This weekend I have been in Chennai. Chennai where you might ask? Well, if you have an old atlas, you might better look for Madras, which it was known as before.
Before I went there, my Mumbaian colleagues really warned me about Chennai. The people are awful, they don’t even speak Hindi, and they just want to cheat on you. One of the guys even said something like going to Chennai is “below my league”, I think.
But I would rather like to quote Lonely Planet, which says the following about Chennai: “Chennai has neither the cosmopolitan, prosperous air of Mumbai (Bombay), the optimistic buzz of Bengaluru (Bangalore) or the historical drama of Delhi. It’s muggy, polluted, hot as hell and difficult to get around. Traditional tourist attractions are few. Even the movie stars are, as one Chennaiker put, ‘not that hot’. But the locals are a little friendlier than average here, the streets a little wider and, in spite of the booming IT, business-outsourcing and auto industries, the pace much slower than in most Indian cities half its size. Chennai is so modest you wouldn’t even know it is an economic powerhouse, much less a queen of showbiz. India’s fourth-largest city is also its most humble”.
So how was Chennai to me? Well, it was surely not hot as hell. And if I compare it to Mumbai, I’m not that sure if it is quite muggy or polluted either. Not that many tourist attractions is probably right. But for me who were only there for a weekend that is not a big problem. I must say that I do found the city quite nice, and I can understand now why the Mumbaians says that living there is so stressful, even if I think the word is maybe not right. The pace in Chennai is surely much slower. The streets are surely much wider, and funnily enough, I could see a lot less stray dogs, and more cows! Which I think is what much people like to see in India!
At Saturday I meet a friend of me who lived in Norway for quite a few years. He’s actually the person who first suggested that I should go to India, so it was really nice to see him! And I even meet his full family, kids, wife, parents, and parents-in-law. Quite nice indeed. He has taken position in a new flat that is about to come up, so on Saturday we went to see that place. That’s one interesting thing with Chennai. Because there is so much more space there than what it is in Mumbai, the way they set up new areas is quite different. In Mumbai, it is quite uncommon to see new buildings below, well, maybe 10 floors. While in Chennai, they do build houses with only 3 floors! So it looks quite different, but it was surely quite interesting to see. You can see a model of the area here:
One of the things that I was recommended to do was to visit the Marina Beach at sunrise. So well, I just had to wake up around 5 am in the morning to do it! But it was clearly worth it. Marina Beach in Chennai is said to be the second widest beach in the world (no idea which one is the widest one, maybe Copacabana?) , so when I went there I had to walk quite a bit just to get to the water. But it was just fantastic. I was there alone with some fishermen and a few people who played football. I actually think it was a bit too dark to cricket. When the sun came up more people came. It was some joggers, some yoga folks, and surely the cricket players came quite early. Remember that Chennai is the proud home town of the Chennai Super Kings, as it is written in the airport.
After having been at the beach for an hour or so, I started to walk around and have a look at the rest of Chennai, or at least at the area where I was living. One advantage with Chennai is that it is actually possible to walk around at part of the city, so that was quite nice. I could see quite a few temples, as I said, many cows and a lot of small nice shops. After having a nap at the noon, I went out and had a look at the St Georges fort, and the fort museum. Quite nice I must say.
Overall I really liked Chennai. Not sure if it is a place to stay for a long tourist, but for a weekend trip, it was surely good. And I would absolutely like to come back one day soon.
Talk to you soon!