Travel Guide – Episode 2 – Hamish Takes Chennai
It is time again for yet another installment of Hamish Joy’s tips for the prudent traveler. If you are not a prudent traveler, I would suggest that you read this anyway, because the cleverly hidden secret agenda of Hamish Joy’s articles is to increase readership. Why is that? I cannot imagine. But one of my friends can. She says I’m addicted to fame. Of course, she herself wants to live in obscurity, and finds tedious the 16,325,129 fans that she has garnered over the years. Tut tut. Poor dear.
Again, I stray from the point. A Hamish is a very compassionate person, and might occasionally tend to spend hours tut tutting poor dears like her. But I have to focus on the topic at hand here. I am here to share experiences of my travel again to the deserving public, and that is what I will now proceed to do.
The place of the hour is Chennai. The single-most valuable piece of advice that I can give you is… IF you are planning on visiting the wonderful South Indian City in the summer time, you should consult your psychiatrist. Trust me, you may think you’re ok, but you’re not.
“Mr. Renner, you’re telling me that you want to visit Chennai? Now? In the summer? Oh dear. Just when I was beginning to think we were making progress! As your psychiatrist, I think we’re gonna have to schedule additional sessions, I’m afraid.”
Perhaps I’m being too obtuse about this. After all, lots of people DO live there. Even in the summer. Perhaps, I just felt it hotter than I had anticipated, and it threw me off guard. Perhaps it’s not all that bad. And perhaps Anu Malik composes only original music.
If you’d observe the people in Chennai, you’ll find that they are always rushing around. You might feel that this is because Chennai is a very busy city, and that people are rushing around because they are constantly late for one thing or the other. But if you want to know the carefully guarded truth, those people are rushing around for a more basic reason. Survival. If you stay in one place in Chennai for too long, you would actually melt! This is a proven fact.
If you look at the faces of any person dumb enough to stay under the sun for too long (about 3.27 seconds), you would note drops of fluid covering up his face. The uninformed observer might just take this to mean that the poor fellow is sweating. A more informed observer, such as myself, would instantly recognize that the person is slowly, but surely, liquefying into a small pool by the road.
This is why I take very special care not to step on puddles in Chennai. Hey, I wouldn’t want to be stepped on; would you? Of course, no one has seen an entire person dissolve into a puddle, but that is because observing the whole act would probably take enough time to make the observer himself start to join the act.
But heat aside, Chennai is a lovely place to be. In fact, if you would take care not to leave the confines of an AC room or a car at any time during your stay, I would readily recommend a visit there, providing the Chennai Tourism Department gives me large undisclosed amount of tax-free money. (But of course, this wouldn’t affect what I write. Not at all.)
Where else in the country would you find such solid infrastructure, refined culture, polite people, or healthy modes of transportation? You can be sure that irrespective of which corner of Chennai you are at; irrespective of how desolate or remote the area is; no matter how lost you feel, you can always rest assured that you would find plenty of autos in your vicinity just waiting to overcharge you.
The auto drivers of Chennai are misunderstood creatures. In their hearts, they are kind and decent people just wanting to help any and all visitors in their land. Selfless puritans spreading the joy of sharing and caring. However, their math is a bit rustic, and if you are not careful enough to fix the rate BEFORE you embark on a fifteen minute ride, you might end up having to hock your kidney for paying the fare. I wouldn’t recommend you to do this, because you NEED your kidney for paying for all the shopping you’re going to do.
There are lots of places where ladies can go shopping for clothes, jewels, and whatever other things ladies usually go shopping for. Not being a lady myself, I confess I am basing this on hearsay evidence. And for gents and related gadget-freaks, there are quaint shops where we get imported electronic goods, notably the area called Parry’s Corner. If you know how to bargain effectively, you could get a Nikon D70 Digital SLR camera for as cheap as fifteen rupees. We KNOW that all these items have been imported legally. It is pretty clear because importing them illegally is NOT PERMISSIBLE BY LAW. They wouldn’t do anything that is not permissible by law, would they? I don’t think we have anything to worry about.
Though you may not have understood from the text above, I DID enjoy my trip there, and AM looking forward to my next visit. In fact, I’ll probably visit the place several times. And when I get exhausted by all that frequent traveling, I might even take a breather. So if you have any plans of visiting Chennai, please please please take care not to step on puddles.