After months of eagerly waiting and planning, culminating in a very full day of traveling, we’re finally here in Chennai. We had a very early start to our first day, eating breakfast at our hotel, the New Woodlands, and heading out for a walking tour of Mylapore at 7:45 am. Our first taste of the city was exciting and confusing and intimidating, but it was impossible not to fall in love with this place by the end of it. Finally being drenched in the culture we had all been studying for months prior to our departure was exhausting and incredible, leaving us all eager to learn and explore even more of the city that will be our home and classroom for the next several days.
It’s still hard to believe that we’re actually in India for three weeks, even though we have been thoroughly immersed in Chennai over the past three days. We’ve experienced this culture through the eyes of several guest lecturers, attended a traditional Indian dance performance, and gorged ourselves on delicious new foods abounding in vibrant flavors.
This place is beautiful in the most chaotic and indescribable way. Everything about this city, from the architecture to the people who call it home is absolutely breathtaking. It’s this completely surreal and intangible feeling that engulfs you as you walk down the streets of Chennai, past unfinished buildings, cluttered shops, and innumerable places of worship. This beauty is something unrivaled by any other place I’ve visited and it feels completely bizarre and chaotic. Chennai is loud and dirty and gritty; issues of poverty and class difference are undeniable and highly visible everywhere you go. It is completely and entirely overwhelming in the most life changing way.