26 june 2011

today was the chennai rainbow pride march, a march to promote equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. currently, legal recognition of homosexual relationships is prohibited, and – if the signs at the march are to be believed – some homosexuals are victims of police violence, extortion, and even attempted “cures” involving electro-shock therapy. a group from the u.s. consulate (including abby and me) marched under the “gays and lesbians in foreign affairs agencies” banner, and even cooper got into the act.  it was quite the spectacle – a little campy at times, but also festive.

unfortunately for the cause of raising glbt visibility, after the first 100 yards or so, the crowd vanished, almost as if the police (who were escorting the marchers) had cleared the beach of spectators in advance. also sadly, many of the march participants felt the need to wear masks despite the march’s theme of gay pride: while they made the masks look festive, many gays aren’t out to their friends or family, and they didn’t want to be recognizable in the photos or television footage.

21 june 2011

girl operating a hand-cranked merry-go-round

marina beach in chennai becomes very crowded in the evening when the day cools off, and local family-operated “businesses” set up little amusement rides, shooting ranges (of the type shown here), and snack stands to attract the passers-by. this girl is practicing, but hopefully won’t actually have to do the turning when it’s loaded with other children.

oh, what a disappointment

given my mixed experiences with animal welfare in chenai – and for that matter, with human welfare in chennai (slums, traffic, etc.) – i set off for the local zoo with every expectation of continuing my sad animals series. imagine my surprise, then, to see that the arignar anna zoological park is a spacious, clean, cage-free facility of 1,488 acres, with broad walkways, ample numbers of trees and open spaces. the largest zoo in south Asia and one of the largest in the world, it has a about 170 species of animals including elephants, giraffes, zebras, various large cats, deer, waterfowl, reptiles, monkeys, and so on, nearly all of which have a good amount of space to roam around.  all things considered, it’s not the least bit depressing.

in other words, there was nothing for me to do.

a white tiger at the arignar anna zoological park

1-2 june 2011

cooks making noodles at a nice restaurant and at a less nice restaurant. note the surgical masks in use in the kitchen of the nice restaurant.
maxwell road food court in chinatown. not surprisingly, singapore’s chinatown is the cleanest chinatown i’ve ever seen.
fruits and jellies at one stand; chicken necks at another.
we visited singapore to rendezvous with my brother sam and his wife for the first few days of june. singapore is a remarkably clean and orderly place; kind of a cross between manhattan and celebration, florida, and not necessarily in a good way. while there is a lot to see (including an excellent national museum), we were there for the food: singapore is filled with hawkers’ food courts where you can hop from stall to stall and sample the cuisines of multiple cultures – chinese, malay, indian, indonesian and british. i’d read an article by calvin trillin in a 2007 issue of the new yorker about the food courts and had wanted to go ever since; it was worth the wait.