Woke up in time to watch an incredible sunrise over the mountains. I walked up to the front of the car and stood in the open door to watch it. The reflections in the rice paddies, the silhouetted palms, the cool greens of the banana trees and the rails rushing buy underneath, it all made me realize - I'm in India! and I was glad. The remainder of the train trip was a little less dramatic, the dirty windows prevented any enjoyment of the scenery and the smokers drove me from the open door. We got in to Madurai around 7:30 and with a little luck I found an auto-rickshaw driver who could get me to my hotel. The hotel was quite a ways out of town. At the hotel I had some difficulty getting a room. The hotel has two hotels, and I think they want the tourist at the new, more expensive place across the street. When I persisted I finally got my four dollar room. I spent a couple hours just hanging out, trying not to sleep, but also feeling to tired to head out.
Around eleven I ventured out. I was stupid, I should have set out first thing when it was cooler and then come back to rest when it got hot. Because it was hot! I caught a rickshaw back in to town to the temple. I didn't go in because A) it was closed for midday and B) I'm probably going to go with Amy tomorrow. So instead I wander around the back streets - this was much more enjoyable as I didn't get pestered as badly by the drivers. I browsed a couple bookstores but didn't find anything interesting. Eventually I ended up near the train station and had a decent pizza type thing (it was cheese and veggies on some kind of pastry thing) for lunch.
Back near the temple I wandered in to the Pudu Mandapam a bazillion pillared open hall that's being used as a market. Clearly it must have been a temple at some point - it's covered in elaborate carvings of deities and devils. It was fun to wander down one side (stainless steel and brass) and then through the vast middle space (tailors and cloth venders), and then down the other (books and stationers). It was pleasant to be away from the touts and other leaches attracted to tourist. Here the people were friendly and interested and interesting. I stopped at a stall in the temple gate and asked what some little carved brass rods were and was told that they were used as dice for a game (actually I wasn't told, but they mimed it out for me). They were cheap and interesting, so I bought several pairs. When I tried to get the men to explain the game they refused and sent me over to some women to ask. The women were more than happy to explain - I wonder if it's a children's game and the men aren't supposed to play it? But basically it was our childhood game of Slide and Ladders, except here it's Snakes and Ladders and when you win there are pictures of all the main deities.
By then it was getting late and I was too hot, so I headed back to the hotel. It took my taxi driver three tries to get me there ("This is a very nice cheap hotel", "yes, I'm sure it is, but it's not my hotel."). Then when we did get to my hotel he wanted more money because of all the driving around (and not getting a commission). I cleaned up, went out for bottled water, then met up with Amy. She'd had to work all day in a village and was ready for a beer. We sat in the room and talked for a while, then went out for diner and a beer. I walked Amy back to her guest house and was back in my room a little after ten - barely able to stay awake.