Madurai

A dirty town with a magnificent temple.
Man making wicker chairs, Madurai. Many cities in India sport streets lined with men bending and lashing chairs: hanging chairs, lounging chairs, dining chairs, all kinds of chairs. Man bending wicker to make a chair, Madurai.
Bull walking down the street, Madurai. Madurai is a eastward-leading transport hub, a good place to get clothes made, and it has a magnificent temple where you can see all manners of pujas being performed. It's also filthy and full of touts trying to sell you clothes or trying to get you into shops by telling you that you can see the temple from the top. Choose your transportation wisely: Madurai, Tami Nadu. Choose your transportation wisely: Madurai, Tami Nadu.
Florida Postal Worker preparation guide, in a bookstore in Madurai. I laughed out loud when I saw this, so far from Florida: the idea of someone studying for something so provincial and distant seemed ridiculous. It was sitting next to a New Jersey State Police Entrance Examination Preparation Handbook. The rest of the books were normal textbooks: chemistry, physiology, that kind of thing. Woman making idli dough, Madurai. I took a wrong turn looking for a particular internet cafe and ended up on a small residential lane where this woman had her arm almost to the elbow in batter, which (her son told me) was idli batter. Idlis are rice-based flatbreads that Indians, particularly in the south, eat for breakfast.
Family in Madurai. And then all the women present got together for a photo. Two boys on the street in Madurai. Two boys on the street in Madurai.
Two women in Madurai. The instant-gratification magic of the digital camera worked again; when I showed the idli-batter woman's relatives her picture, everybody wanted to see their picture on the camera. Dravidian temple sculpture, Madurai. I didn't take a digital picture of the main temple at Madurai, but this is a detail from a smaller one on the street to give you an idea of what they look like. Now you need to imagine five fifteen-story towers covered with these kinds of things. It's impressive, if somewhat gaudy.
Brahma bull, Madurai. These formidable looking animals are (according to Don Oberdorfer, who ought to know since he grew up here) called Brahma bulls, and they frequently, either singly or in pairs, can be seen pulling loads, more so in Tamil Nadu than in Kerala. Their horns are most often painted blue, but sometimes other colors, like this fellow. Woman drawing a Kolam outside of her business, Madurai. Kolams are a Tamil art and worship, which Tamil women draw outside of their homes or businesses. The two references that I've checked (Lonely Planet and an online journal called Kolam) both say that they are traditionally drawn at dawn, but I saw many also being drawn at dusk, like this one.