Jon Michel a Colonel in the Air Force arrived one day before Deborah and I. He rented a car (which comes with a driver) and we (Deborah and I) went with Jon out to see the sites. Chennai reminds me of Bangkok. So many people, smells, lots of garbage, open sewer systems, tons of street vendors and markets. There are cars and tuk tuks everywhere and apparently there is a very common language usedin driving here--honking. Apparently honking means, lookout I am right next to you, or I am coming through, or get out of the way and so on...
Our first stop was the beach. It is supposed to be the second longest beach in the world. I can’t remember the name of the beach, I know it is the Bay of Bengal (bear with me I am so over the top tired right now but I made a commitment to journal each day before going to bed). There were all kinds of vendors on the beach. It is very hot, in the 90’s and very, very humid. After we walked on the beach our driver took us to a temple by the sea. A Hindu temple. We had to take off our shoes, then the priests took us on a tour of the temple. They offered something to several statues then gave us a handful of holy water to drink. I pretended like I did but did not. Then they took us to another part of the temple and asked us for money, they took the money made some sort of offering to the statues and put some kind of red powder in our money and gave it back. Apparently the red powder is for good fortune and it is also the same powder they put on your forehead like a third eye or something. I was not quite sure what it all meant. As we were in the temple there were several young Indian men and women with us. I would guess they were in their 20’s. When we were in the rooms with statues I noticed how these young people were so earnestly praying. They seemed very devout.
Our next stop was lunch. Our driver took us to the Sheraton Towers hotel. We had lunch in one of the restaurants…I had curry chicken, rice and naan bread. I liked the curry, the naan and the rice but honestly I couldn’t tell if it was really chicken or not so I did not eat the chicken. I am not very adventurous when it comes to strange food. I also lose my appetite when my sense of smell has been over stimulated by overpowering and pungent odors. I have to use a lot of energy to keep myself from feeling queasy.
The conversation at lunch with Deborah and Jon was great. We talked about Jon’s dream of taking one city in the U.S. and turning the entire city into a “serving city” that the faith communities and businesses, all the sectors would come together and work together as a city known for serving.
After lunch we went to Spencer Plaza which reminded me of a very small version of the MBK shopping center we went to in Bangkok. I bought a few items. I bought a pashmina and some silk scarves that were really quite inexpensive. They are beautiful. We got back to our hotel around 6:00 p.m. went to the bar and had a beer. Ray and several other students arrived this evening. We had some introductions and then Deborah and I retired to our room. Viju, is an Indian man that is one of our hosts while here. He is from Mumbai. He is staying in the hotel. He brought us water tonight. Deborah asked him what the fuzzy things were on the walls. He didn’t know but he phoned house keeping and had them come up and clean the walls. He is a very kind man.
For those of you that pray. Please pray that I could turn off my sense of smell for the next 2 weeks. Also, for my headaches, I was on the verge of one today but took some Tylenol and kicked it.
Tomorrow we are leaving at 7:00 a.m. to go on a city tour with our cohort and a couple of the professors.
I am really thankful I am traveling with Deborah. She’s great. Good night all.