Posts tagged "shopping"

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.

You Had Me At Hello

Every phone I’ve ever had has been a Nokia. Sure, just like other guys I may have flirted with other phones but in the end, I’d come back to the trusty old Nokia, it’s a guy thing, it’s safe and you know exactly what you’re going to get.

I once got a Sony Ericsson, but that lasted for almost all of 2 hours before I cursed myself for trying something different and got my old Nokia back out the box.

For the last few years, I’ve been using an N73, and it was pretty much perfect, but over time the OS slowed down and it took forever to get things done, even opening text messages resulted in an annoying 10 second delay!

The cynic and conspiracy theorist in me says the shocking slowdown of the Symbian S60 operating system is intentional and designed to make you change phones every few years. But I also sometimes wear tin foil hats, so what do I know?

The final straw came, however, when the main select button stopped working and defaulted to a constantly on status. This resulted in many unintentional prank calls, in one case over 50 calls was made to a single person over a one hour period!

At that point, I knew it was time to get me a new mobile.

The previous week I trawled around all the phone stores looking at various models and checking out specs. I’d like to say I’m free and easy when it comes to styling and design, but i’m not. I’m very fussy and particular. I know exactly what I like and can usually focus in on a particular model quite quickly.

I knew I wanted a phone with a full qwerty keyboard, because I’m constantly typing notes on my phone, and it had to have wi-fi built in, so it narrowed down my options a lot. At first i was looking at the new Nokia N97 with its touch screen and slide out keypad, but when I saw it in real life I was disappointed at how big it was and how unproportioned.

Eventually my eye fell on the E75 and I knew instantly that I had to have it. However, being of the internet generation I know it’s pretty stupid to shell out £275 without consulting the all knowing oracle. So over the past week, I researched what other people were saying and the result was conclusive:

Internet, it says yes

Fortunately I had quite a good week on the internet and my crappy (as in design, not content) little articles site ended up covering the cost of the phone – which is a beautiful thing because it means I can spend nearly all my wage on beer making intelligent and long term investments.

So, armed with 25000 rupees in my pocket, I headed off to the Nokia store in the labyrinth that is Spencer Plaza, where even hardened explorers have got lost and no known floor plan exists, except in the stuff of legends.

Tying a ball of string the entrance, I navigated myself to where the Nokia store lives. The conversation went something like this…

staff: hello sir, can I help you?

me: yes, I would like this e75

staff: ah, good choice sir

me: yep, I’ve read all about it

staff: *eyes glazing over as he launches into his speech* it has a 3.2 megapixel camera and comes with an 8gb memory card

me: yep, so can I…*cut off by the salesrep*

staff: it’s got bluetooth, 3g and WLAN connectivity, so you can check you emails from anywhere

me: uh huh, i just want-

staff: you will even get 3 months subscription to Nokia gps which will give you maps and directions for every major city in India

me: sure will come in handy in spencer plaza, eh? [editor: the place is a maze, I tell you]

staff: the keypad can slide out like this to reveal a full qwerty keypad

me: I know, that’s why I wanted it, can I buy it?

staff: it will play your mp3 files, mp4 videos or you can view your photos in your album

me: I know all this, can I get it!?

staff: and look sir, it has a full office suite, you can create your word docs, excel sheets and power point presentations, all on the phone!

me: I know all this, can we start with the formalities?

staff: sir, this is a true business phone that will keep you connected 24 hours a day.

me: dude! *I shouted, getting completely exasperated*

staff: yessir?

Me: dude, *my face and voice both relax* you had me at hello.

But he didn’t get the joke, I did eventually get the phone though.

And I don’t think I’ve made a bad decision. Infact, this blog entry you’ve just read (or at least scanned) was written, edited and uploaded…all on the Nokia E75.