in to the sea fully dressed, it’s quite bizarre!

Unfortunately, from a personal point of view, no where sells buckets and spades for creating massive sand castles, so one of my few talents is completely wasted on the beaches of Chennai πŸ™