Greetings from Mamallapuram! My name is Mike and I am one of the participants in the 2010 South Indian Odyssey.
Well we’ve finished our second day in Mamallapuram and are preparing to head out to Chidambaram mid day tomorrow. Before we head out of Internet range for a couple of days I wanted to take some time to share a couple of thoughts that I’ve realized in the past couple of days with all of you in Internet land:
Investigating our habits – I’ve decided to take this trip (my second) through India to practice a little self study experiment. I love experiments and I feel it’s the best way for me to concretely see what affects certain actions I perform have on my life. My experiment is to commit to eating only an Indian vegetarian diet (take a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and cut out the eggs) as well as cutting out all of the alcohol from my diet while in India on this trip.
I’m not a strict vegetarian back home (my friends in Edwards, Colorado can attest to my love of our weekly Burger Night at eTown) and I have been known to imbibe in a beer or two (Colorado has some pretty great micro-brewed beers available locally).
My reason for this little experiment is to show myself that my life is perfectly fine without meat/eggs and alcohol. This little experiment could be considered a form of tapas and while not as extreme as some forms of tapas it will still be a great undertaking for me. It won’t be terribly difficult because here in India vegetarian meals are plentiful and alcohol is somewhat “expensive” so there’s no need to think “how will he get through this”. I will still have to make some conscious decisions at meal time since some of our group will be partaking in a bit of drinking at meals (although we’ll all be eating vegetarian so that part is easy) but I’m confident that I’ll make it through unscathed and probably a little narrower around the waist as well. 🙂
Remaining open to others – If you’ve been to India you may have experienced the difficulty that occurs when interacting with locals. The Indian people are wonderful people but due to cultural and language barriers I find personal interactions are hard to come by.
The other day Dandapani and I were out in Mamallapuram at the tailor shop (India has wonderful tailors and the clothes they make are inexpensive and very nice) and we were talking to the shop owner. Discussions were going well but the mood very business oriented. All of a sudden something changed and the next thing we knew we were having a cup of chai tea with the man. I can’t put my finger on what shifted but I am glad that we were both were open enough the recognize the shift and explore it further. The next day I went back to the shop to collect the shirt I had made and spent a good 30 minutes joking and laughing with the shop owner. As I left the shop, the shop owner shook my hand and even gave me a hug as I left.
I may never see this man again in either of our lifetimes but I know that in that short period of time I had a positive affect on his life and he had a positive effect on my life. The moral of this story is that even though it may seem hard and you may feel like a connection may never happen if you stay open to people around you every once and a while you’ll form a connection with a person that may touch you deeply.