Thursday, July 28, 2006, 6:04 PM – Chennai
The tiredness has really caught up to me now. I faded during the first afternoon session, although calling it the first afternoon session is a bit off because the morning sessions went very long. One of the honored guests was quite late and we waited for him to start. Gloria presented a “felicitation” during the opening sessions. I asked her what a felicitation was and she said she didn’t know but the coordinator of the conference said “just say nice things” so she did. It was nice. Anyway I just about fell asleep during the first afternoon session so I took a break, came back to my room and lay down. The air conditioning here in the hotel makes all the conditioned rooms very cold. The hallways aren’t conditioned so they’re hot and humid. Nice contrast. My glasses get steamed up a lot.
They serve tea and coffee here a lot but mostly tea that is unlike any other tea I have ever had. It is served with a mix of cream and it has a weird taste to it. Strange stuff. The food in general is really really spicy and I just finally gave up at lunch and came and got a granola bar out of my luggage. I am generally OK with spicy things but this is over the top and after a couple of meals of it I finally just had enough.
The good news is that I’m having an easier time today with the Indian accents than I did yesterday. The bad news is that it often isn’t enough of an improvement to make a difference. I think it depends on the region the people are from. Some I find very easy to understand. It also doesn’t help that most of the small talk is around the “where are you from” stuff that inevitably includes the names of places I don’t know. I do a lot of nodding and smiling.
We’re concerned that our flight back has been cancelled. It hasn’t flown the last two days so we’re suspicious. We have a plan to get to Paris by way of Mumbai which we are prepared to press Delta to enact but, when we called them, they said “your flight will go as scheduled” so we’re leaving here for the airport earlier than expected on Saturday so that if they say “oops” when we show up we can take the earlier flight to Mumbai. We lost our day of touring Chennai because they cancelled our flight here – we don’t want to lose our day in Paris too. Unfortunately, that means additional time camped out in the airport.