I am staying in charmless but clean digs with lots of stray cats around. I ignored all medical advice and petted one and tried to make friends with the others by buying buttermilk and putting it out for them. the chief feature to recommend this hotel besides the kitties is that the staff is really nice! There is a clean, bustling veg restaurant just a step away. it has dawned on me rather late that the south indians scrupulously use only their right hands to eat, saving the left hand for hygienic activities. Although I have felt myself exempt from this, I realize that eating with both hands would be akin to an african tribal woman walking barebreasted on our streets – perfectly acceptable in her society, and just shocking to our sensibilities, even if we understand the reasons behind it. So I have adjusted, as I do not want to be thought a barbarian.
Although prices have risen since I was here last, things are still very cheap. most times less than a dollar (42 rupees) can get me home in an autorickshaw from wherever I am in the city. A breakfast of idli and coffee runs to 20 rupees (50 cents). idli, you say? yes, I am sad to say that I have been rendered paratha-less by south indian cuisine – they just don’t offer it! those of you who know me well know that stuffed paratha and coffee is my favorite breakfast. I have warmed up to idlis, and also today I met a new breakfast item, vada, which can only be described as a savory doughnut. Never met a doughnut I didn’t like. They also serve dosas as big as your head.
I have decided to go to Chennai and pursue the library cataloging project. Somehow I will feel more productive if I work on something concrete, where I can see a clear before and after picture. I think volunteering in a school or tribal village project would be more effective on a long-term basis – at least three months, say. Just not ready to give up my day job.