Tuesday, May 6, 2008


We took a day trip to Mamallapuram today. Two hours on a dirty, dusty bus sitting quite close to everyone else. Mamallapuram is a shoreside temple site/village that was actually hit hard in the 2004 tsunami. In fact, I think there used to be two temples there, but the bigger one was swept out to sea. The whole complex is covered in carvings, elephants, gods, goddesses, and lots of cows. Beautiful. My favorite part, though, was the sea. The first beach we came to was not actually a resort type beach. THere were fisherman's boats along the shore and it was actually quite there except for the roar of the grey sea. It seemed so huge and peaceful, but somehow dangerous too. We hiked around the rocks they put out around the surviving temple (to save it from the sea) and came to a resort beach. I can't get used to how colorful it all is. So much more so than anything in the US. The women all stayed fully wrapped in their saris and shrieked as they got up to thier ankles in the sea. The men, and expecially boys, were not so modest or so timid; they bathed in it, letting it sweep them off and bring them back again. A few people there had horses, and I think I saw some goats. The little sea side shops were fantastic, and I had to really put on the self restraint not to buy any little hand made sculptures or seashell necklaces.

We went further inland to another temple with a huge relief behind it that boasts one of the best elephant sculptures in India. Not to shabby, I must say. The hardest part was when I went deep into the temple to see the sleeping Shiva. I thought it was hot outside, but inside was indescribable. I got a blessing though, Shiva's little silver hat thing on my head and the waving flame deal. I gave the priest a rupee for donation and stumbled out into the more bearable heat. By the way, those of you who are thinking you know what heat is, think again. Not even Argentina on it's worst day comes near what I have been living in here. It's amazing, though, how much they do all day. The city is a huge bussle of activity all day, not even a siesta during the hottest hours. It's so dirty, though. There are no trashcans, except in very expensive government buildings. Trash lines all the streets and every once in a while the smell is all but overwhelming. Going away to Mamallpuram was a blessing. Still messy but nothing like Chennai.