Monday, February 22, 2010

Chennai: Day 3

January 22, 2010

Our last day in Chennai and ultimately India was a free day where we could do pretty much whatever we wanted. But before that, I saved some pictures from the previous entry!

There were four more locations that we visited that I took a picture of on the 21st:

This was a Christian school that we just walked around in. There were kids swarming around EVERYWHERE on their recess or something...kinda intense.

We also visited an Armenian church.

This was just a random church we passed on our way to...

The law college, which...

...had some pretty cool architecture!

For our free day a group of us went shopping for souvenirs for people from home, went to the beach, found a street bazaar to do some more shopping in, and then went back to the hotel.

They didn't want kids playing cricket at the beach I guess.

Some pretty neat fishing boats we walked by at the beach.

I just had to take a pic of this ad-look at how sweet superman looks in that uniform! lol

And with our free day in Chennai, our time in India came to a close. Tomorrow: a wrap-up blog post that will aim to 1) sum up a bit about India 2) complete the story and bridge the gap between January 23rd and February 23rd and 3) transition into a blog that I use to recap a bit about what's going on in the present!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chennai: Day 2

January 21, 2010

We're coming up on the end of the blog project! Our penultimate day in India was spent doing some last minute sightseeing. By this point I wasn't taking too many pictures, so I've got fewer ones for this post.

Ft. Saint George was where we started out the day. It was always interesting seeing the British architecture interspersed in brief glimpses in between all the Indian, Mughal, and other styles of architecture we were constantly surrounded by.

Used to be a fort: still has cannons. Makes sense, right?

A little model of what the fort used to look like.

A pretty old Bible. SO cool!

These traffic signs were hilarious!

Doesn't get much simpler than this!

I'm in for some excitement...let me get my keys and my phone and we'll be off! lol

The cheap alternative to barbed wire: broken glass.

This was the church at the fort. It's the oldest Christian church east of some famous and important geographical boundary...I think it might be the Bay of Bengal but can't remember for sure.

Some cool stairs up to the entrance.

This is John 3:16 in Tamil :)

We also visited a rather disappointing museum (most of the exhibits were closed) and a building that serves as a law college now, but i saved the pictures of the law school for the next entry: otherwise there wouldn't be that many!

Tomorrow: the last day in India before heading home!!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Madurai to Chennai

January 20, 2010

We left our hotel at 6:45 in the morning for the airport and lifted off the runway at 8:40. We picked Grayson up at the hotel when we got back-he was feeling much better-and then drove to Madras Christian College. It was amazing getting to talk to some of the professors and students there about what it's like to be a Christian in a country where the party in power, the BDP, actively persecutes and oppresses Christians...the faith that was evident in these believers was inspiring and encouraging.

After going to MCC we visited two sites that are associated with the Apostle Thomas, who is supposed to have come to India in about 52 A.D. and ministered for twenty years before dying in 72 A.D.

There he is: Thomas himself. The first site was where Thomas died, fleeing those who wished and ultimately did him harm.

It was cool to see scripture prominently displayed on signs on the road up to the mountain. The other language aside from English is Tamil.

One thing i forgot to say: all the parks and historical sites that we visited were really popular places for couples to go on dates. This sign is proof that it had become a bit of a problem or something at this particular spot.

The last supper!

The inside of the church itself. It was really neat to sit here and pray where so many others had prayed before...that sense of history and generations upon generations of people following Christ isn't something we get a lot of exposure to in America, so it was great to experience some of it. As I was praying I found myself repeatedly praying, "God, give me faith like Thomas"...I'm still kinda wrestling with WHY I was praying that, but I think it's not so much "give me a weak faith" but more of "give me faith because without you ALL of us are like Thomas was before you showed yourself to him: unable to believe. so give me the faith that I could never have on my own"

Me with Chennai in the background.

The elephants flanking the entrance really added to the sense of hybridity.

This was the second site we visited-where Thomas is supposed to have actually lived.

The chapel on the left is built over the entrance to his little cave.

