Posts Tagged ‘mamallapuram’


I haven’t gone too far from Auroville and Pondicherri just yet.  I’m travelling with my friend Eliza and her (now also my) friend Mike, both intrepid wanderers who have graciously taken me under their weathered wings and are teaching me the tricks of the travelling trade.

A two hour, uneventful bus ride brought us to Mamallapuram, a colorful costal town of plentiful hotels and easy to find European cuisine.  I still have a feeling that I have yet to encounter the “real” India.  If there even is such a thing.  The main attractions here are caves that were chiseled out of solid rock, with lion sculptured pillars lining the entrances and Hindu gods carved into friezes on the interior walls.  The ancient carving tradition lives on in the stone trinkets sold in nearly every other shop, but one carver told me that a business man is flying him and ten of his students out to New York to carve sculptures for his garden.  So the craft lives on.

I think the most memorable thing about Mamallapuram for me will not be its stone carvings, but someone that I met.  I was laying on a large boulder under a tree in the park where the stone caves are, hiding from a brutal afternoon sun.  With the large stones and plentiful vegetation, the area reminded me a lot of central park… with monkeys and goats running around.  So there I was, staring up at the patches of sky between the tree above me, daydreaming, when a little girl walks up the little hill to stand next to my rock.

“Where are you from?” she asked me in surprisingly good English, and then launched into conversation.  This ten year old girl wanted to be a scientist when she grew up.   She said it as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.  She’s already built a speaker from scratch, and had such good English because she went to school for it on Saturday.  As I was talking to her, I couldn’t help but think about all of the times I’d read about India becoming one of the next big super powers of the world.  Yes, there’s garbage everywhere because there are hardly any trash cans (which I’m sure I’ll write about later), and yes the roads are super dangerous and not well paved, and yes many people live in one-room homes that don’t even compare to US suburban duplexes.  But  Indians seem to have an incredible sense of national pride.  They are determined to succeed, and to bring India to success.  They have the fiery passion that’s lacking in much of the US’s youth.  This is a huge generalization, but that’s because at this point it’s only a growing hunch, reaffirmed by the conversation with this ten year old. It’s something that at least deserves some more thought.

Anyway, we’re heading to Chennai tonight to catch an overnight train to Hampi.  It’ll be my first train ride ever, so I’m really excited for it.  Let you know how it goes!

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