Despite the wonderful array of 'big' sights in Tamil Nadu - temples, fortifications, great sweeping beaches, high mountains - it is the little things and the low-key and random interactions with local people which really give the state its true flavour.
Of course it's impossible to 'predict' what types of experiences you might encounter during a tour of Tamil Nadu but there are many possibilities; here are a few.
In the area between Trichy and Chettinad, a number of villages specialise in roasting cashew nuts in the traditional way - over an open fire. Not far away on the main coastal highway, you'll see potters, again working in traditional ways with a minimum of machinery and using locally sourced materials.
All along the coast there are communities of fishermen who live in very simple villages close to the ocean. And everywhere you go you'll pass through villages where the simple event of you getting out of your vehicle will attract a crowd- people love nothing more than to chat with visitors over a cup of chai at a local tea stall and the amount of English spoken in south India means that it's possible to have an actual conversation in most places you're likely to stop.
Rural life in Tamil Nadu for the "average" villager still involves long days and strenuous physical labour. But this in no way bows the spirit of the people or makes them any less friendly and cheerful.
The opportunity to stop, share a photo and a smile and perhaps exchange a few words with visitors is always seized with great pleasure by Tamil villagers- this is one of the best ways to gain an understanding of the local way of life and experience Tamil Nadu as the locals do.
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