Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Tuesday 29th - Retail Therapy

We sleep surprisingly well considering that we are on dry land and wake up to a bright sunny day in Chennai. Breakfast is a South Indian buffet with all sorts of pancake and doughnut type things as well as steel bowls to put your gravy in. This is actually better than it sounds but we make the mistake of ordering tea, which arrives with a frothy head on it and which is much worse than you could possibly imagine.

Today's tasks include sorting out a car for a tour tomorrow and buying a map so we can be certain of where we are going. Hotel reception recommend a supermarket just along the street as a good place to buy one. We swallow this advice hook, line and sinker and take a stroll. The supermarket sells nearly everything that you could think of except maps. R is delighted with the range of dal, lentils, flours and is seen here stripping the shelves bare.

Sense prevails and we come out with tissues and a bottle of water and turn left on a whim in search of a bookshop. Every 50 yards or so the same auto driver pulls up alongside offering us a one hour tour of the city. He just will not take no for an answer. We turn left again then double back, cross two main roads and think that we have given him the slip. Not a chance. He reappears and keeps this up for a further ten minutes or so then suddenly drives away in a cloud of blue smoke. Stalker Number One is replaced by a bloke with better English who offers to take us back to our hotel for 20 rupees. He is still there when we find a bookshop and a map so D asks if his offer is still on. "Oh yes sir" We get in and immediately the chat starts about stopping at a shop. D tells him that even by Chennai standards he is a disgrace to his profession and that we have no intention of getting out of his auto till we are at the hotel. Amazingly this tactic works.

We have a lunch time date today with legendary IndiaMike guru Nick-H who very kindly picks us up at the hotel and drives us to a restaurant on the Mylapore Tank. He is not phased by driving in India at all. Respect!!  After a pleasant lunch we take a stroll around the neighbourhood while Nick points out features of interest. When he suggests a silk shop R goes into full anti-tout mode and has to be reminded that we are among friends. The shop is quite amazing and both Nick and R had great fun fingering the merchandise and cooing over the colours. R even bought a couple of things.

We moved on to look at the temple. Scottish feet are not acclimatised to going bare on hot stones but we were able to find some shady areas. There has recently been a major festival and some of the idols were still visible.  R was taken with this chap who Nick thought might be one of the baddies. After a visit to a cookware shop it was time to head back to the hotel where Nick was able to demonstrate that some people like frothy tea. We had a really enjoyable afternoon.

A word from our sponsors

Nick also recommended the restaurant in our hotel for supper so we nipped next door for a quick beer first. We discovered a different bar where the music was a bit less intrusive but the beer was more expensive. Refreshed we returned to base and enjoyed an excellent vegetarian supper which cost less than £4 for more than we could eat.

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