After a plane ride of over 12 hours we finally arrived in Chennai, India. WOW, is this city huge. We had no idea. The only thing we were told was that it would not be advisable to drive in India. That became apparent immediately on the way to the hotel from the airport. First, they drive on the left side of the road. Second, traffic signals are non-existent or ignored. More on this later. Anyhow, tired after a long flight, we’re happy to see our hotel shuttle waiting. Life is good.
Due to the terrorist’s attacks at hotels in Mumbai, security was intense and vigilant. This photo and the next two show the procedure we went through everyday for the next 3 months. First, security comes out to meet us with their bomb sniffing dog and under-carriage mirror. While one guard checks the bottom of the car, the dog is walked around the car. As the dog passes we are asked to open the door so that he/she can sniff us. The third guard opens the hood and looks for bombs in the engine compartment.
Once allowed inside the hotel compound, our belongings are taken and we walk through the metal detector.
Our bags are placed on the x-ray machine and returned to us. We’re making this sound horrible, but actually everyone was very efficient and professional. It was a small price to pay to make sure we stayed safe.
Once inside, we’re greeted to a beautiful lobby and a bevy of helpful staff. It was nearly impossible to open a door ourselves or carry our bags. We can’t say enough about how well the Marriott staff treated us during our 3 month stay.
As part of our room rate we were given access to the the executive lounge. Located on the top floor, we were treated to complimentary adult beverages, great snack food, and incredible desserts. We were so spoiled that it was tough to re-acclimate when we returned to the USA.
A view from one side of the executive lounge.
The traffic as viewed from the executive lounge.
Tell me that these don’t look great! Pat went to the dessert buffet first, then did a little dinner food, then went back to the dessert buffet.
The view from the backseat of our car. Work was only 10km away, yet it took over an hour to get there and an hour to get back to the hotel. If it looks crazy and disorganized that’s because it was! Driving here is NOT for the faint of heart.
This is the restaurant at the Marriott where we ate breakfast everyday. It was an amazing buffet!
Tuk-Tuks were everywhere. These 2 stroke little taxis contributed heavily to the poor air quality. As a matter of fact, the air pollution in Chennai was horrible.
No seat? No problem! This bus was leaning so much that we thought it could easily tip over. We wondered if the outdoor passengers got a discount on their fare.
These chickens didn’t have a comfortable ride either. Do you think they knew that they were going to be had for dinner?
These small motorcycles were a very popular mode of transportation in Chennai. They could easily seat up to four people!
One of our co-workers graciously gave up a day of his weekend and showed us around Chennai. First stop, sunrise over the Bay of Bengal. It’s time for relaxation and meditation. A time to take in all the surrounding beauty.
Not everyone can relax. If you look carefully, you’ll see a small fishing boat.
Getting ready to do a little fishing from the beach.
Next stop; A temple in Chennai. Ancient, beautiful, and adorned with religious figures.
Close up of the figures making up the upper part of the temple.
The detail and the color of the figures was amazing.
Next, we jump in the car and head off to Mahabalipuram (more on this later). Here we see daily life in a small suburban town just outside of Chennai.
We arrive at our destination of Mahabalipuram. The entrance to the site is this huge boulder precariously perched, seemingly defying gravity.
We elect to hire a guide to show us around the ancient town of Mahabalipuram. Built around the 7th to 9th century, it has been designated a UNESCO Heritage site. Fascinating place! To learn more follow this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabalipuram
You just have to wonder what a place like this was used for. Still standing after all these years.
Here our guide explains the meaning of some of the figures sculptured in the rock walls.
More figures carved into the rock walls. Modesty wasn’t an issue in those days.
This wall tells a story, but we can’t remember what it was, so check out the Wikipedia link we gave you earlier.
The only surviving member of the the Seven Pagotas is the Shore Temple.
Amazing artistry, don’t you think? WOW!
Next stop was a cultural Center near Mahabalipuram. The site featured these traditional dancers.
A group of school girls tour the cultural center, learning the history of region.
Traditional pot making. No, not that kind of pot. Clay pottery!!
One of our co-workers at HCL was kind enough to invite us to his home for lunch. Here we see Kali and his Daughter. She took a shining to Pat. Pat was holding her when it was time for us to leave. She refused to go to her parents and said she wanted to go with us. We told her that Pat is usually grumpy, so she decided to stay home.
Kali’s family with Pat. We were treated to some wonderful Indian food. It was a great day. Thanks Kali and Family!!
At the end of our work assignment, HCL gave us a going away party at a local resort. Many of our HCL co-workers showed up. It was a day of great food, fun, and games. Here we see Marban playing cricket. Cricket is the most popular game in India.
More cricket players.
It wasn’t just cricket. We found out that Mageshwari was an excellent badminton player!
Kids are always a country’s best ambassadors. And always ready for a photo op.
As if they new that our stay in Chennai was over, they all bid us farewell with some hand slapping. Bye Chennai and bye HCL. It was certainly a great experience.