Our city: Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Our country: India
Our timezone: New Delhi (GMT +5)
Our longitude is: 13° 09'
Our latiude is: 80° 27'
We wear these clothes: The clothing of India is colorful and diverse, and it varies according to region and religion. It includes beautiful silk work and cotton work with embroidery on it, however in South India (and our very own Chennai), is known for this, as well as wearing vibrant colors compared to the North. South India evolves their attire mostly from the temples, which have Dravidian style architectural sculptures on the walls where the celebration of the body is reflected in the form of paintings, or brass castings. South India is filled so beautifully with numerous different costumes quite beautifully clad on their men and adding more intricacy to the delicacy of its women.
Chennai is particularly known for the Kanjivaram Saris in all different colors worn by women. Like many other saris, typically 8 meters in length, with a blouse, and an inner-skirt, but the Kanjivaram has more than just that to it. It is silk cloth made in the city of Kanjivaram that used to have plain designs in bright colors and borders, or checkered work, but to keep up with the latest fashion, our Kanjivaram saris are made with Stone work, and Mirror work.
The Dhoti is one example of men's clothing. It is a typical Chennai man's wear, is cotton cloth wrapped around the waist usually worn along with a shirt. This for a man is so creative and practical for their fishing or farming. The half saris or pavadai (a skirt just below the knee worn with a blouse) on the young girls catch admiration of their grace and femininity. To add to their beauty, the best part of the Indian outfit - the bangles, the dangling earrings and anklets. However, as India is moving towards the Western culture, jeans and shirts have also gained an amazing amount of popularity down South. In short we are a well-balanced potpourri.
We eat these foods: Never has any food reached emotion the way, Indian, no South Indian, no Tamil food has. It is a food made from all that can be found in our plentiful land. Made with rice (and other cereal crops), vegetables, dairy products, and a great variety of spices, our food can never be boring.
Like any other cuisine, there is a great variety of dishes. Most common are dishes such as idlis or dosais with sambar(thick cooked spiced vegetable broth) or rasam (clear spiced vegetable soup) An idli is a flattened down sphere of a rice cake, while a dosa is a slightly fried rice pancake. There is also pooriyal and many varieties of cooked rice. Pooriyal is a steamed spiced combination of any set of vegetables. Few examples of the different rice are tamarind rice and lemon rice. Both of which are what their names say. Otherwise, you can have thaiyir sadam, rice with yogurt, or sambar sadam (rice and sambar), or rasam sadam (rice and rasam). There is no real end to the number of combinations possible with our food.
Don't forget the desserts. We have payasam, a thin sweet liquid, made of small slender noodles helped with milk and sugar. We also have mysurpa, which is a filling cake of ghee (processed butter, the Indian way), gram flour, and sugar. Ghee is liberally added to all aspects of our food, but it stands out in sweet dishes. Finally, the drinks: we have buttermilk (liquid part of unprocessed yogurt, spiced to perfection). Payasam and rasam can be drunk on their own too. This is only the tip of the iceberg though, as we have only so much room to talk of our food.
All in all, our people have managed to perfect a cuisine against a tropical climate, without refrigerators. Where normally bread would rot, there are idlis, then dosais, then uthappams and so on, in their various stages of fermentation. Fermentation is an integral part of our cuisine. We have used our climate to make our food, not just pots and pans. Also, we never serve any food without a liberal addition of salt, and pepper and many many many other spices of which we have no shortage. In the end, this food is more close to art than anything.
We grow these foods: India is the home for great many vegetables, fruits and many more important food crops that Indian people rely on for survival. Tasty and nutritious fruits like mango, coconuts and bananas are grown here. Chennai is surrounded with rice paddies, so rice is something that the Indian people eat everyday. About two hours from Chennai, just by the road, in squares the sea water is trapped and salt is extracted from the water. Fresh water is collected from rainfall. Many Indians are vegetarian, mostly for religious reasons; therefore their diet primarily consists of vegetables like onions, tomatoes, and okra. Spices such as chili are sometimes used in dishes and to salty foods they might even add brown sugar, for example with potatoes.
We practice these religions: India is home not only to four of the world's oldest religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism - but also to other widespread religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All have had a profound impact on the Indian culture. The ones that currently have some of the largest communities in Chennai are Hinduism, Jainism, and Christianity.
