Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The beautiful south

I'm in Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram and have just arrived from Chennai, or Madras. It all depends on who you speak to, or which signs you take notice of.

Whatever the case, the south is a different country.

Mamallapuram is a small village about two hours' drive from India's fourth biggest city. It's a beautiful location, the site of many rock carvings and a couple of extraordinary temples dating from the seventh century. The golden beach is wide and long, and overlooks the Bay of Bengal.
The village sleeps and wakes to the gentle tapping sound of chisel against granite; the sculptors here are known across the world and stalls line the streets advertising their wares. Thousands of statues of every size and shape are lined up for inspection. A garganutan Ganesh reclines next to a eight-foot Shiva behind which peacefully gazes a serene Buddha, and the sculptors are happy for you to sit and stare in amazement as they go about their daily business.

I've come to Mammallapuram with good intentions.

I've checked into my hotel which will be home for the next couple of months. At present I am the only guest, and so have the place to myself. My spacious room sits on the second floor - big double bed, desk with a bookshelf (already full), a very large and very clean bathroom. The outside balcony is enormous and, if I stand on my toes, I can just spot the sea.

I'm now dividing my time between the school and orphanage, helping out where I can and, for the first time in a while, experiencing culture shock. It's going to be huge learning curve, but with countless smiling faces that surround me, I'm settling in quite nicely.

So I'm going to take my leave, and won't be updating the website for some time.

I'm feeling very content, and very relaxed.

See you in a while.

James x

No comments: