We arrive in India in the early hours of the morning and check into our hotel with out too many dramas. It is exciting to be here with Steve and he is already realising that India is a slightly more chaotic version of Sri Lanka….and this is a Sunday. The airport is more like a bus stop and except for the taxi stand and a few ATMs there are not too many attractions for visitors from overseas. We get to our hotel without getting ripped off and after checking in decide to take a tuk tuk to check out this city.
The guy at reception has instructed our tuk tuk driver to take us to express street. We thought it was a local market but it turned out to be a massive shopping centre. He obviously hadn’t realised we were not that kind of traveller. Still, the mall provided a respite from the heat and chaos and the smells and sounds of this city…and we thought it might be a good opportunity to get a sim card. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The misuse of the internet has caused the government to put a 10 day hold on activating a sim card! Not too great for travellers…but there was not getting around this! This was to be our first example of Indian Bureaucracy at its best. So, despite the fact we had come prepared with a mobile modem, we were not successful in setting up WIFI access.
That afternoon we meet up with our Intrepid tour leader and group. We are 12 travellers in all. Besides another couple from Sydney, the group comprises of all females from the UK, Australia and a girl from Denmark. We make friends as we travel to the Chennai Beach. The beach is another example of how different life on this continent is. The beach is teeming with activity. People are selling al kinds of wares and families are sitting around gazing at the water. Strangely, there is no one in the water. Our guide Chan tells us that at its peak there could be 50,000 people here!
I think the smells, incessant sounds of honking horns, chaotic traffic, people milling about and spilling on to the street have all taken Steve by surprise. This is a little different to Sri Lanka. We visit the local cathedral and head for dinner. Most meals on this trip will be Indian and Steve is about to get a baptism by fire…!
In religion, India is the only millionaire……the One land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined. ~ Mark Twain (American writer)