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Many of the women in Chennai wear orange blossom garlands in their hair, and the scent, wafting behind them in the warm air, is a sensual delight!
You can see women stringing the flowers onto thread to create the garlands everywhere - I found the best place to buy them was outside Egmore Station. They make garlands out of other flowers too, which seem to be bought as temple offerings, but the orange blossom ones seem to be the ones to wear.
Updated Dec 14, 2010
Chennai Sangamam is an arts festival showcasing various arts of Tamil Nadu held evrey January. Chennai Sangamam is all about Chennai and the best of it. That is why it attracts thousands of tourists from arround the world.
Written Jun 25, 2008
Be prepared for noise - constant, piercing noise. Most vehicles have horns and backup alarms that sound like bad cell phone ringers ("Silent Night," for example, but ending at "all is bright," and with two notes flat - infuriating). Elevators yell at you when you don't shut them properly. People yell to each other for everything.
Updated Apr 15, 2006
Be prepared for being stared at, especially if you're fair. No harm is meant, it's mostly curiosity. Although I've had enough little kids stop and stare wide-eyed and drop-jawed that I'm tempted to wear a little sign saying "Homo sapiens, northern variety. Do not feed chilies." Most everyone is very friendly, though, given the chance. Smile back, you'll be rewarded.
Updated Apr 15, 2006
Nearly everything is enclosed with walls - many, many of those walls are topped with barbed wire or, more disturbingly, big shards of glass. Government buildings, okay, but also schools, private homes, or the Theosophical Society (pictured). I haven't figured this one out yet.
It's a shame, since a lot of the things behind the walls are very pretty (parks, gardens, architecture). Incidentally, in many places the flora and fauna appear to be winning, like the banyon tree in the picture.
Written Aug 27, 2005
This is not only permissible, it’s expected. If you are eating any form of flat bread, that’s your spoon—tear small pieces, fold them slightly, and scoop up whatever else you’re eating. If you’re eating rice, first you moosh it up with whatever else you’re eating, then make a sort of spoon out of your fingers—right hand, straight fingers, thumb on top to kind of push the food into your mouth. Apparently, the amount of hand involvement in the mooshing stage is particular to different communities, ranging from delicate ends-of-the-fingers-only to food-past-the-wrist. Most restaurants have communal sinks to wash off; good restaurants bring you a bowl of water with a piece of citrus fruit in it and a towel.
It’s a very satisfying way to eat. You really get the full experience of your food.
Updated Aug 22, 2005
The traditional placing palms together happens here too, but you’ll also see a modified salute—right hand held vertical at the center of the forehead—and fingers grouped together at the lips. This last when used as a greeting asks whether you have eaten, and is mostly used by someone who knows you well enough to ask after your well-being. It can also be an invitation to lunch, assuming you know the person pretty well.
Written Aug 20, 2005
That sums it up. Things happen when they happen. Guests for dinner at 8 might show up at 10 (and they’ll bring 10 friends, which is a different cultural tip). If someone says “two minutes,” it could mean 5–10 minutes, or it could mean 9 hours. A 15-minute task can take all day. Carry a book with you everywhere.
Written Aug 13, 2005
Madras is also a conservative city compared to the likes of Bombay and Delhi and so when you address people who are much more senior to you in age, do not use their first names. Its considered offensive there and you would be frowned upon.
Written Apr 4, 2004
When you are in Madras and if you want to go inside temples, be aware that you would be required to take your shoes/sandals off. Some temples require that MEN remove their shirts too. This is an age old custom and is not related to any security issues. Also, majority of the temples also would not allow cameras to be used.
Written Apr 4, 2004
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