Adventures in Chennai, Day Two

Today was a much less eventful day than yesterday, thankfully. However, I have spent most of the day trying to keep my eyes open. I think the jet lag and lack of sleep and just the difference in time zone are starting to catch up to me.

Sleeping has been weird. I can’t sleep well. Humidity is very high here and even in my air conditioned room, its cool, but everything has a slight dampness to it, which makes sleeping very uncomfortable. After I finally fall asleep around 2 the past few nights, I toss and turn and then wake up at 6:30am and cannot keep sleeping. I actually feel pretty refreshed when I wake up, but around noon, I am already starting to feel the drowsies. All day today I felt like I was on anti-histamine or something. We got to the offices around 10am and got back to the hotel tonight at 10pm.

Even though I should be hungry by now, I am too tired to eat. Meal times are different here, too. We’ve been eating lunch at around 2 or 3 everyday. Dinner last night was at around 9:30pm and is non-existent tonight. At home, we usually eat dinner somewhere between 5:30 and 7:00pm. I was told that it would be very rare that anyone eat dinner before 7pm. Part of it is the work schedules. Most people don’t get in to the offices until 10am, so they don’t get off work until 8 or 9 or later anyway.

It seems the 8-hour shift is a myth that they know nothing about here. I really feel bad for them. We left the offices at 9:30 tonight and no one else had gone home yet. I asked if they got paid by the hour and they do not. They are just accustomed to working long hours – usually 12 hours and are probably happy to just have a job.

Today for lunch we went to an Indian-Thai place. Very interesting. I usually love Thai food, but was not a big fan of anything I ate at this lunch. I was pretty much just eating to not appear like a snob. I heard there is one McDonald’s in this city. Good luck finding it, but I could really go for some french fries about right now. :)

Earlier this evening around 7:00pm a few of us took a break to play a game. They were telling me about this game at lunch called Carrom. It is one of the official “sports” of India. This explains what it is. Its kinda like pool but instead of a rectangular table with 6 pockets, you use a square board with 4 pockets. And instead of using balls and cues, you use checkers or “pucks” as they call them and flick them with your finger into the pockets. Its actually quite fun and I really enjoyed playing. It would be fun to get a hold of a Carrom board and continue playing it. Can’t buy one here, because its too big to fit in the suitcase, but it would also be neat to try to make one. The one we used was all wood and the checkers were wood. The board has a really fine talcum powder or something on it so the pucks glide smoothly over the wood surface. We played about 5 games and I didn’t win any of them, but they were impressed by my “cut shots”, as they called it – type of angled bank shot that anyone would use in billiards. It was fun – I hope to play it again sometime before we leave.

I forgot to mention that last night we had a beer with dinner called “Kingfisher”. It is the only beer they serve at this hotel and it is an uniquely Indian beer. I was looking at the label and I noticed a little note that said, “Liquor ruins country, family and life.” Interesting, isn’t it? I guess kinda like the surgeon general’s note on a pack of cigarettes. I thought it was interesting though how they didn’t say liquor was bad for your health, but bad for your country and life and family. All too often that is absolutely true.

Tomorrow afternoon we are going to Pondicherry, which is about a 3 hour drive south along the coast. It is a resort and that’s where we’ll spend the weekend. This is the website for the hotel where we’ll be staying. Supposedly there are some temples and interesting sites to see along the way. I’m hoping its cleaner and less chaotic there. :)

Sunday afternoon we’ll head back to Chennai and get ready for two more days at the office before finally heading home. Part of me – ok, most of me – wants to just fast-forward to next Wednesday when we come home, but I’m trying to enjoy the journey along the way.

I miss home, I miss Cori and the kids terribly. But I also don’t want to miss the opportunities to see life through these peoples’ eyes. I’m sure I’ll keep these memories with me my whole life and they’ll impact things I do and think in ways I’d never be able to know otherwise.

My goal was to get to bed before midnight, but here it is 12:05am, so I’m off to go collapse. Good night from half way around the world. :)

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