How well-equipped is this city for those raising infants/toddlers? Specifically, are there public places to change diapers, maintained playgrounds, etc?
Public spaces are not well-equipped for infants and toddlers. There are no specified places to change diapers, etc. Most apartment condos have enclosed play areas, and so do clubs and the better hotels. In general, expatriates with smaller children meet at each other's houses to visit and have play dates.
Where can I get a list of reliable childcare providers/nannies?
Usually good nannies can be recommended by outgoing expatriates. You can get recommendations from the OWC (Overseas Women’s Club - Madras).
Discuss any safety issues for children in this city.
The problem of traffic, drugs, alcoholism, etc., does not exist to a large extent in this part of India, though there have been a few stray cases.
What are the most popular kid-friendly attractions in the area?
There are a couple of amusement parks (including a water park) in and around the city, such as Kishkinta Theme Park, MGM and Mayajaal. One can also go go-karting at Kart Attack and Danny’s Karting.
What are the most popular activities for kids after school or on weekends?
There are various bowling alleys, such as Snow Bowling, Down Under and many others. Organized team sports have not made a big impact in Chennai. The local movie theaters show a selection of movies made in India and around the world.
What's it like to be a teenager in this city? Are there any particular challenges I should be aware of as a parent?
Most good nightclubs require memberships costing around US$250 per annum. You need to be above 18 years of age to order alcoholic beverages; most nightclubs close by midnight. There are movie theaters that show a selection of movies made in India and around the world.
Are there any organizations/social groups in the area that cater exclusively to young people ages 12-17?
No formal sports teams. The most popular game in this part of India is cricket. However, most schools have their own teams.
I want my child to get the most out of our stay in this country. Are there any specific opportunities to teach young people about the local culture?
Chennai celebrates many local festivals, including:
- Pongal: This is the harvest festival of giving thanks to sun, earth and the cow. The festival is celebrated in the month of January for three days. Sugarcane, turmeric, sheaves of paddy, newly prepared jaggery, vegetables and pulses are offered to the sun god. The earth and the cow are also worshipped and offerings are made. The festival ends with "Kanum Pongal" on the third day when children enjoy watching the celebrations.
- Vinayaka Chathurthi: Lord Ganesha or Vinayaka, the elephant-headed god, is among the most worshipped deities of the state. The Ganesha Puja, a ceremony where Lord Ganesha is worshipped, is performed with fervor and gaiety. The celebration ends on the ninth day when the idols of Vinayaka are carried submerged in water as part of a procession chanting his name in wells, lakes, rivers or ocean. The festival falls in the month of September.
- Navarathri: This is another festival that lasts for nine days. The goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathy, the consorts of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma respectively, are worshipped. The festival falls in the months of September and October and is marked with traditional displays of handmade dolls.
- Deepavali: This festival of lights is usually celebrated in October or November. It generates an atmosphere of gaiety, friendliness and excitement.
- Aruvathimoovar Festival: The bronze statues of 63 Shivite saints in the magnificent Kapaliswarar temple at Mylapore, who lived in devotion and penance, are taken in a colorful procession through the streets of Mylapore, Chennai.
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