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Chennai, India

Finding Family in Chennai

Chennai, India

There's no other place quite like India! So many people! Such great food! So much to do!

The first person I met was Neela. She's a movie producer! She told me that the dot on her forehead is called a bindi. It shows that she's married -- kind of like a wedding ring.

My friend Nandan showed me a family tree: a picture-list of his whole family. Then he showed me his REAL family, including his grandmother and grandfather! He calls them Patti and Thatha.

Patti was wearing a sari. That's one long piece of cloth you wrap around and around, so it becomes a dress. And Thatha wore a dhoti. It's kind of like a skirt. Many men wear them, especially in Southern India.

I had some cool fruit in India. Nandan had gooseberries growing in his backyard. They were sour, but pretty good. And I drank the water right out of a coconut! You just cut off the top and stick a straw in it. It's a drink in its own holder!

Binky emailed me to say he didn't believe gooseberries were real. He said what about chickenberries? Duckberries? Roosterberries? I told him he was being a Binkyberry! Then I was afraid I'd hurt his feelings. But he thought it funny. Phew!

I had something else to eat in India, too: dosas! Dosas are kind of like pancakes. But you don't put maple syrup on them. People eat them with sugar, butter, vegetables, or other side dishes.

Oh, yeah, and don't forget Chivda! It's a delicious snack food made from crispy rice, peanuts, raisins, and spices. Here's an easy chivda recipe you can make yourself.

Aditya is another friend I met in India. He learns FOUR languages in school: Tamil, Hindi, Sanskrit, and -- lucky for me -- English! Sanskrit is a really old language that's not used much in daily life, but Aditya speaks English, Hindi, and Tamil all the time.

I saw these kids playing soccer -- only they call it football. Do you know how they chose sides? Rock, paper, scissors -- just like we do! I had no idea that rock, paper, scissors was popular so far from Elwood City!

One girl who played football was Shruti. She also dances! She does a classical dance style called Bharatanatyam. Every little movement -- of her hands, her feet, even her eyes -- means something. It's really cool!

I learned about kolam from a girl named Amruta! Kolam are chalk drawings. You put them near your front door to welcome in the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. Hinduism is a popular religion in India.

When we had to go, I was sad to say goodbye to Chennai. I would much rather say Hi, Chennai!

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