The population of Chennai is mostly Hindu (80%), and is subsequently divided into different sects. There is no one god in Hinduism, nor is there one way to practice or worship, but they are all united by common belief in one Supreme Being, whether it be Vishnu, Siva, Krishna, or another god. The four principle denominations of Hinduism: Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and Smartism, have strong presences in the city.
Apart from Hinduism, there are also followers of Jainism. The Jains believe in 'jivan', which is not a god, but is the divine soul. Tamil Jains are a small sect, which make up most of the Jain community in Chennai.
Christianity appeared in Chennai around the year 52 A.D. with the arrival of St. Thomas the Apostle. Here, he preached, and was martyred. Today, there is a large Christian minority, along with the St. Thomas Cathedral, which is built upon the tomb of St. Thomas.
We speak these languages: India has 800 different languages and 23 of them are official. Tamil is the language spoken in our state of Tamil Nadu. It's a loud language with its own alphabet of 254 letters. Most of the people speak some English in heritage of the old British colonization. It helps them to find work. Some people also speak Hindi, which is one of the official national language of India. Chennai also has many other languages such as Finnish, German, Swedish, and French especially in Pondicherry, two hours south of Chennai. People from all over the world come to work here as our presence here, in the American International School of Chennai proves.
These animals live in our area: India is home to a variety of animals, small and large alike. A few of the more commonly seen animals are the wild dogs which literally roam the streets. You can find cows and water buffalo anywhere, even on the street whether they are grazing, lounging in the Bay of Bengal, or being led to pasture. Normally cows and oxen are used to pull heavy loads and walk (or trot) alongside cars in the bustling streets of Chennai, as well as other Indian cities. Accompanied with the large bovine are the goats which are also herded in the streets, but if you were to ever see them standing together with a herder, then they are being sent to be slaughtered. Few pigs and cats live in the city of Chennai except in the villages around the mountain area. And like the wild dogs, 'wild' chickens wander around the sides of the streets pecking at any small morsel they can find.
The vibrantly colored peacock is not only admired for its magnificent feathers, but it is also the national bird of India and is traditional seen in bird sanctuaries to preserve the species. Speaking of sanctuaries, if you would want to see an Indian elephant, a sanctuary would be the best place to go. These sacred animals are used not to carry loads, but are used for religious purposes and events across the country, especially rural areas around Chennai. Within its vast open countryside and even in the narrow streets roads, you can find several animals in Chennai that you would not see anywhere else. Yet one of the strangest things about Chennai, is that most of the animals you would normally see on farmlands in the states, you can find in the city!
These industries support our local economy: In the past couple of years, Chennai's industries have expanded greatly especially their biggest industries, the IT sector, agriculture, textiles, petrochemicals, and other small industries. This economic and industrial growth has promoted foreign businesses to come and invest in Chennai, such as Nokia, Siemens, an Hyundai, bringing wealth into the middle and upper classes of Chennai, but leaving the farmers not much better off than they would be. These businesses bring in many foreigners to come here which have contributed to the large growth of our school from about 250 students in 2004 to almost 400 students two years later. So the stability of the economy is relatively good, because it is growing rapidly and it has many industries, and it attracts investors to pool in money to help in the development in technology in India. It will be interesting how far the industrial growth will shape and transform Chennai in the future.
We use these types of transportation: Rickshaws whiz by, motorcycles weave through, incessant verbal road-rage and lop-sided buses move to the rhythm of the crowded streets of Chennai. Families of five cram on to a two-wheeler, two-seater, two hundred pound capacity scooter and the constant honking of impatience all add to the vivid flavor of this southern Indian city. Though the streets may always seem like a party, the pollution, on the other hand, is a growing threat to many. With over 25,000 motorcycles being sold every day, the everlasting construction of roads and the growing population, the city seems to be shrinking by the second; yet humans are humans and consequences will only be realized years later. Whatever the situation may be, this never stops the locals from getting where they need to be for determination is a strong force that this city thrives upon. In a place that never sleeps, it's a pure wonder watching how the lack of organization, noise, pollution and impatience work hand in hand to keep Chennai moving.