The story goes that when his attackers came for him, Thomas prayed to God and God opened an escape route through the back of the cave-this is that little crack he crawled out of.

The indents on the rock are where Thomas' elbows and arms rested while he prayed while he lived here.

This is the view of the entrance into the cave from the church-kinda a tight squeeze.

An elevated statue of Jesus.

Out back they had these huge, life-size stations of the cross that were at once kinda cool and also a bit creepy.

A copy of one of those rather famous european sculptures (La Pieta by Michelangelo?)

The elevated Jesus statue in context with the buildings around it.

Thomas is supposed to have carved a cross out of the rock here that he carried around with him.

This spring is said to have sprung up to satisfy Thomas' thirst and is believed to have magic curative powers. Norbert drank some haha

More of the semi-creepy statues out back.

Thomas and Jesus.

It was really comforting to be surrounded by believers and Christian sites the whole first day we were back in Chennai. Before we had lunch at MCC the provost prayed and blessed the meal-I hadn't realized just how much public/group prayer had been a regular occurrence in my life before missing it for over two weeks. But it was definitely encouraging to see believers in this part of the world and get to see some sites associated with someone who knew Jesus pretty intimately for three years and whose life was changed by him. I mean, you don't just go to India to tell people about some dead guy you knew...

Anyways, definitely another highlight of the trip: seeing the faith of these brothers and sisters halfway around the world!

Tomorrow: Our second-to-last day in India! A few last sights and sounds! More of Chennai!

Madurai: Day 2

January 19, 2010

Madurai was the site of one of the most impressive temple complexes of the trip. I mean, they were impressive enough for us to fly down to madurai just to see them basically! How ridiculous was this complex? Well this was what the gate looked like:

That's right: the GATE looked like this! I mean, that's more impressive than most sights by themselves. The color just jumps off the building too!

An elephant statue by the front.

There were four entrances to the complex-north, south, etc. Here are two of them.

If you thought previous sites were impressive in the level of detail that they had...well we did too. Until Madurai of course!

I mean, just LOOK at this! The figures and colors and everything...just completely amazing.

Another of the water shrines in the middle of the temple-this one was HUGE though.

The roofs inside were painted riotously.

And the floors got their fair treatment too!

This is Ganesh. Although it wasn't a temple dedicated solely to him, there were still worshipers who honored him there.

Shiva-the big kahuna. This statue was very imposing in person-I still kinda stop whenever I look at this picture...

again, the COLORS! legen-wait for it-DARY.

One of the cool things about this temple was we all got blessed by this elephant! What that entails is you walking up to the elephant, handing it a rupee (their trunks are prehensile so they just grab it from you), and then the elephant resting its trunk on your head. I took a video of the elephant blessing Adam-it seemed to like him lol

So sweet.

They had a museum that, overall, was pretty disappointing. It had some cool statues though.

This was my favorite.

I just couldn't get over this gate! lol

This is the view as you walk up or leave the temple-just kinda rises up from the street.

The guy at the restaurant we ate at wanted a picture with our professors haha

Our next stop was a Mughal palace that was designed with the help of a European architect. It was cool seeing a fusion of the two types of architecture.

Switching to Tokien/Peter Jackson references now: "Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east" was what this set of windows reminded me of (especially the visual as Aragorn is remembering Gandalf say it).


These archways (as columns and hallways were prone to do) caught my eye.

I don't know if there was stained glass in these windows or what, but it was beautiful.

We went back to the hotel for dinner and I finally had something that i'd seen on the menu for basically the whole trip but never tried: Chicken Lollipop

Which is just what it sounds like-chicken pieces that are made to look like little lollipops with a sweet dipping sauce. It was actually quite good :)

This was the view from the restaurant (which was on the roof of our hotel). The lit up buildings in the distance are the temples from the earlier pictures.

In my quiet time during the evening I read about half of Revelation. I'd been going through it a chapter a day but something just came over me and I just kept reading till the end haha.

With our time in Madurai done, it was back to Chennai. Tomorrow: Chennai! we pick Grayson back up! Madras Christian College!