My last days in Madurai, India
This week marked my last week in Madurai, India, where I’ve been located for the past four months. Although I’ve had a lot of incredible experiences throughout my time in Madurai, I’m both sad and happy to leave the city. Read on to learn about some of my last adventures in Madurai.
This week was my last week with my study abroad program. I had to say goodbye to my host family, to some of my friends, and to the city of Madurai. In the coming weeks, I will be traveling to northern India. I then fly back to Chennai and then back home to the United States. I will be home on May 13th.
Local Time: 9:36am
Time Zone: India Standard Time
Location (Latitude, Longitude): 9.9300° N, 78.1200° E
How far have I traveled on my journey so far?
We have taken short trips to other parts of India, but for the most part stayed in Madurai, India for four months. The distance between New York City and Madurai is 8,500 miles.
How did I get around this week?
I took a lot of auto-rickshaws (“autos” as we call them here) this week because my bicycle was broken. These small, yellow, three-wheeled taxis are available everywhere in Madurai and are cheap to ride. I usually pay about a dollar to ride the auto-rickshaw for 10 minutes from my house to my study abroad program’s center.
What was the most interesting place I visited this week?
I visited a place called Pudhu Mandapam which is near the temple that Madurai is most famous for called Meenaskhi Temple. Pudhu Mandapam is an area filled with vendors selling all sorts of brightly colored items. In Pudhu Mandapam I saw embroidered bags, scarves, jewelry, locks and chains, toys, fruit and colored powder that people use as a part of worship in the Hindu religion.
Have you ever gotten your fortune told? This week I got my fortune told by a parrot! A man laid out cards and the parrot grabbed one in its break. The man then proceeded to interpret the meaning of the card. Apparently, my fortune is that I am “very very lucky.”
Other travel news:
This week I finished my semester-long research project that took place here in Madurai. For this project, I had to interview 12 people and write a 25-page paper, as well as give a presentation. For my project, I was determining to what extent college aged students in Madurai knew about dengue fever and malaria. Dengue fever and malaria are two diseases in India (and other tropical regions) that one can get if one is bitten by an infected mosquito. I was also investigating to what extent middle schools and high schools in Madurai teach their students about these diseases.
Partly cloudy: 4
What is the air temperature right now? 91 degrees Fahrenheit
How was the weather this week?
It was less hot than it’s been recently. For the past few weeks, the lowest temperatures have been in the 90’s and the highest temperatures have reached 106 or 107 degrees Fahrenheit. We had more partly cloudy days than we normally do.
What animals did I see this week?
I did not see any animals that were out of the ordinary. I saw the same stray dogs, plump cattle and scraggly goats that always populate the streets in Madurai. In fact, we got stuck behind a cow and my auto-rickshaw driver had to honk the horn a lot to get the cow to move!
What was the coolest thing I saw in nature this week?
I saw a botanical garden. Although all of the garden was man-made, it still had beautiful plants and some flowers. In general, the botanical gardens I’ve seen in India are not very spectacular compared to ones one might see in the United States. I think this is because the places I have visited in India so far have a hot and dry climate and a scarcity of water, so nothing really looks green.
Other Nature News:
Spring is not very evident in Madurai. There aren’t more flowers than any other time of the year, like the blooms in the United States. The weather feels more like summer than anything else. In fact, local people say that Madurai has two seasons: the monsoon season and the non-monsoon season. The monsoon season is supposed to occur from about July to September. However, for the past two years, Madurai has not received the rain it usually gets during that time. Thus, the area is in a huge drought.
What languages are spoken here?
Tamil is spoken in Madurai and is the official language of Tamil Nadu, which is the state of India that Madurai is located in. Telugu is also a popular language, and is the language my host family speaks at home.
What type of money is used here?
The Indian rupee is used. About 50 Indian rupees equal one dollar.
How much does a bottle of water cost?
A small bottle of water costs 20 rupees. A large bottle of water costs 30 rupees.
What was the best meal this week?
I had momos, which are the south Asian version of dumplings. I had potato-cheese momos, vegetable momos, and chicken momos. They can be served steamed or fried.
What music did I listen to this week?
The only music I listened to this week was the Indian music that is sometimes blared on the streets, especially near temples or as part of a celebration. The music is generally so loud that when I pass by speakers that are blaring it, I have to cover my ears.
What activity was the most fun this week?
I learned how to dress myself in a sari this week! A sari is the traditional clothing that women wear in India. It is one long piece of cloth that is wrapped around the body and pinned.
What did I read this week?
I finished The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. This is a classic that my friends have been telling me to read for a long time, so I’m glad I finally did.
Other news from this week:
Saying goodbye to the city I’ve spent four months in was hard, though I look forward to the rest of my time in other parts of India. I hope to stay in touch with my host family by email. They want me to come back and visit them in the future, and I really hope that I get to. Tonight I board a night train to Chennai, where I will start the last part of my experience in India.