I am in Chennai on a five day visit currently. Not a vacation. Work related. Ohh, forgot to mention this but I changed jobs last week. Post on my journey at ICICI Bank will also be up soon.
Landed here at around 9 am on Monday. Came out of the airport and realized that the sun may decide to get up from the West, a dog’s tail may straighten and Shreesanth may cease to irritate, but Chennai will always remain hot and save the foreigners the cost of going to a tanning saloon.
I have had a brief tryst with the city of Amma and Kalaignar around five years ago. I was 23, inexperienced and gullible. I hated this city then. I hated the weather, the landlord and most importantly, the bloody rickshaw drivers. These chaps had for display newly installed meters, all shiny and bubble wrapped. However, the drivers considered it as just display items. For a ten minute journey, one had to spend at least 10 minutes more haggling with them on the price at which they deemed it fit for us to have the honour to park our derrieres in their vehicles and let them drive us down to our destinations. This haggling was normally done in a mixture of English, sign language and Rajni style gesticulations. This time, the first two days’ experience with these chaps was surprisingly tame. The negotiations spanned roughly a minute and reasonable prices were quoted and bought down with the highest level of civility. I was wondering whether these people have been tutored to behave politely with travellers. Then today, we had the pleasure of haggling with one driver after we had reached the office for about 7 minutes. Today’s experience was somewhat reassuring. Chennai’s weather has something for company in the “will not change for anything” department.
What has changed though is the traffic. Five years ago, travelling in cars did not take more than 15 minutes irrespective of where you wanted to go within the city from wherever you were situated. This time, I have already been stuck in a couple of jams. Mainly due to road closures. There is a lot of construction going on in the city, at least in the part where I am situated. One of Chennai’s unique aspects was that for a metro, it was known to be a more “sedate” place. This seems to be changing.
One of the very few things I loved about Chennai during my earlier visit here was the Landmark store. Most of my Sundays were spent exploring the store and the thousands of books it “stored”. Sadly, I have had no time to visit it though it is located close to the guesthouse. This needs to be redressed.
Still to come – Part 2 of the Chennai diary wherein I shall comment on the rest couple of days of my stay in the pride of the Tamilians.