Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Holi hai! ...among other things

The metal rings of my belt, much like my social life, simply have not been the same since I find myself running into the Bay of Bengal. It’s only been about a week since my last post, but it’s been a busy one.

First and foremost: Holi!! I’ve enjoyed mini celebrations of the Hindu festival of colors in the past, but nothing could compare to celebrating in its home country. To be fair, the festival is little observed in the south, but a group of north Indian girls from the hostel pulled me in for our own celebration, beach style. Piling into three rickshaws, four or five in each, we made our way to Elliot Beach in Besant Nagar, smaller than Chennai’s famed Marina Beach (which is second longest in the world) but notably cleaner. Cameras and cell phones were shielded in plastic baggies, then everything else was fair game for a color dousing – including willing passersby and a stray dog. Douse in color, dip in Bay of Bengal, repeat.

The next day, Eureka welcomed loads of children from across Tamil Nadu for their state level science competition, held on Saturday. Friday’s welcome, however, necessitated another beach – this time Marina – as we loaded the kids onto a public bus (now there’s an entertaining challenge for you) and headed out for an evening of singing, games, and getting our feet wet as the sun set on the busy shoreline.

Later in the evening, a fellow Holi celebrator found me enjoying the breeze on the hostel roof, and we naturally fell into conversation, which of course led to a joint Saturday outing in search of a good lunch, gelato, and harem pants. Having successfully located all three by the end of the afternoon, we headed back to the hostel and parted ways until dinner (which, American readers should note, is after 8pm), for which I joined her and a group of 4 other north Indians, all in Chennai as they work towards Masters degrees.

The combination of people worked out so well that I was summoned for a late Sunday night outing, this time finding myself with two of the guys from Saturday, plus one of their fellow MBA students. It’s times like that – sitting at a rooftop bar with three Bengali fellows and swapping stories over tandoori chicken, fries, and beer – that I can’t help but sit back, shake my head, and smile. My first full weekend in Chennai, it was an incredibly promising one, to say the least.

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