Leaving India, Delhi, and beyond. .

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 01, 2006

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Needless to say, we got into delhi far behind schedule, catching a ride, three in a rickshaw plus gear in a downpour to Pahar ganj, where the german and I found a room to share, our Israeli friend finding a room across the way for less, and with a television, though as we found out later, prone to flooding.
All in all quite easy and symetrical.
Delhi is very easy to negotiate, with a modern subway, the train ticket office is clearly marked, and so I had my ticket to Chennai aboard the Tamil Nadu Express for the next night, at 10:30, arriving in the former Madras in the morning of the day after next. About a 36 hour trip or so, so I booked 2nd class AC coach, in which they serve you food, and there are even privacy curtains. An ideal time to get caught up on one's reading. . .

This was the first train ride since I stepped on to the train to Goa, so many months ago, all culture-shocked and apprehensive.
It was easy to find my car, a computer printout of all the names on the side facilitated that quite nicely, and after a 10 rupee tip to the car man, I was allowed to smoke a cigarette or ten while hanging out of the window.
When I tried this at the station in Bhopal, stepping off the train to light up, two uniformed police cornered me in the train demanding a fine of 200 rupees. As I had just woken up, I did not even think to argue, and so after that I worked out a deal with the attendant whereby we would shoot the shit in broken English and Hindi as I had my smoke out the door.
Another first in India. The first time I had to grease the palm of a police officer with baksheesh. I could have argued, but the train was about to leave, so I did not want to be stuck somewhere working it all out as my transport went on without me.
Crooked bastards. .
Arriving in Chennai, The climate was beautiful, and so was the city. Palm trees everywhere, and the sun beaming down. I found a room in of all places "The Bachelor Mansion." The rickshaw driver had taken me, of course, to a much more expensive place, as the commission is much more for them at such places, and everything in Chennai runs this way. No one is your friend in Chennai, my friend, as I learned quickly. Even someone who seems to only want to talk eventually asks you for money. Don't give it.
I spent most of my time in Chennai walking around, looking for what I could find. For 150 rupes, my simple room had it's own Indian style bathroom, a decent bed, and television, with, get this--an English language movie channel! First tv in months, also with the BBC world news service.
The first thing I found out is that nothing has really changed, except that Israel is bombing the shit out of lebanon, hizbollah is bombing the shit
out of israel, and so on. When will these little schoolyard bullies ever learn? Bully #1: "I won't stop until he stops!" Bully #2: "well, I won't stop until HE stops!!" "you started it!!" "Did not!" Did too!!" etc. etc. and so on, ad infinitum.. So funny that the most obvious is what people refuse to see. . Well, I guess He who lives by the sword. . etc. . Buncha crap. Nothing ever changes, I guess.

Chennai is a lovely city, all in all, full of greenery, and easy to negotiate, full of classic architecture, and with a beach that is literally about half a
mile wide, and endlessly long. Very Indian touristy, but I found it to be quite the opposite of the pit that all those people told me it was. Had I known,
I would have stayed a bit longer, but as it is, my visa is up on the first, and I fly out on the 31st. .
South India is a wonderful place, no matter what North Indians will tell you, and they will certainly tell you a lot. Believe nothing of what anyone says.

Though, perhaps this is a good rule for life itself, don't listen to what others tell you, go and experience it for yourself. You may just be pleasantly surprised.
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