Dad and I taking a closer look at the Gandhi Statue
__     We finally made the difficult decision to leave Auroville and travel to a city further south called Madurai.  Auroville served a valuable purpose in that it allowed us to recharge from our experience with "Teacher Ali" in Mamallapuram (see previous blog entry) and enjoy Christmas while away from home.  We hopped on a state bus and arrived in Madurai eight bumpy hours later.    
     The first thing we did was head to the massive Sri Meenakshi Temple in the centre of city.  The Temple has four huge towers at four main entrances.  We entered through the east entrance.  We had to take off our shoes and go through a security check.  It was a strange protocol.  It was cool knowing that we were walking in one of the biggest temples in India.  I liked the painted murals of lotus flowers on the ceiling.  Each lotus painting was completely different and there were at least a hundred painted along the ceilings of the corridors.  A bunch of young guys kept saying "Hi!" to me and wanted to shake my hand (just because I am white, I think).  After that we . . .

Allegra and I looking at the chaos below from our roof top viewpoint
_headed back to the hotel and Dad and I set off to the train station and tried to book a train ticket into Kerala.  We spent at least an hour waiting in three or four different lines.  When we got to the end of the first line the employee would direct us to a different line.  This happened a couple of times until we got to the train supervisor and he told us  that we need to book a train at least a week in advance, not the day before.  We left the train station empty handed but had lunch at a great stand where they made samosas and chai tea.  It was delicious.  We got back to the hotel and immediately left for the Gandhi Museum with Mom and Allegra before it closed for the day.  Again a lot of Indian people wanted to shake my hand which I still find very strange.  We learned about the history of India's struggle for Independence and why Gandhi played such an important role.  A  pivotal act that he did was to stop wearing British clothing and started to wear the traditional loin cloth that Indian men wore called a dhoti.  This symbolic gesture empowered the people. 
     Finally we ended the day by having dinner on a roof top restaurant that overlooked the city below!

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