Like fresh coconuts on a hot day:
Tiny bookshops with great books on Ayurveda, Yoga Philosophy, and Sanskrit
And Indian sweets!
Something I really appreciate and respect is how deeply ingrained spirituality is in daily life here. Everywhere you look, it seems, is a little shrine, a temple/church/mosque, a bumper sticker, or some other reminder of the Divine. For instance, in my friend's apartment, these are on the fridge. You find this kind of thing everywhere:
After a great but tiring week of class, three classmates and I were ready for a little respite from the chaos of Chennai. So, we headed to Mahalabipuram, a town on the coast, for an overnight stay. On the way, we stopped at Dakshina Chitra, a little village they describe as "a non-profit community service project of the Madras Craft Foundation for the promotion and preservation of the cultures of the diverse people of India with emphasis on Tamil Nadu, Keala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka." Artists from different villages in the surrounding counties have stands where they showcase their artwork and crafts. It was a really special place.
Afterwards, we checked in at the Chariot Hotel, which looked promising. We had a nice lunch and a swim in this massive pool.
When we went up to our room, though, they called us back down to the front desk, telling us that we are not allowed to stay four people in a room and that we must buy another room. Long story, blah blah blah, we left this place for another beautiful hotel that had been recommended to us called Ideal Beach Resort. We had already told Deva, our driver, that we wouldn't need to be picked up until the next day, so he went with a friend to a movie. So, we started walking to Ideal Beach. At one point, two cows were headed towards us and a motorcycle was headed towards us in another direction. Intending to go between the cows, I waited for the motorbike to pass. When I turned around to start walking between the cows, he was much closer than I anticipated. We were both a little startled but he brushed it off with a flick of his tail and I with a deep hearty laugh! We eventually found a rickshaw to take us the rest of the way to Ideal Beach, where the service was much better. We had a great evening getting to know each other over dinner and drinks. The next day, we explored the resort a little further. Ideal Beach is located on the Indian Ocean, which is beautiful. The waves and currents are rough, so we just stuck our feet in the cool water but even that was nice and refreshing in the sweltering heat!
Next, we did a little shopping. This is a picture of us at a stone carving shop where I found a great Patanjali statue!
Next, we hit up some temples.
On our way to the next temple, we saw this beautiful carving stone on the side of the road. Notice the Patanjali! (He's on a snake with a snake hood in front of the elephant).
Lastly, we hit up the Shore Temple, called so for obvious reasons.
Thanks again to our wonderful driver, Deva, who takes good care of us!