Originally, I was planning to maybe bypass Chennai, or just spend a day or two. But after getting in touch with Ultralister Ashok Daniel (also a good friend of my friend Graham), I was persuaded into spending a bit more time there. And I was very glad I did.
When I saw the movie Chennai Express, I had really hoped Chennai would have lots of spontaneous dancing. Unfortunately, it didn’t, but it still was neat.
Chennai is a big city, but more mellow than Delhi or Mumbai. It is incredibly hot and humid in the summer, and it’s already summer, or almost. We got around by Ash’s AC’d car (thankfully...just miserable otherwise) and spent a lot of time geeking out on running, watching running movies, frequenting various cafes, going to malls (yep!). We watched a movie entirely in Hindi (I figured there would be subtitles; I was wrong, but got a lot of what was happening anyway). We visited a bunch of temples and churches.
During my visit, my stomach was a wreck. I tried to avoid spicy foods, but I still felt horrendous. I was the guest who needed to take a nap, who spent a lot of time just lying around, being mellow.
We took day trips to see the various temples and churches, and Ash drove around pointing out monuments and buildings of significance. We ate dinner with his parents sometimes, I tried to understand cricket (I don’t think I’ll ever get it), and we just chilled out. Ash is on break before he moves up to Delhi to work as a lawyer, so we both had fun chilling out.
Going to Chennai reminded me that not everything about travel is seeing tons of stuff and moving around; it’s really about meeting people, finding your home when you are not home, and remembering what it is you love.
Every morning, we got up at a ridiculous hour of 5am or so and headed out for runs. Even before dawn, the beachfront was crowded with walkers and runners and oh yeah, some traffic. It was hot and humid and to be honest, quite miserable at times. But it was also quite wonderful.
After our runs, we’d collapse in the car, drinking lots of water, and it just felt good to have a running friend, something I haven’t really had since I was home. So I’m grateful for that.
Chennai is quite spread out; it’s best to visit with a local, who will make sure you stay air conditioned while you see the important sights.