Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chennai Day-Trip

I know, I know, its been a week since I posted. But I have a
good excuse. Or an excuse, anyway. I've been working 12+
hour days all week!

Yesterday, though, was a very interesting day. The good
folks I work with here set up a guide to take a couple of us
Americans to several locations of interest here in the city.

First, we went to St. Thomas Mount. Now, I'll show my
ignorance here, but apparently Thomas the apostle is
believed to have come to India around 50 A.D., introduced
the locals to Christ, and was killed soon after.

On the hill where he was killed, a church has been erected.
Inside the church they have a stone that he was supposedly
carving when he was killed. The stone shows a carving of a

So we visited the church on St. Thomas Mount. In addition to
the church, there were also several great views of Chennai
up there. And there was a convenience store called 'Mount
Manna'. Not sure why I think that's so funny. But I do.

Next we drove around the city a bit. I took pictures of some
crowds and interesting buildings, but nothing to ... er ...
write home about. Hrm.

After that we stopped at the oldest Anglican church in
India, St. Mary's church. Built 300+ years ago, between the
beach and a military base. For one reason or the other, the
walls and ceiling are bomb-proof, like 5 feet thick.

They also had several books and logs, like a baptism
registry from 1817.

Next up we walked along the beach, the 2nd longest beach
in the world (behind Rio de Jeneiro).

Then we went to Sant Thome Church, where the remains of
Thomas the apostle are (apparently) buried. (Pardon my
skepticism, I just haven't researched this at all.)

Finally we stopped at a Hindu temple not far from Sant Thome
Church. I didn't take pictures there, because I was low on
cash and they charged 25 Rs (something like $.60) to take
pix of their temple.

All in all, a good time. Talk to you later,

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

India Part Deux

I wrote the following in a business class lounge at the DFW
airport, while waiting for my flight.

Celeste and the kids dropped me off at the airport shortly
past 2 on Sunday, and I've found my way through check-in and
security, and into a lounge available to people flying
Lufthansa Business Class. Trip number 2 to India.

It is not lost on me how blessed I am that I am traveling
for a big corporation. This lounge is quiet, and has a bar
full of chips and cookies and cokes and fruit juices and
bottled water.

On one side of the lounge is a huge window overlooking the
runways on the west side of DFW, and I've seen several
planes take off an land so far, the sun glinting off the
windshields and wings. Apparently the room is fairly
soundproof because I've barely heard any airplane engines.

All in all, if you gotta travel, this is a great way to go.

On the last trip I flew American to Frankfurt, and waited at
the gate. It seemed like any other flight I was waiting for.
This trip, however, as I sit here in a Lufthansa business
traveler lounge, I'm struck by the number of people here who
are blatantly European.

One teenage boy wears glasses with very block frames -- as a
matter of fact, I see several pairs of very rectangular
glasses framing eyes around the room. Several are wearing
shoes that look a little like boots -- pointed toes, and
slight, thick heels -- but they stop at the ankle, like
someone forgot to finish the tops. A couple of the ladies
nearby are probably in their 40's, but wearing shirts that
bare their midriff. And very little makeup.

I'm from Texas; a woman with no makeup is practically
screaming 'not from here'. Four of them makes me wonder if
they've somehow snuck me out of the state as I passed
through security.

Of course, when I pass through Frankfurt and get on the
flight to Chennai, I'll say goodbye to these European travel
companions, and say hello to a host of people from India.
Their style of dress is both more the same and more
different. Many of the men look like they could have stepped
out of an office near mine in Fort Worth -- khaki pants,
polo or button-down shirts, loafers or other typically-
American dress shoes.

Some of the women will also be wearing western-looking
clothes. However, many of the ladies will be wearing two
outfits that are only rarely seen in the west -- sarees
and salwar kameez. I'll see if I can get a picture of them,
or maybe find pictures on the internet.

Truly, these trips to India are exposing me to cultures that
I've never had much cause or opportunity to notice.

Talk to you soon,