It's been a few days since I've been able to log in to the internet. I also have a terrible internet connection as it is so I will have to wait for the next entry to post pictures. I have lots of them and I'm actually in some of them since I'm with Senthil!
He brought me flowers when he picked me up and they are now making a nice decoration in my hotel room! He drove three hours to get me and we made our way to Pondicherry. This is a former French colony that still has a big French influence. Most of the streets are in french (Rue de ...), most of the schools are french schools, the policemen wear french-looking uniforms. It's a fun mix of french and indian culture.
I am having the time of my life exploring around with Senthil. We go everywhere on his bike which is also a blast and a nice escape from the blazing heat. Well, not an escape since I have a perpetual burn going on, but at least I have breeze and can't feel myself getting burned. :)
Pondicherry is home to a very famous ashram. We went there a few days ago. It was amazingly serene and calm. We sat and meditated for a bit. I could get used to that on a regular basis but not all of the time. I just like talking too much... Some of their teachings say that talking is primitive... Well, I guess I'm primitive then. It's been nice to have a friend here with me. He's helping me to avoid the HOT foods, telling me lots of Hindu stories, taking me to temples, etc. I went to one temple of Ganesh (the elephant head god) and I rubbed ash on my forehead. There's lots of significance to everything here and I love the spirituality of it all. While Hinduism is so different from Western religions, in many ways I have found similarities. The teachings are all very similar and the end goal is the same. It makes sense to me that all religions are pretty much the same, or they at least take very different routes to getting to the same thing.
Yesterday we went to the 'boat house' which is on a river, shaded on each side by beautiful coconut trees. We took the boat over to 'Paradise Beach' which I would say was properly named. It's right at the point where the ocean and the river join. All of the people on the boat were asking about me (in Tamil to Senthil). I'm from America? How do I like Obama? Who did I vote for?
Senthil had booked my hotel room for me. I told him I wasn't picky but he still went to over 100 hotels until he picked one before I came. I owe him big time.
We've wandered through markets, went to a lake and rental a paddle boat (only made it about 10 minutes since it is too hot even for the indians; imagine how I'm doing :)), walked along the beach at dusk, listened to a concert, went to dinner with his friends, wandered around on the bike. This is the best way to experience India!
On Saturday afternoon, I am going to his parents house for a traditional Indian meal. Quite looking forward to that. After that I think we will leave Pondicherry and go to Trichy and some other places around here with lots of temples.
Pictures are coming!