Sunday, October 30, 2011

I'm in Chennai, Trick!

Well, I'm here! It was a loooooong couple of flights but really easy, actually. I boarded the plane to Singapore Thursday night, watched a couple of movies, knocked myself out at 2 AM, woke up 8 hours later feeling fantastic, watched 3 episodes of Game of Thrones (newest obsession now!), and was there (Saturday morning!) Then I moved quickly through the Singapore airport which was pretty interesting. Huge candy stores (I suppose everyone is addicted to sugar), and odd stands like this one that was selling stuff that looked like candied beef jerky? If anyone knows what that was, please comment!

The flight to Chennai was fun. The flight attendant offered me watermelon juice, which I happily imbibed. Then, to get in the Indian mood, I ordered an authentic breakfast.
It was good! Just ate the rice and lentils...the rest was rather uninteresting.

Flying into Chennai, I was struck by what a huge city it is. Here was my view:
The airport is definitely different from any other airport I've visited. Unsurprisingly, very bare-bones. There was a huge group of dark-skinned men (nationalities unknown) who came to the city without visas trying to get tourist visas last-second. They were all pushing up against each other and waving their visa applications in the air--wild. The lines were long but I made friends with a nice Australian dude named Warren who gave me some good tips and walked with me after the immigration line out into the madness of hundreds of taxi drivers hoping to take a willing tourist for a rickshaw ride...but I quickly saw my driver, Deva, waiting for me with a smile and a sign with my name on it. What a relief! Driving through the city is complete mayhem. There is absolutely no order at all. Thankfully, they don't go that fast, so I was not scared--just fascinated. Here are a few pics:

The city's big mall, Express Avenue
One of many fruit stands

Lots of food shacks on the streets
Busy busy roads

I believe this is this woman's home. Striking poverty.
Stray dog that kept rubbing itself on whatever it could.

There are really funny street signs here! I passed them too quickly to take any photos, but they read things like, "Save Rain Water" and "Don't Spit Here."

After I checked into my hotel and showered up (Ahhhhhhh) withOUT singing in the shower, (!!!new for me!!!) Deva took me to Fab India where I bought 4 tops and 3 bottoms for $80! I will wear these when I'm here as typical American clothes aren't considered appropriate or respectful as they are mostly too tight and show a woman's form, a no-no here. I love them! They're colorful and comfortable. Then we stopped at the grocery store to guy water, Gatorade (it's really hot, so I've got to be careful), and Tide so I can handwash my clothes in the tub.

I went downstairs around 4:00 for dinner (clearly I'm not on schedule yet). I ordered carrot cinnamon soup with a little goat cheese toast and pesto fish with roasted vegetables and red pepper coulis. Not exactly authentic native cuising, but I figure I can ease into it a little....I wanted something comforting, familiar, and safe for my first dinner. And so now I am just biding time to ichat with my husband and go to bed! I'm going to try to make myself stay awake until at least 8:00 or so to try to get myself on Indian time.

Everyone so far has been very accomadating and kind. Deva is going to take me for a day of shopping tomorrow. I hope to pick up some fun jewelry, fabrics, and who-knows-what.

More to come! The adventure begins!


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