India Day 1 – Chennai (Madras)

Another holiday, another journey…this time, a solo mission to India for 25 days.  On December 16th I checked in at Singapore’s budget terminal, exchanged my last $330 Singapore dollars (receiving 8,250 Rupees), got a 2 4 1 sushi dinner at the Genki Sushi shop, then boarded the flight.  I’ve felt better.  Flu had consumed me from yesterday, my leg ached from football, my jaw ached from getting punched my the Japanese goalkeeper the week before, and my mouth was full of sores, my gums red raw, glands swollen.  Perfect timing.

The profile of passengers on the flight was rather homogenous.  Only myself, a couple of travellers, a family, and a strange looking albino bloke with a shock of white hair disrupted the demograph.  The flight was cramped and unpleasant.  No food or drink was offered, unless you paid for it.  Serves me right for booking so late and having to fly budget.  4 hours later we arrived in Chennai.  The airport is quite new and looks very modern.  I went through passport control, feeling the worse for wear.  My glands used to swell up on a weekly basis in Jakarta, but I had medicine for them there.  Now I was just gonna have to grin and bear it.

Having got my bag, I proceeded outside to look for my waiting rickshaw driver, head held high, striding confidently so I wouldn’t get picked out as ‘fresh’ to India and harrassed mercilessly.  Harini, an Indian lady who works at the British Council, had got her uncle Mareraju to arrange for me to be picked up at the airport.  I was glad of the friendly face.  The line of locals at the gate was long and 6 deep, but as I strode past the baying crowd, I saw a small piece of card with my name scrawled on it, albeit the wrong way around:  ‘Donovan Neil.’  The 2 smiling people with the sign were Karuppasamy and Naveen.  I greeted them, and chatted to Naveen whilst Karuppasamy went to get my transport for the next couple of days:  an autorickshaw (tuk-tuk in Thailand, or bajaj in Indonesia).  He made his living as a rickshaw driver.  The yellow rickshaw arrived, and I piled my backpack in, then we set off on a hair-raising ride to my hotel, the ‘Abu Palace Hotel’, in which I got a 35% discount thanks to Naveen, though it was still a hefty 1,200 Rupees.  Karuppasamy was clearly anxious to see I was happy, so I accepted the dicounted room, room 212, ordered 2 bottles of mineral water, and watched Indian music videos, lavishly directed and colourful, until I was ready for bed.

Author: Neil

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