DSC_1663One day we went for an excursion to Dakshinachitra, a small picturesque tourist village outside Chennai. They had built replication of typical houses from the different South Indian provinces. It was like a living museum, and almost everything I learnt here was new to me.

In the picture above you can see some very traditional decorations made of palm leaves. Below is a mini version of the very typical Tamil Pongal festival, the local harvest festival.

DSC_1660While entering the houses in Tamil Nadu style I tried to imagine A’s ancestors living in these kinds of places. On hot days they must have been sitting on the stone porch outside the entrance, or swinging on the huge swing somewhere inside.

DSC_1665DSC_1677DSC_1689DSC_1687To take extra care of my sensitive stomach we were not eating outside food, instead auntie had packed and brought a delicious homemade meal. It is just as tasty as it looks! DSC_1735Weaving of a traditional south Indian saree:DSC_1740DSC_1700DSC_1920 It was late afternoon when we left the museum. We were in mood for afternoon coffee and I had something very beautiful on my hands, but more about that later.

If you are interested in visiting Dakshinachitra you can check out their page here.


Newbie on being in India

DSC_1534The first days in India there was so much to get used to. As we were staying with A’s family I immediately found myself being immersed into the Indian culture. And no matter how much I had been reading before the trip – many things still made me feel clueless.  I tried my best to look at what the others where doing and copy them.

The first thing I had to learn was to eat with my hands. It is not hard at all, it is actually the most intuitive way of eating at all, if you think about it. But still it didn’t come naturally to me.

For a moment I felt like everyone was watching me, and I was staring at the big pile of Vada on my plate. As a guest I was supposed to dig in first. But how to dig in with my hands? Should I lift up the whole piece and bit a mouthful? Or take piece by piece and put into my mouth? Vadas looks almost like donuts and it should be an easy thing to eat for a beginner, but I felt like I just didn’t know where to start.

After a short embarrassing moment A started eating on his plate, and after watching him I dared to lift up one Vada too. As I dared to try I realised how very easy it is to eat with your hands. It is actually quite fun!

I also needed instructions about how to use the shower and the toilet. Quite hilarious when you think of it – even an Indian three-year-old know how to do these things.

The Indian shopping experience

There are a lot of does and don’t if you visit India as a foreign woman, especially when it comes to wearables. In India you should wearing something that is both lose and covering, and hopefully something that helps your body to stay cool. And I had few, it any, suitable pieces in my wardrobe.

So it was obviously time to get some authentic Indian outfits! One of the very first days in India auntie and sis took me to one of their favourite places for shopping.

DSC_1460As we entered the small shop the three of us sat down on small plastic chairs. The seller asked about preferences and started to pull out one colourful dress after the other. As soon as our eyes had fallen on one piece he would see our reaction and immediately show us the next.

This store was specialized in selling thing tunics, called kurtas, and he had them in all possible materials, styles and patterns. He spread them out over the big counter, one by one, until we had a decimeter high mountain of textiles in front of us.

DSC_1447It was hard to choose as it was almost too many possible alternatives and colours. And when we were done chosing we just came to the next challenge: to decide which type of pants they would go with.

The best thing with the evening was that it was so much fun to choose the things together, all the three of us. The three ladies shopping together: such a good time for bonding!

DSC_1473Kurta with oversized punjabi-style pants.

The next morning I woke up with an excited feeling of anticipation. I felt almost like I did as a child in Christmas time: “Today I can wear my new clothes!”

During the following weeks in India I was so happy for these outfits. I can’t imagine anything else being more comfortable, beautiful and suitable to travel in.