Chennai Culture

P1030397 Wandering through the madness that is a Chennai thoroughfare last week I spotted an oasis of peace  – a Temple. There are little shrines on the streets, which people do use to acknowledge their spiritual leaders, but this was a beautiful temple, right beside a busy intersection – one where you really do take your life into your hands to get across without being run over by a Tuk-tuk (three wheeled motorbike which acts as a small open-air taxi), motorbike or car etc). As it was told to me “The only rule is that there are no rules!” 

P1030400 That brings me to the culture which is present in India. I was at another centre for a few days last week. Here is my normal padded cell – yes I spend from 10 – 6 most days looking at this view – luxuriating in the sounds of an electronic keyboard much of the time. However at this academy, where I was it is a different story. It is a three story house, with marble floors and the top floor of which is a concert hall! – with its own lift. I was in a room – all in white and with its own very small shrine in the corner. I do not know which god(dess) the shrine was for, but I pity anybody that had to put up with that piano for any longer. When played louder, it merely sounded more twangy and out of tune!

P1030407

P1030416 At the end of the week, we were all taken out to a South Indian Feast. The places was absolutely gorgeous, beribboned with coloured cloths and overhead coverings.

The colours are wonderful here. Even young girls dress with colour-coordinated clothes – dress, tunic, earrings, hair ribbons, bangles and necklaces.

The paintings outside the restaurant were simply breathtaking. I wanted to pick one up and take it home! An Indian artist of course – probably not known outside India…and with all the people living here, well there is not really any need.

P1030414 On one side of the restaurant were three ladies who busied themselves all night making the appetisers that kept coming until you had enough of them – being South Indian , mostly vegetarian, which seems to suit my palate at the moment. By the time we had decided to move on to the main course, I had already had enough – a little chilli can go a long way!!!…..

We were also treated to some wine!! – Chateau Neuf du Pape, 2004!!! I hate to think how expensive that was.

P1030418 A very nice meal. I enjoyed every bit of the (vegetarian) food from this plate and then of course found some very nice desserts as well. Indian desserts are sweet and sinful – so that suits me just fine!!

However it is a real eye-opener to see the Indian culture. In Chennai they do not look outside for their fashions etc. I would think that about the half or more of the women I see are wearing saris.

The film industry of course is a burgeoning industry, but Bollywood is only a small part of that. The Tamil Nadu films are every bit as popular here and the stars are feted wherever they go. Women’s parts in the films are still rather ornamental, though that is very slowly beginning to change.

When you think about it, the Hindu/Buddhist religions have inspired the least amount of conflict – maybe because they are inherently so peaceful and tied up with the self, rather than trying to convert others to their way of thinking. So many people here will happily spend the whole day (or weekend) at the temple. It is really their way of life.

The Indian culture is a very proud culture, full of traditions and if they have included the Portuguese, French and English cultures into their own culture, they have retained their own traditions.

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About David Adlam

I am a conductor, composer, clarinettist and examiner for Trinity Guildhall working in Auckland, New Zealand and overseas
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