Thanjavur, India

May 18 - 19

My photos of Thanjavur can be viewed here.

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All my photos of India can be viewed here.

Memories:

The bus ride from Pondichery was long, but not too miserable. The man taking the tickets let me know when to get off and helped me get my bag down, a little kid slept on me for the first half of the trip, and a sweet girl shared her cucumbers with me. We tried to communicate with each other, but it didn’t work all that well. So we just stared at each other and smiled. Between intermittent bouts of sleep, I managed to finish half of the an Osho book Girish gave me.

Got in around 1, but the CS girl said she wouldn’t be free until 6pm. So…I wandered around all day with my backpack (which made me an obvious target). I went to the temple and sat in the grass to read, but it proved to be pretty impossible! Every time I opened my book, a swarm of people would gather around me and ask “What is your native place?” and “Basically, what is your good name?” Then they’d all want photos of me holding their babies. Then they’d all form a mob around me and take turns shaking my hand. There weren’t any other tourists around, so it seemed that I was a major celebrity here. After that, I found a veggie restaurant and received similar treatment. Everyone swarmed around me to watch me eat. A girl came up and kissed my hand. They kept pouring me free tea and explaining all the different types of chutneys. And even though its obvious I don’t understand Tamil, they kept talking and talking as if I understood everything they were saying. When I asked where the toilet was, three of the girls felt the need to escort me upstairs and wait outside the door until I was ready to go back to the restaurant. Sat there for a while to wait out the rain. Cute.

Met with Gwen (American CSer, archaeology student who speaks Tamil) and the sweet couple she shared a building with. Stayed one night, ate idli for breakfast with Gwen, she took me to the station and taught me how to buy a train ticket, and the couple offered to store my stuff while I wandered around some more. Walked around a bit, started walking to the Palace, but then felt indecisive and decided to hop in a rickshaw instead. Got my stuff and went to bus station bound for Madurai.

Good book I read that takes place in South India: Good of Small Things

Common questions asked by strangers: What is your salary? Are you married? What is your religion? What do your parents do? What is your good name? Coming from? What is your native place?

The left hand is unclean (as it’s what you use to wipe with). Always eat with the right hand only.

Thali meals are super filling. Everytime you make a dent in your food, they pile more onto your plate. Will keep scooping out more food until you politely put your hands over your plate and say “finished!”

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