India is really an interesting country; there is so much to see, to hear, to smell and taste... And it truly is a diverse culture. For those who are not aware, there are 22 official languages spoken in India. The primary language in Chennai is Tamil Nadu, although as our friend and contact Lorraine indicated, the primary language of India is Hindi. Lorraine indicated that she only spoke 11 of the 22 languages!!! I guess being bilingual just doesn't cut it here. Interestingly enough, Sanskrit, which is probably one of the oldest recorder languages (3500 years), is the basis for every Indian language, which probably explains how one could possibly speak 11 languages.
We took some time to visit our partners today, and view their training facilities; let me tell you that the drive was a real blast, and really is not for the faint of heart. I counted no less than 20 really close calls, and maybe 30 times where we came within an inch of trucks, cars, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles and of course, the ever present autorickshaw:
The visit to the Training center, which is located in Velachery, was really a great experience. After a couple of hours, it was time to return to the hotel, and we experienced what is bound to be a fairly common occurence. An unfortunate motorcycle rider was hit by a bus that simply did not stop on an obviously red light. Since almost no riders wear helmets, and the impact was almost 30km/h, I can tell you that it was a pretty tough to watch. The funny part to this story is the traffic officer (which are stationned at every important intersection), running not to the injured motorcyclist, but rather to the bus driver, who he then suddenly clubbed into submission for his error. Lorraine indicated that there are deaths on a daily basis on the streets of Chennai, and I believe her.
Since I've only had about 4.5 hours of sleep today, I am going to hit the sack in a few minutes, but I wanted to get something up on the blog for today. I will take some time tomorrow to add more, as our hosts are planning a trip for us, to view the region known as Madurantakam.