India Travel Diary

Saturday, Dec. 26, 1998

Today was a lazy day, as Niranjan’s IIT friend had traveled from Bangalore to meet him. About 4 o’clock or so, Amma took me to meet the family friends. She took us to a sweet shop before going to the friend’s home. She said you must take something if you visit someone. So we took some sweets.

The family friends were showing great hospitality. They asked me what was the difference I saw between India and US. I had a hard time in beginning to answer this question. As I drank the chai and ate the sweets presented to me, I talked a few things. They asked me if I was interested in Hinduism, I said yes. One person left the room and returned with 4 or more books, up to 10 I think, from his personal collection. I was stunned. I knew these were being presented to me. I felt odd. I mean this is definitely a difference in US and Indian custom! Where in US would I find such unselfishness and generosity? I politely tried to refuse them all. I took about 4 of them. The gesture was the greatest gesture I think anyone has ever shown me!

When returning home, Niranjan’s friend wanted to go to the train station as he wanted to go back to Bangalore, an overnight train journey from Chennai, so we set out. At this time, about 10 pm, the streets were still crowded! We had to ‘fight’ our way through the crowd near the entrance to the train station. In the train station, there is a separate line for women ticket purchasers and men ticket purchasers, and even to stand on the platform to board the train, you need a platform ticket! I guess there are also separate cars for women to ride, if they want to. I did not ride the train or bus in Chennai, only the rickshaw. I rode that for a total of maybe 15 minutes. This was the only thing in my whole trip which made me feel a little off. That was due to the rickshaw having to stop at a train crossing, and since rickshaws are open (no doors), all the pollution comes in and you are stuck! Plus the ride is bumpy! I survived!
December 25 December 27

Author and Photographer: Jennifer Polan
This page was created in July 1999.
This page has been visited times since it's revision in September 2001. Reviewed May 2004, March 2007.

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