Back to India!

Trip Start Apr 30, 2006
Trip End Mar 25, 2007

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Flag of India  ,
Friday, December 1, 2006

If the United States is the melting pot of the west, India would undoubtedly be the melting pot of the east... and this pot was heated up much earlier than 1776.  Historically, if one wanted to go from Africa or the Middle-East to Asia, he would go through India.  If Asians wanted to do the reverse, India would be a portion of the trek.  Some of those who wanted to do the journey saw the mighty Himalayas and said "India ain't so bad" (not wanting to hike the huge mountain range)... they stayed.  People from these groups, of course, remained on the Indian subcontinent.  In addition, India has vast natural resources and coastal access making it a popular military conquest. 
What does all of this equate to?  1.1 billion people; 10 major religions (worshipping 330,000,000 deities (yes, 330 MILLION); 1,600 languages; 4 varnas (castes) with thousands of jatis (sub-castes) - which you are born into.  All of this, plus the "normal" social strata (such as income, education, occupation...)... put it together, add 3 shakes of colonial rule and you have (to put it mildly) an extremely multi-dimensional society.  
Before going back to southern India we often heard "The south is sooo much different than the north."  Well, this IS true.. but is true in a sarcastic "no shit" sort of way.  It is like saying a turnip and a fish are different.  They are different, but so is an apple and a fish.  What we are saying is that, "yes," south India is different from the north; but not to a higher degree than how Kashmir is different than Delhi; which is different from Punjab; which is different from Himashal Pradesh (which are all located in the north).  If you travel for 3 hours by train, from any point in India you are bound to see different deities being worshiped; different pilgrimages; hear different languages and experience, in general, a different culture.  And that's what makes India so great! 
This log centers around Tamil Nadu; where everyone speaks Tamil, where there is an elephant giving blessings at every temple and men wear skirts (sarongs).  We visited many temples, many beaches and battled for train seats with pilgrims (and lost). Enjoy!
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peteandmandy on

And then.....
What happened to you guys? What happened next? You can't leave me hanging like this.


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