well it LOOKED like a raw green bean…..but upon eating what was a green chilli, I instantly lost about a kilo in weight from the sweat that broke out….and it had been such a good day!…there is not much (except time) that takes away the pain of a chilli. water does not dissolve the chilli oil , but apparently beer is quite good for it…Still I know I am in India …..
So arrival in Chennai……the drive in to the hotel was punctuated by the driver tooting his horn – oh, about every 100 metres or so – sometimes for no apparent reason. Perhaps he just wanted to add to the general bedlam. Not knowing whether to tip or not, I decided not to. Does not appear to affect the level of service
The hotel Connemara is very “olde worlde”. The service is nothing if not obsequious – I really dislike being called “sir” all the time. Still the breakfast spread is very nice and I even savoured a couple of Indian dishes – in addition to my safe cereal and toast. I have not had any coffee since my arrival – so none since leaving NZ – as aircraft coffee does not count as coffee. There are four restaurants here – which is just as well because in the end tonight I decided that I could not be bothered to face the heat and noise outside again, however I get ahead of myself…..
The service here is five-star – even if parts of the hotel are not. I sat in the lobby last night by the indoor garden – actually this morning as I had just gone to bed about midnight after checking in etc only for the phone to go. It was the local rep here, who apparently thought nothing of coming in at midnight to welcome me! He gave me a beautiful setting of roses though, which make my room look a lot better.
So after a sumptuous breakfast at the Verandah Restaurant by a swimming pool, I set out to the Spencer Plaza – a huge and confusing set of shops and corridors. (I have only managed once to come out the entrance I thought I was getting to! )Bought a couple of things that I needed and decided not to bring over with me. Prices are generally very low even for the more upmarket items. I didn’t buy much as I have nine weeks to go here. There will be time to relate news of shopping expditions.
After a lunch of a mild vegetable Biryani, I decided to walk down the road to the Marina Beach. It was little further than I thought, but I suspect I did a rather circuitous route! I have a map now… :)…it was a lot quicker returning! After watching a little of a local cricket match – in reality an opportunity to sit in the shade and cool down, I hit the beach. The beach has reddish brown sand and is truly huge…It took me about 5 minutes to walk down to the water. The surf looks pretty dodgy..Apparently they frown upon people swimming because of pollution and bad rips
I arrived back at the hotel and relaxed , preparing to watch a cricket match between India and Pakistan. The phone went again. The rep wanted me to come to his shop for a ceremony. So I went with him. It is about 5 minutes by car – and probably about the same walking – testament to the chaos that India Roads appear to be – I don’t know of any road rules that I have not seen broken today. Lights are run regularly. Car horns go incessantly and motorbikes appear to rule the road. The pavements are either broken or used for stalls or beggars – or children’s games.
Anyway to the ceremony…..today is the ninth day of the Navarathari Pooja (prayer) Festival.Called Ayudha Pooja, they hold a ceremony where they take the negative forces away and leave only positive feelings. There was incense, several lamps with flames…..we had to hold our hands to the fire and also we were presented with gift bags with food in them. Indian sweets/biscuits are very sweet so that will suit my sweet tooth – if I ever recover from the chilli, which is doing interesting things in my stomach as I write. Tomorrow could still be interesting!
So I will write more about India and my thoughts etc. The books are correct, Chennai is hot and congested, however I think the next few weeks could be very interesting. Come along and enjoy the ride – just be careful with the chillis!!