Saturday, November 28, 2009


October 23, we arrived in Chennai, India.  As usual a group of us waking up to see the sunrise over our newest port.  This sunrise in particular was special.  One of our colleagues would be leaving us in India and returning to the US after visiting her family.  Our sunrise was bitter sweet.

Upon our arrival while still in the waterway before 6am we could hear the traffic.  Horns blowing and just vehicle noise.  This should have prepared us to the congestion and amount of people we would encounter in India, the vehicles, rickshaw, farm animals and pedestrians all part of the traffic pattern.  We were also greeted in the harbor by these large lavender and crimson colored jelly fish.

 I had somewhat anticipated India to be filthy and smell horribly bad, worse than Morocco even, but that in fact is not the India I experienced at all (not to say it does not exist). 

Our first day in port a group of 6 of my colleagues and I wandered into Chennai we took a taxi to the port entrance past an inspection point (which is a story and blog which may cause some ethical concerns and international incidents, therefore I have decided that in order to protect the not so innocent I will blog about it when the voyage is over) to The Sheraton Chennai; an oasis among the busy dusty street in Chennai.  a guard and gate informed us that not even the parking area was open to all.  We walked into the hotel itself and was stunned by its beauty.  We decided that instead of just asking for directions, we would have our lunch at a restaurant in the hotel, we then had a fabulous lunch of local authentic Indian food, which the waiter ordered for us.  He would ask us if we liked, lamb, or chicken, or this or that and we would nod our head in approval.  Now anyone that knows me knows that I don’t like hot spicy food, but even I gave this a go.  It was all amazing, the smells, the taste, the atmosphere.  We ended our lunch with a dessert and coffee, which I watched the chef concoct for me.

After lunch we ventured into the streets in search for this “saree mart” for a low cost on those beautiful outfits the Indian women wear.  We walked and walked and walked the streets of Chennai for like an hour.  It was hot, the sidewalks mostly unfriendly (constantly in disrepair), we could see why people walked in the street and were part of the traffic pattern.

We finally arrived to the store we were looking for and made our purchases and opted to walk around to visit and experience the street vendors.  Our group of 6 breaking up into pairs as some opted to return to the ship while others opted to continue shopping. After a long day of walking and shopping ED and I decided to take a rickshaw back to the ship, well we were in for quite an adventure as the rickshaw (a motorbike with a covered seat in the back) bobbed and weaved in and out of traffic, cutting off cars, barely stopping at traffic lights, dodging cows and people.

By the time we arrived to the port gate we were happy to be getting out of the rickshaw.    What a first day experience in Chennai.

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