Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is in the south east. The flight from Delhi took about two and a half hours. We arrived at our friends' apartment just as the rain began. A monsoon rainstorm, torrential, for several hours, accompanied by an almost deafening thunderstorm. The roads were soon like a river and we heard the next day that many people, adults and children, had taken several hours to get home that night. But the next morning, although not sunny, at least the rain had stopped and the roads were mostly dry again.
Our friends had made arrangements for us all to go along the coast to a beach resort for the weekend. It was about an hour and a half drive and we arrived at around lunchtime.
That part of the coast was hit by the 2004 tsunami and there are still about 1700 people waiting to be rehoused. Lions Clubs International are helping with this project and there are some new buildings still being erected. Meanwhile the people are having to live in temporary accommodation. (click on the picture to enlarge)
The weather improved over the weekend and by the time we left to go back to Chennai it was very hot and sunny and in fact remained that way for the rest of our holiday.
That first weekend saw the start of Diwali - the Festival of Light. From Saturday through to Tuesday there were fireworks being set off most of the time, day and night. In some cases it was the children in the streets setting off firecrackers, there were fireworks being set off from roof tops but we also saw large displays, one such on the Saturday evening lasted for about 30 minutes and Standard Fireworks posters were much in evidence.
We had a very relaxed weekend, swimming, reading or just dozing in the warm sunshine. Unfortunately, I didn't swim in the sea, which I love to do. There it is part of the Bay of Bengal and a little too rough for me as I am not a strong swimmer. In any case, the red flag was often flying.
This is the view from my hammock -
and this is some young local men with their home made craft getting ready to go fishing. They bound four pieces of wood together with twine/string, pushed it out into the water jumped on and paddled away. Once beyond the shore they threw a net over the side and then waited for their haul.
The rest of our holiday was very relaxed. Two weekends at the beach with some shopping, sightseeing and socialising in between. At the beach we were close to Mammalapuram, which is famous for its wonderful carvings in the rocks. We visited to see for ourselves and bought some hand carved bowls as a memento.
There is so much more I could write about, that we saw in our two weeks, I have only really scratched the surface. Our holiday went all too quickly and suddenly it was time to pack up to come home. I have to admit that India was never at the top of our holiday destination list, in spite of my longing to see the Taj Mahal. I am so pleased we decided to go there.
So, some of my abiding memories and in no particular order:
That first moment in Delhi in the heat and sunshine and noise.
The Taj Mahal - obviously.
The sheer volume of traffic.
The beautiful Indian girls and women, in their jewel coloured saris.
Also seeing some of those lovely women, sitting side saddle on the backs of motorbikes and scooters, their glossy black hair, sometimes in a plait, hanging down their backs and of course, no helmets.
And the motorbikes and scooters with the whole family astride, dad steering with small child in front, another small child behind and mum at the back, sometimes holding baby. Again, no helmets!
The friendliness of the people.
The deliciously fragrant food.
The colours and vibrancy of it all.
I loved it and wouldn't have missed a second. Would I return? Most definitely, YES!
And finally - we got to the airport at 1 am for our 4 am flight back to London and checked in to be told that courtesy of British Airway we had been upgraded to Business Class. Wow!
We arrived in London at 9.15 am, met up with our friend/driver at 10 am and were back home by just after mid-day.
The other side
4 days ago