Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bad Tourist

We spent the day today doing the tourist thing around Chennai. A little bit, anyway. There is only so much you can do in the stewing heat before you need to repair to a nice air conditioned restaurant.

We began our morning by oversleeping, thereby ruling out the possibility of visiting the Kapaleshwarar Temple before it got too hot and they padlocked the gates. We consoled ourselves with brunch and light shopping at Amethyst, and then we went off to the Theosophical Society headquarters. It was closed. We were told to come back at two pm. We then went to the Ashta Lakshmi Temple on Elliot Beach (temple to the goddess Lakshmi). It was closed. We were harassed for money by pretty much everyone around the temple gate and ended up paying four times the going rate for some kitsch stickers of Indian deities.

It was almost two, so we went back to the Theosophical Society, and there, we were underwhelmed. It droops with an air of disuse and general neglect. We weren't allowed into the library to see the fabled book collection. The Big Banyan tree under whose shade J Krishnamurti disavowed his association with the Society is dead, leaving behind only its many skinny offspring - still technically the same tree, but not quite as impressive. But the sign still announces the Banyan as the largest living tree of its sort. Hmmm.

It was nearing four, and we decided to repair to a nice air conditioned restaurant. Did I mention that this is how my touristing invariably ends? There we ate a belated lunch and drank frozen beverages. Yes, ice, just like we are not supposed to do in India. I eat raw food here too. I am a bad tourist this way, because I don't follow all those rules we are given ' for our own safety'. I figure that the quality of the establishment is a better indicator of whether you will get ill than the type of food. Hope I don't have to, ahem, eat my words.

Another reason that I am a bad tourist is that I have almost no interest in little-visited museums, closed temples and the like. I prefer nice restaurants, pretty shops, and the homes of real people when forming an impression of a city. I suspect there won't be much more wandering around looking at monuments in my relationship with Chennai. If I am lucky, though, a Chennaivasi or two will invite me into their home, and I will see how they live...

PS: For more of J Krishnamurti's thoughts, check out his recorded talks, Direct Perception and Transformation, on emusic.


Regina Clare Jane said...

I'm with you, Nadine- I like to go native only so far...;)
We always take curing pills with us when we go to a foriegn country- that way if our tummies get a bit wonky, the pills help in a jif. You are brave, though, I must say.
Very interesting about the Theosophical Society, though...
Looking forward to hearing more!

Recy Vintage & Creations said...

I'm like you about touristing. I'm not big on museums that are tedious and hard to navigate even though I always feel like I SHOULD check them out. I like shops and sitting at cute cafes and sipping nice drinks. That is MY kind of vacation. :)

Namaste to you today,

Karen Beth :)

GlamSpirit said...

Sounds like a tough day of travel to me. Hope you can rejoice, stay comfortable, and do whatever moves you.

rand(om) bites said...

I think I'd be a bad tourist too then. What's the story with the ice?