After months of planning and anticipation I have finally made my way to Chennai, India. I haven’t been here 24 hours and it’s already left a remarkable imprint on me. I arrived in the wee hours of the morning last night, 12 am to be exact. I was tired and feeling like I was in a fog after 24 continuous hours of traveling, and very little sleep. I struggled to go through customs, pick up my baggage and exchange money. I fumbled my words, had no eye-hand coordination, and was extremely clumsy. Fortunately, everyone I had some kind of contact with seemed to understand, and just led me along the entire process. Many times I was more concerned about where I just put my passport than anything else. Even though I was feeling overwhelmed by the jet lag i didn’t feel consumed with worry…I was probably too tired to feel that emotion.
Arriving under the cover of darkness can give a traveler a false impression. The activity of the city fades with night. Even though there were many many cars, trucks, and scooters hustling about at night, I knew I wouldn’t be getting the correct impression until daylight. My driver and I passed through the city streets to the guest house where I would be staying for the next week called Frangi House. This guesthouse is in a neighborhood close to consulates. I’m on a really quiet street which makes it a perfect place to start.
This morning I got up and decided to get going. I wasn’t able to sleep long anyway because of the jet lag. Chennai is 10 1/2 hours ahead of Washington, DC. So as I was getting up and starting my day in Chennai, people back home were off from work and ending their day. It’s a little confusing on the body. Anyway, I had some breakfast and a few conversations with other guests in the house and made my way out and about.
Quickly I became immersed into a mesmerizing tangle of pedestrians, scooters, tuktuk drivers, taxis, buses, cars, trucks and animals. There seems to be a lot of main roads right outside this quiet little neighborhood which provides an interesting array of sounds. It can get a little overwhelming at times.
I managed to go walking for about 2 1/2 hours. It would seem like I covered a lot of ground, but it was only about 3 miles. You see, you actually have to pay attention and look where you’re going. There are lots of obstacles and you really need to be aware of your surroundings. At some point there seemed to be so much going on, that I just had to stop and take it all in before making the next step. There were several times along my little walk where I thought to myself,” Nope, there is no way I’m crossing that street.” It was like human frogger (old Atari game, look it up).
All along the way people were just going about their daily business. People going to work, school, opening up shops, cleaning. It’s a lot of motion. The city’s a population is about 4.3 million people, and I’m only in this tiny neighborhood. I can’t wait until the jet lag wears off a bit more, so I can get out and explore.
Tomorrow a couple of others arrive to the guest house and I’m hoping we can get out there and do a little bit of exploring together. One of the tough things about coming here on my own is not having someone to do it with. It’s great to travel, and I do get an amazing feeling by doing this on my own, but sometimes it can be a little lonely. However, I find that it’s easy to combat that feeling with keeping in touch with people back home. In this day and age, everyone is just a phone call or video call away.