No Cuddling In Cuddlore

Aside: Darth Vadum has a fascinating link here.

Coded message for my Uganda co-voyagers: Business is good, though cash flow remains, um, fluid.

A link: Brother Hrab points us to a ridiculous story in Australia where a conservative lawmaker is concerned that abortion will create an entirely Muslim Australia!

Some announcements (Good news all):

  • As mentioned, I’ll be doing a book reading at Nehru University in New Delhi on Feb 28th. I’ll also be giving a workshop on research methods in international health at Queens University on March 4th.
  • I may give a talk on the epidemiology of TB in Massachusetts on March 24, though that is by no means confirmed.
  • A paper on childhood psychiatric epidemiology has been accepted for presentation in Trinidad in May! Whoohoo!

Back to the India travelogue…

In this edition of The Amazing Race, A. and Ray must travel to the town of Cuddlore in Tamil Nadu, some miles north of Pondicherry, and find a tsunami reconstruction project without a map, a name, a word of Tamil or a clue.

They arrive directionless at the Cuddlore bus station and, in a stroke of brilliance, ask a rickshaw to head to the beach, since that’s where the tsunami would have struck! There, they find remarkable scenic beaches stretching a couple of kilometres north-south, while local fisherman cower beneath a tarpaulin tent to fix their nets. Nearby, there is a semi-constructed building with the words, “Tsunami Reconstruction Office” emblazoned upon it. Clearly A. and Ray are too early… or too late?

They are directed, after much hand-waving, to a Hindi speaker nearby. He is the manager of the construction project, sent by the government of Rajasthan to help rebuild Cuddlore. It seems, though, that he doesn’t speak a word of Tamil, either, yet he is mandated to use only local labour. How does he manage? No idea.

Near the project site, A. and Ray discover three puppies, only weeks old, struggling alone beneath the oppressive sun. They are yelping for their mother who is nowhere in sight. So our racers give them water and try to feed them crumbled biscuits (didn’t work). Alas, what more can they do?

Our racers return for a final whiskey-infused evening in lovely Pondicherry, where Ray is once more denied a meal of channa (it seems all of India is out of chick peas!) And the next day, they return to the metropolis of Chennai (not channa), where –alas!– the pair make their final parting. A.’s parents have arrived, and she will travel with them from this point on. Ray settles into the Hotel Pandian, armed with whiskey and a local internet cafe.

Next time on The Amazing Race: does the modern city of Bangalore beckon? Will A. and her family meet Ray in the scenic hillstation called “Ooty”?

Aside: Wired correspondent and Chennai resident, Lakshmi S. tells Ray and A. that the reason male Tamil film stars look like Ron Jeremy is the same reason that Ron Jeremy looks like Ron Jeremy: because the common man needs someone he can relate to on-screen. The common woman is out of luck.