Last week is becoming a blur very quickly. There was Wednesday at Kosmaderma....lol which turned into one big appointment for five fabulous ladies! Thursday which started out as a cocktails on the roof shindig that turned into a wonderful potluck dinner with the kiddos, and Friday night that John and I finally discovered Modern Family. Heehee we watched all of Season 1 and enjoyed every minute of it.
I wish I could say that the road to Chennai was exciting, (it wasn't) but it was really interesting. Every fifty miles or so we would come to these areas of the freeway where it was almost party like....people hanging out, literally on the freeway. There would be these little pockets of freeway where there seemed to be hordes of people and small shops. All right smack on the freeway and people would be sitting out right alongside the road as all these cars zoomed by. I could not get a good shot with my camera as it was night time and we were moving along too quickly but it was an interesting thing to ponder. As in "aren't they afraid they are going to become road kill?" See, it's really, really dark on those roads and seeing those people in the middle of the road at all hours, well just seemed mighty dangerous to me. And though we had to pee....we never once felt comfortable enough to stop at the Indian reststop (i.e. the side of the road).
We got into Chennai about five hours after we left Bangalore. The hotel was a short distance from the Consulate but as there was a lot of road construction, it took us about forty five minutes to find the hotel. We stayed at the Raintree, which is known for it's eco friendliness. It was a nice hotel but I gotta tell you I didn't like that it was a glass see thru window that separated the bathroom from the rest of the room. I know we've been married 7 years but still....I like the door closed thank you very much with no audience please. I did finally see that there were blinds in there thank goodness, but still not a fan of that set up.
I am very happy to report that the whole Consulate, passport page errand went very smoothly. Bruce and I had made our appointments, filled out our forms and pages were added to both our passports and we were in and out of there in less than 45 minutes. Why can't all of India run that smoothly? (John just piped in "because it is run by Americans!")
About half an hour later Shankar and I are in a textiles shop as I refused to go to visit his mother and father without a gift. We could not find flowers so instead I bought two packages of sari material for his mother and a shirt that Shankar just knew his father would love. I'm usually very selective when picking gifts, and this time was no exception....but it was getting hot and I knew I had to hurry it along. We picked out some gifts and we headed to meet his family.
I'll be honest. John and I were worried about eating home made food in a "local's home". Would they use tap water or filtered water? Where would they have gotten their meats and veggies? Our worries increased to a high level of alert when we entered the alley of the neighborhood to which they lived. I had always wondered about these small apartments that were stacked up right on top of each other in these lively neighborhoods...wondered how big they were, did they have toilets and kitchens? Well I was about to find out!
Shankar's parent's apartment was tiny. Their whole three room apartment was smaller than Bruce's bedroom. The had a living area which became a bedroom at night, a bedroom with a sink and tiny bathroom area, and a kitchen. But don't feel bad because they were very proud of their home as they should be. It was spotless and seemed roomier than it really was. They had a daybed in their living area that doubled as a couch and bed, they had a small entertainment table that they rolled from against a wall to use as our dining table, and a wall that that was also a shrine devoted to Ganesh. Shankar seemed so proud to be introducing us to his family and they in turn seemed so happy for us be there. The minute we walked in we were treated like celebrities, or VIP's. They were so nice and happy and really made us feel welcome. The mother took my gifts and gave me a small bouquet of roses. We felt comfortable and at ease as soon as we stepped into their home. It was with great relief that John and I both eyed the bottled water dispenser and it was with empty stomachs that we sat down to eat a lunch consisting of fried fish, mutton of lamb and chicken gravy over rice.....well all I can say is it was the best food we have had since we moved to India. So we dug in....and John and I shared a secret chuckle over how much food "momma Shankar" was trying to put on John's plate. The food was delicious. And I mean it. Why can't I find a cook who can cook like that? Damn. It was soooo good. The weird thing though was that they were all just standing around watching us eat and smiling. We had to beg and insist that they join us! When in Rome do like the Roman's right? What I mean by that is Indians don't use silverware to eat. It reminded me of growing up with tortillas and tex mex food, you would tear up a tortilla and scoop up the meats, rice and beans and and whatever else on your plate and just shove it in your mouth. It's a little different here in India as sometimes there is roti and other various Indian breads to scoop up your food with, but most of the time they just move the rice around and pile it up after it's mixed with veggies, chicken gravy, or whatever else is on the plate and scoop it up with their fingers and eat it with one hand. John couldn't understand how his food was falling all over his face and I was very lady like and pristine even while only using my fingers as well, haha! The food was truly good and we had a fun time trying to outdo each other without silverware. Shankar's mother, was so pleased that we were enjoying our food that she insisted on sending us home with leftovers and we did not argue:). It was a very nice lunch and even though it was a bit on the spicy side we kept filling our stomachs as it was just that good! After we ate our fill, we started to notice how hot it was starting to get in that small apartment. After lunch was finished and the dishes were cleared I noticed that I was sweating. They had two fans going, one on each end of the small living area and yet it was starting to get mega hot. There were only two very small windows with no breeze. I looked at John and he was sweating too. We knew we had a long road trip ahead so although we hated to eat and run, the sweltering heat of the day was upon us and eat and run we did. But first Bruce had to go poo poo. Here is where we got to find out if they had a toilet or what....and yes! They did have a toilet! Whew. You will understand my elation when you visit :-~.
This worked out really well as Shankar's son "Daviraj" sat in the back and watched movies with Bruce. Shankar's sister "Sushman" sat up front with Shankar and kept him company and John and I reclined in our seats with full tummies and tried to nap. Well I know I did.
Seven hours later......traffic on the road home was insane in the membrane.........we finally made it home.
John asked me shortly after we returned home if I were going to be up for another road trip soon....I say BRING IT ON.
That's all for now folks,