Finally, I get some time to blog about my trip to India. I do apologize for the lack of photo evidence, but taking photographs of things in India is now a iffy matter due to all the security stuff. Things have been tightened down because of the bomb blasts in the year 2006.
Jan 20, Sunday
I land in India after traveling for about 24 hours. It has been almost 5 years since I went home. Things should be interesting…
Service on Emirates is pretty good. Note to self: Getting seats next to the toilet would be pretty nasty. Please do avoid!
The flight from Dubai to Chennai was pretty interesting. I took a seat in the back of the plain (seats were available for the taking). There was a small baby in a incubator. They were moving the baby to India for some kind of surgery. The doctor was onboard the flight. The baby survived the flight. I hope the surgery went well.
Thankfully, I had no issues with customs, and I did not have to bribe anyone. Awesome!
I landed in Chennai lightly jet-lagged. I went around and saw relatives. I also got to go to Marina Beach (see the pics!). I got on the phone with my friends, told them I was there and when I would see them. I slept early as I was tired.
Jan 21, Monday
Went around, shopped in Mylapore. Bought some shampoo and moisturizer. This stuff is cheaper to buy in the US. Spent quality time with family. Shopped for the big function day after.
Jan 22, Tuesday
My nephew Vishnu’s first birthday function went off well. It was pretty expensive, and it was a great opportunity to see all my relatives I had not seen in ages all at once!
I went to the City Center mall. Stuff here is expensive! Everyone tells me it is normal and I have to get used to it. I went to Landmark and bought Pushpak. I hope it is as great as I remember it to be!
After I came back to the chatram (place where the function was conducted), we needed to move some of the stuff we had back to the apartment. One thing that has not changed in the past 5 years is the dammed auto drivers in Chennai. I don’t see why they are allowed to pull all the crap they pull. The auto fellow negotiated for a Rs. 15 fare for a 5 minute walk. When we started loading the luggage, he wanted more. Most of us being from a civilized part of India (ahem: Hyderabad, take a bow!) are not used to putting up with the crap. Tempers flared, and I almost hit the auto guy.
By this point in my trip, I had sworn off autos. I went to the railway station to drop my mom off and say hi to my other relatives who were also leaving to Hyderabad. I caught a bus and came to Mylapore. It cost Rs.3.50 while an auto would have cost Rs. 60 and endless heartburn.
Jan 23, Wednesday
With the function successfully completed, I left for Tirupati with my dad, sister, bro-in-law and nephew. Tirupati is the biggest temple in India, and the richest in the world. Move over, vatican. I wonder how much of the dollar depreciating accounts for this phenomenon.
Anyways, I fought the mad throngs of people in addition to the security checks of all bags, which seemed very disorganized. The “Jaragandi”/”Move along people, there are others in line” attitude has not changed, and people will push and shove to get a darshan (view) of the lord. So freaking crazy.
I came to the conclusion here that Tirupati is depicts a microcosm of the Indian life. The more money you are willing to spend, the earlier is it for you to get darshan. There are free darshans, which may take you anywhere from 6 hours to 12 hours. If you pay more, you get to wait lesser in line. I think this does not make sense when one is supposed to be queuing up to see the lord almighty, and you don’t really have time to spend there. If I was a believer, I would definitely prefer the Chilkur Balaji, where everyone is truly equal, and you cannot “bribe” the God.
Anyways, by the time I got out, I resolved never to go back there. We will see how that goes.
I got out of there late night, and took a bus to Bangalore.
Jan 24-25 (Thursday – Friday)
I met up with my college buddies Ashwin and Pavan. I must thank them here for making me feel right at home, and making me feel right at home! I had a great time there! We spent several hours recanting our college stories and generally catching up!
I spent some time with my cousin Anand, spent some more time book browsing in a local store, and generally pigging out on the good food!
Things were slow for the first time after my trip to India began, and I was glad because of it. But, good things are not meant to last forever. And I bid adieu to my friends.
On the way out, I met up with Subir, a friend of mine from Helix. We met up at the TGI Fridays, and had a couple of beers before he had to take a flight out to Hyderabad and me a flight to Chennai.
We walked to the airport from the TGI Friday’s , which is about a 20 minute walk. I reached the airport at about 8.00 PM, with a flight out at 9.00 PM. However, the security check-in line was a long drawn out affair. I talked to the lady at the counter and she nonchalantly replied “Don’t worry sir, the flight will not take off without you”. I was reassured, and my flight finally took off at about 10.00 PM, exactly an hour later. I was the last passenger on the flight. A guy in the front remarked, “Thanks for being so early!”. Hey, I swear…I hate being late!
Since my auto incident in Chennai was still fresh in my mind, I took a cab home.
Watch out for part 2 of this entry, which should be written shortly….