Three days at Neyveli this week. Neyveli is a government town – part of the Lignite Corporation. They mine (open cast) in the land beside Neyveli and make HUGE mountains out of the sand left over after retrieving the Lignite for burning for energy. It is a relatively wealthy town, with people having houses and gardens and apparently uninterrupted power and water. It is also relatively quiet, which is a relief after Chennai. I was able to go for a walk in the evening without fearing for my life from passing traffic or wondering what might be in the pool of water on the pavement!
I was staying an in a “guesthouse”. It looked and felt rather like living in a military camp – not helped by the fact that there were hundreds of police staying there, with salutes and formal military stuff going on around. I did not feel very comfortable in the atmosphere – as you could well imagine. On arrival I had to fill in more forms that I had to for an Indian Visa back in NZ.
Not helped by the fact that I had left my passport locked in my room safe back in Chennai. I even thought about it, but decided it would be safer to leave it behind. However Mr Dass realised that the hotel in Chennai had a copy of the important pages so had then fax it through. That was then acceptable for them. Apparently this has only become mandatory in the last few months.
My room was basic but reasonably comfortable with a miniscule television on the wall and noisy air-con. The bathroom facilities were dirty enough that you wondered who had been there before you……I eventually found a switch for hot water, but until then the water was at best tepid. Meals were taken in Dining Halls – we were assigned Dining Hall 1 – yes it was that way! the first time I left the establishment they came running after me to ask me to hand in my key. When they did not ask Mr Dass for his, I complained to him that they treated me quite badly in comparison, so he must have said something as they never asked me for it again 🙂
Food was served on tin or plastic plates with plastic sheets to put your plate on – generally still with the remains of whoever had eaten there before us. Having said that, the food was very nice, very vegetarian and Indian (hot!). All rice based – including the Idli (or Bread patties), so very good for any gluten intolerant people? On the first night we all ate in my room as there was a huge military meeting going on, so it was decided that I would be more comfortable in my room. My host there even bought me in a bottle of (strong) beer to drink, but no opener of course, so I had to use a little kiwi ingenuity – (no NOT my teeth!!) to be able to drink it. Hopefully that fork will recover in time :):)
Exams were held in the Lignite Corporation Clubrooms. This had only fans, so it was pretty warm. Almost out in the open air….looking at the view above. The students were lovely. I was greeted by a crowd of them and some of the girls wore ball-dresses for their examination!
The photo that I did take of them all was at the end of my last day there – and it was the least colourful day (Mostly boys). they would also farewell me every day and follow down stairs to wave goodbye. All very nice, but in the end it became a little wearing. Still only three days and we were off – to lunch at a nice local hotel. I offered to pay (for myself, Mr Dass and driver – 280 rupees – about NZ$9). Last of the big spenders. It was very good as well – as long as you like Indian food, which I do 🙂
Off to Pondicherry (also called Pudicherry – but I don’t like that name as much). More about that trip shortly, but at the moment, farewell to Neyveli!