Germany/India Trip

In April 1999, I went on an international business trip, primarily to visit with prospective partners in India. Along the way, I spent a couple of days in Germany with our European distributor. This was my first time back in Europe for several years, and my first time in Northern Germany. It was also my first time in India since I was fifteen, though we had travelled in India quite a bit when I was a child.

Hamburg

Click on the small pictures to see larger ones.

Harbor tugs.
Rathaus - Town Hall - from the Alster Arcade.
Baroque facade.
Binnen-Alster - the inner lake.

Chennai (Madras)

Chennia is the modern Tamil name for the city also known as Madras. It is on the south-eastern coast of India (the "Coromandel Coast", in the old romantic nomenclature). April is the hot season, and usually dry, although we got some rain, luckily. (Indeed I landed in the midst of quite a violent thunderstorm, enough to keep our 747 circling for an hour or so, observing the thunderbolts in the night sky, while our captain re-assured us there was plenty of fuel after the ten-hour flight from Frankfurt. My local contact was kind enough to meet me with a driver, staying up until 2am to do so.

Following is a selection of pictures, and I also have a fuller text report.

Click on the small pictures to see larger ones.

Some street scenes in Chennai.
Roadworks were prevalent, and working sidewalks almost none-existent. Traffic is very mixed: cars, motor-cycles, bicycles, "three-wheeler" scooter-taxis, even the random bullock cart.
Signs in English and Tamil, but not in the otherwise-prevalent Hindu script, as Tamil Nadu is quite proud of its distinct language and culture. An election was ongoing: "In April 1999, the AIADMK, the regional Tamil Nadu party led by Jayalalitha, withdrew its support from the government, denying the coalition its requisite majority in parliament." Jayalalitha, the subject of this and other posters, was a notorious local populist politician. Her house was in this district, actually a rather up-scale one.
More streets and political advertisements.
An enlargement, showing a peddler family more-or-less living on the street corner, with some drinks for sale.
A weekend trip to Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), about 50km south along the coast. This is a famous early temple-complex, dating mostly from the 7th and 8th centuries. (I used, and recommend, the Lonely Planet guide to South India.)
A religious procession, observed by a goat.
Trimurti Cave Temple. A nice big lingam, or phallic symbol, a symbol of Shiva.
A wider view of the cave temple, showing how it was cut right out of the "living" rock.
A view inland over the Kanheri Tank, with another little temple visible to the right. (A Ratha, or temple in the form of a chariot.)
Another view, a little to the North.
My guide, in another of the cave temples. (Or mandapam, a pillared pavilion.)
The Ganesh Ratha. Many of these temples are still in use. This one was originally devoted to Shiva, but is now dedicated to the elephant-god Ganesh.
The famous rock-carving known as Arjuna's Penance. There are various interpretations as to the meaning, but they relate to the origins of the sacred river Ganges. The whole panel is 12 meters high and 30 long!
A close-up, showing the wealth of detail.
The left side of the panel, with a real monkey clambering over what looks like a lion-hunting scene.
Inside the Krishna Mandapam, carved right into the rock, like the others.
A detail of the carving inside, probably a scene from the life of Krishna.
Present-day rock-carvers, making quite a cacophony!.
The Five Rathas. Up until two hundred years ago, these were hidden in the sand, and were then excavated by the British.
Inside the Shore Temple.
A pinnacle of the Shore Temple.
A colorful group of local visitors looks out over the beach and ocean. In the foreground, part of the alley of Nandis, or statues of Shiva's bull vehicle, that guard the temple.
On the way back, a wonderfully colored assortment of boats.
On the way back to town, I stopped at Dakshinachitra, "an architectural collage of South India", with relocated houses, and arts and crafts displays from the four southern states.
My guide, at a little temple.
The interior of a porch roof, lavishly carved in wood.
A band of carved-wood figures around a house. "Every animal different", it was claimed, and I can believe it.
A kolam, or traditional rice flour design placed at tresholds in Tamil Nadu. They have various symbolic purposes, and also the practical one of intercepting ants and other critters before they enter the house.
Back in town for some shopping.
The fabulous colors and textures of silk saris.
More sari silks.
Internet fever had hit India, too. (And get your ice-cream while you surf!)
My guest house:
The house had three bedrooms for guests, and a living room, dining room, and kitchen. The staff, a small family, slept on the floor in the kitchen and dining room.
The garden. The house got really stuffy when the power failed (as it did quite often), but going outside sometimes helped.
A coconut palm. At night, the bats liked flitting through the fronds.
Touring around town:
Boys playing cricket on the vast Marina Beach. It's 13km long, and the local guides say it's the longest in the world. And they warn about sharks...
A fishing village literally on the beach.
A boater and his hut. Note the Union Jack on the boat!.
Kapaleeshwarar Temple, an ancient Shiva temple. The entrance, with an elaborate polychrome gopuram, or tower. (The sari shop is right on this lane.)
An interior arcade of the temple. One must remove shoes at the entrance, and the stones and tiles are comfortably warm.
Some internal pavilions.
A detail of a gopuram, showing the wild polychrome carving.
Detail of the stonework.
A banyan tree in the Gundy National Park, at IIT Madras.
Another extensive banyan, a grove from a single tree!.
The last night, good-bye to the house-guy.

These pictures were scanned from 35mm negatives with an HP PhotoSmart scanner. I used a Canon EOS A2 and mostly a 28-70/2.8L lens.

schooler@alum.mit.edu