Breeanne and I are now in Chennai, India. We have met such wonderful people. They are warm and caring. While we have met with many women for our research and gotten to know their professional habits and aspirations well, we have also seen many people on the streets who are curious and helpful.
The traffic here is chaotic, and it is hard to cross the major streets. At one point, Breeanne crossed but I got stuck on the other side. I waited for a man to start walking through the traffic, and I followed him. He noticed and gestured to me to follow and keep up. He smiled. It was kind. At another point, we were both having trouble finding an opening to cross the street, so an older man walked out into traffic and stopped cars, auto rickshaws, and motorcycles for us.
There have also been many friendly people. Chennai is not a tourist town, so they are not used to seeing many Westerners. We have been stared at, waved at, and called to. It seems that most of them want to practice their English, so they call out, “Hello! How are you?” We smile and wave and return the greeting. One tiny older woman, dressed in a beautiful emerald green sari, stopped when she saw us. She stared as Breeanne walked past her. She stared as I walked past her. I smiled and waved. She smiled and continued staring long after we had passed. I wonder if we were the first Westerners she had ever seen.
We also visited Marina Beach on the Bay of Bengal, which is close to our hotel. We took an auto rickshaw there and walked back. Honestly, the city is dirty and smelly, as the sanitation is not very organized. However, it is also vibrant and colorful. The beach was full of litter, but we also saw hermit crabs, fishermen and their colorful boats, and even a man masturbating at us as we walked by! We are trying to forget that encounter. Most of our encounters have been friendly.
On our walk back to the hotel, we saw this river. We couldn’t believe how polluted it was and how there were people living in such conditions.
We are enjoying ourselves. We are hot and tired. We are moved by the pitiful and redeeming aspects of humanity. We are invigorated by the experiences.