And then we were in India.The plane trip felt like a week-long event. Of the two separate Indian men Chris sat next to on each flight, after hearing all about our virtually plan-less four-month trip, both leaned over and solemnly, with genuine concern, issued the mildly terrifying words of warning: “Be careful”, and proceeded to make it sound as though we were going to be jumped in the street.
Suffice to say, that hasn’t happened. Even after a whole day of fearless meandering. We were stared at a lot, but the only scary thing that happened was the taxi ride from the airport, and that was probably because our driver liked to speed up around cement roadblocks, large vehicles, and pedestrians.
We finally went to sleep at about 1:30am after the terror had worn off (6am Sydney time), woke up at about 6am India time to someone singing very loudly in Hindi, and a ground-breakingly good coffee from the hotel. I don’t know what they used or what they put in it, but it was great. Chris took one sip and said, “It’s like all my breakfasts in one”. So it was probably cocaine.
Then we walked around Chennai for hours. To be honest, it’s a pretty unexciting city. There’s things like museums, temples and the gigantor Marina Beach, but nothing you really feel compelled to stop and look at.
To put it in perspective, we saw some goats chilling in an enclosure near central, and stopped to marvel with the camera. We did see what looked like a mini parade going down the street at one point, complete with music, singing, firecrackers, flowers, and what looked like a giant float.
Turns out it was a funeral and in the ‘float’ was the body.
We stopped marvelling at that one.
It also appears the ‘hotel wifi’ we read about is a myth, so we spent a portion of the day trying to get Chris an Indian sim card – a process which is difficult, to say the least. We were photocopying documents, signing things, getting additional passport photos so officials can approve the pre-paid sim application, which must be submitted with photocopies of all identifying documentation, and passport photos. For Vodafone. After all that we still didn’t have an active sim card because you had to call back at 7pm and quote your address in order for the activation to work.
Security is actually kind of tight. There are armed guards and metal detectors at shopping centres.
Last night, we had our first meal at a random place. We tried to find somewhere locals were eating, and found this tandoori place with a few people in it and decided it would have to do. Turned out to be a great choice – by the time we left locals were piling in. Win.
We’re leaving today for Mahabalipuram, if we can figure out the bus system. We have to catch a public bus to a place called Parrys, and a coach from there to Mahabalipuram. One thing I've learnt is that all times are approximate. Things work, they just won't work quickly, and I think the less annoyed we become things are slow or go wrong, the happier we'll be, so even if this bus thing doesn't work out the way we think it will (my doubts are strong), we'll just have to be ok with it.