Living in India

Wow, first blog post from India! I’ve been here for 3 days now and I’m still not dead. And as an added bonus I still haven’t caught any weird and wonderful tropical disease that turns your face inside out, makes your eyeballs boil and your skin fall off – but hey, there’s still time.

So far I haven’t seen too much of Chennai (the city where I’m staying), but my first impressions are that it is utter chaos and completely mad. Outside it is a whole world away from placid, surburban London. Inside you just completely forget that you are in India.

The second night I was here, I needed to get a mouse for my laptop. No problem, Aravind (the person with whom I’m staying with) said, we’ll go out to the computer shop now and get one. This was fine, hop in the car, buy mouse, drive home. Or so thought I.

What he had failed to mention was that we would take a motorbike to the shop. Oh, and don’t worry about little things like helmets and leathers. They are not much use anyway when you travel at 4 million mph on the wrong side of the road while looking the other way.

If anyone has ever been to Oxford Street in London over the Christmas period can begin to understand the volume of people that I’m talking about. But now put all those people in cars, motorbikes, pushbikes, and rickshaws. Everyone’s going different directions, there’s no right of way, no traffic lights and no roundabouts.

Right of way goes to whoever is biggest and which way the flow of traffic is going. This gets interesting at crossroads where the only way to get across is sometimes to weave between the traffic coming at you from the left to right.

To make it a little more interesting (so far it has been easy), you also have pedestrians wondering aimlessly through the traffic and even people taking cows through the streets of the city. Wonderful 🙂

So back to the motorbike journey. It’s an acquired skill to tailgate the vehicle infront of you by mere inches while cutting across various other vehicles. Don’t worry about using your indicators or checking the mirrors – they’re not there! Simply lean on your horn before you make any manoeuvre such as turning left, right, slowing down, speeding up, changing gear…actually whenever you start the engine, just lean on the horn until you have finished your journey.

Another thing about India is that it’s a fusion (not my choice of words!) of old and new. You can be driving through a really run down area and slap bang in the middle will be the most luxurious hotel you’ve ever come across. Or it might be a Ford car dealership or some corporate offices like FedEx or Citigroup.

I’m going to be setting up a new area on this site to start posting photo’s that I’m taking – just need to find time.

Finally, it might surprise some people to know that the food here is absolutely fantastic, really nice and very filling! And no meat in sight! It’s all vegatarian.

Having a great time in Chennai 🙂

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