Weekends in Chennai

Like the vast majority of the salaried world, I tend to look forward to the weekends and believe that they end far too soon. In the last few months most of my expat network have left, so there have been no more trips outside the city, crazy house parties or even nights out in the clubs.

However, that’s not to say I’m not enjoying myself, I seem to have got myself in to a bit of a weekend routine, and yep, it keeps me happy 🙂

Since I don’t rise till about 10ish on weekdays, if I took any more of a lie in at the weekends I’d miss it altogether! The first thing I have to take care of is my laundry. I recently found out that there is no hot cycle on my washing machine, which would explain why my t-shirts would come out just as funky as they went in. With that in mind, I now soak all my clothes in very hot water before putting them in the washing machine.

I will have to take a photo of the colour of the water after soaking my clothes for 15 minutes, it’s like they become a magnet for all the pollution and dust in this city.

Once the laundry is complete I head over to a nice little coffee shop, imaginatively named Coffee World. Think Starbucks without the hefty prices – though the prices are pretty steep for Chennai. I then have my weekly bitch / moan session with a fellow expat where we get everything off our chest that’s annoyed us or wound us up in the last seven days 😀 It’s remarkably therapeutic!

Once the counselling catch up is over I go back and do the weekly grocery shopping in the supermarket at the end of the road. I say supermarket but the trollies are the size of ‘kid’ trollies in some of the supermarkets in England!

Incredibly I bumped in to another foreigner this weekend. I don’t know what it is, but whenever I see other foreigners walking around I feel compelled to ignore them on the basis that “you’re foreign, what’s so special about that”. It’s hard to explain why. One reason I guess is that because everyone is always moving on, it becomes tiresome making friendships that are going to last months.

So as I was saying, I bumped in to a foreigner this weekend. For reasons unknown, the Gods of Fate, Justice and Give a Guy a Break were not smiling upon me and instead of a cute girl next door type, the foreigner was a strapping great big Norwegian viking guy. The aisles are barely big enough for one person to squeeze down, so to ignore another white person when you are in such close proximity would just be rude 🙂

I said hello, introduced myself and went through the usual motions when you talk to a new foreigner, how long have you been here, what are you doing, where are you staying, how long are you planning to stay for etc.

So once again in Chennai, I end up with another guys number. It’s very tiresome you know!

In the absence of any parties at the moment, it’s usually a case of a cold beer, pizza and something on TV for my Saturday nights. It’s not so bad though as I get all the Premiership matches, even the 3pm ones which you don’t get in England.

This weekend, my local wine shop (ironically named because it doesn’t sell wine) didn’t have any ‘normal’ beer, instead they had concocted something distilled from a fine blend of paint stripper and gasoline. You know something is astray when it says on the label that the beer is “not less than 6%”! After half a glass of the stuff I was hammered. Ouch!

A quick word about the wine shops though. They are truly desperate places frequented by the fringes of society and whose sole service is to provide liquor with the highest alcohol content possible. Just like in England when you walk past a club at chucking out time and you’ll see women falling out of tops and guys rolling around the floor together, India has old men lying on the roadside passed out in the vicinity of the wine shop. If you are particularly unfortunate you will catch an eyeful of far more than you want to see of an old man! They don’t seem to wear underwear here!

Sundays in Chennai is my favourite. There is a noticeable reduction in the number of people and traffic and a kind of eerie calm falls over the city, especially in the non-commercial areas. Even the dogs seem to understand that it’s a Sunday and they keep quiet.

Sundays can be spent relaxing, reading, watching football, playing computer games or going to the shopping malls. This Sunday I went to the beach with a friend, but that didn’t last long as the thunderclouds descended and the heavens opened. Fortunately there is a big shopping mall nearby which on the outside is modeled on a 19th century French chateaux…I guess you really need to see it to believe it.

When you go to a shopping mall the peacefulness of the lazy Sunday afternoon is broken. India has a new consumer driven middle class and they are making the most of it by buying branded goods, designer clothes and generally propping up the economy during the global slowdown.

One of my favourite shops in India is Landmark, which is kind of a cross between a Virgin Megastore (or whatever they are called now) and a Waterstones. I have an inability to go in to a Landmark shop and come out empty handed.

To start off with, they have more books than Amazon and at prices that make second hand book shops look pricey. A normal novel will cost anything from £2 to £5 which is ridiculously cheap. I’ve also got hooked on VCD’s, which are like DVD’s but they come on two discs and at a fraction of the price, I can pick up the latest Hollywood films for about £3 for three movies! As such, my library and movie collection is rapidly expanding 🙂

This weekend I bought a couple of classics, Gullivar’s Travels and Robinson Crusoe (which claims to be the first ever novel). I’ve been reading some novels by Jasper Fforde (which I’ll probably talk about in another post), but it’s really piqued my interest in older novels – I might even have to tackle Jane Eyre and Great Expectations (joke: what are you reading? oh, great expectations. Is it any good? It’s not what I was hoping for) next!

Well, that pretty much sums up a typical weekend at the moment. It’s all very lazy and I really should do some more work on the sites that earn me money, maybe I’ll get some motivation to do that some day.

2 Comments Weekends in Chennai

  1. Tom

    I’ve read Fforde’s The Well Of Lost Plots and can recommend it. Also, if you haven’t read it already, Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife is brilliant.

    Reply

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