August 22, 2010

Experiencing India in Chennai

As you may know by now, I travel to India almost every month. I don't usually take pictures on my trip there because I hardly ever step out of the hotel and I usually have good Indian food only in the presence of customers. I can't simply whip out my camera in the middle of dinner unless I'm in the company of colleagues. 

This time I had the pleasure to visit the Chennai museum. I only managed to take a few sneaky pictures of some items in the Museum because cameras weren't allowed (unless I paid an extra 200 Indian rupees which I didn't have at the time). 

I have this love-hate relationship with India and I'll explain this in a bit...

What I love about India:
  • The fascinating culture and traditions stemming from Hinduism
  • The aromatic food filled with whole spices, especially Northern Indian food (yummy!)
  • Naan (a dough that is specially oven baked)
  • And most of all, the way that people still respect their cultures and keep in touch with their roots. The professional Indian woman will still prefer to wear Indian attire either a sari or tunic. Rarely will you see an Indian women dressed in pants or shirt unless they have a dress code. You will also see Punjabi men wearing turbans as a sign of their faith.  
What I do not particularly like about India:
  • Very dirty, crowded and extremely polluted in almost every city I've been to. The traffic is horrendous. 
  • Fear of eating food outside of the hotel because of my weak stomach
  • Gastritis after having too much spices in the food
  • Indian bureaucracy is a well known fact. Nobody likes to take responsibility and simple court cases take forever to resolve. I see a little bit of bureaucracy happening in the workplace especially in Indian companies. It's incredibly frustrating and I can write about this topic forever, although my observation is only limited to what I have experienced so far. 
Everyday I learn of something new on my trips to India. India is truly a fascinating place and you get to open your eyes to a completely different culture, which often takes you by surprise. The Indian influence stems as early as the 2600 BC and traditional Hindu sculptures have spread to countries like Indonesia and China.

These simplistic sculptures below were obtained from the Indus Valley Civilization (dated 3300 - 1300 BC). As you can see, these sculptures represents the advanced civilization at that era (and during this time the Danish were still fighting as vikings). It's interesting to note that human beings were only around for 5000 years and the earliest civilizations were dated around 3000 BC. I was shocked to see these sculptures in a simple glass cabinet without security! I'm appalled that the Indian government do not treasure these historical artifacts as much as other countries do.  

Although my knowledge on history is appalling, I used to like reading about the sabre-toothed tigers and dinosaurs. My colleague pointed out an interesting looking piece of wood that is now 2 million years old. And during this period, I can safely presume that there were plenty of dinosaurs and sabre-toothed tigers roaming around. Isn't it impressive?! Again, I'm surprised that it's not kept under a roof! 

Frogs could fly during that time, and these reptiles would have evolved to birds a long time ago. 

And I had to take a picture of this 8-limbed pig, preserved in the 1950s. Awesome!

The skeleton of a massive whale that stretched the roof of an entire room.

From curries to tandooris, Indian food is well-liked by most people. Typically, Indians living abroad will always have a regular Indian meal. Their foods are always cooked for hours and the meat is marinated to the bone. Some Indians have a preference for vegetarian food on certain days (usually weekdays) and non-vegetarian on others depending on the days of their Hindu belief (or personal preference!). We often say that someone's in a good mood to be having non-vegetarian on a weekday. 

Southern Indian food for dinner is often packed with a myriad of different curries. You can have different bread options and flavored rice. However, after days of Indian food, I often get a bloated stomach. It gets really uncomfortable.  

I hope you enjoyed this post. In your lifetime, you must visit India at least once. It's worth it! :)

1 comment:

Rainy Days and Lattes said...

I hope to one day visit India. I started becoming interested in Indian food within the past year. Before then, I used to despise Indian food because of the spices and the smell. There are a lot of people from India where I live because of the high tech industry here so I've tried some trendy Indian restaurants that I wasn't too crazy about. BUT I'm starting to really appreciate their foods, :) Their curries are creamy, and their meats are marinated for hrs. I really enjoy vindaloos and Chicken Tikka masala. I hope that's not too Western :p

Wow, and Indian bureaucracy. I had no idea that companies don't like to take responsibility for little things. That is really frustrating!

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