Kali, incense, and major construction!

Trip Start May 31, 2007
Trip End May 20, 2008

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Flag of India  ,
Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Took an overnight plane from Mauritius to Chennai.  Most parts of the airport were closed when I arrived at 2:30am so my row mate and I, a guy I sat next to on the plane who had just gotten out of surgery in Mauritius for an emergency appendectomy, found seats and killed the time talking about numerology and palm reading...his talents not mine!  He was a marine engineer who was working on a boat passing by Mauritius about 10 days ago when a sharp pain hit him and soon enough was emergency airlifted via helicopter to the island.  Talk about luck...another day and his ship would have been out of helicopter range and he might have died.  We both agreed that divine intervention or perhaps something similar was at play...a common theme of my travels these days.  I received an email from the nice french couple that I had met in my hotel and later on the beach, saying that when I left them on the beach I had been followed by a local guy that caused some alarm to the lady renting chairs on the beach.  The police were notified and told to keep an eye on me...all without my knowing.  I was approached by a local guy who wanted to sell me stuff, paint my picture, have a beer etc...each time I politely refused, another different offer came my way.  I definitively said that I wasn't interested close to my hotel and sent him on his way.  How to know if this was the guy that caused concern back in Perryberre on the beach? 

Anyway, the airport was absolutely filled to the brim with others waiting on their flights in Chennai.  In the middle of the night even!  The morning came and I checked into my flight on Kingfisher airways.  Unbelievable service, was intercepted in line by a rep who took charge of my bags, checked me in while standing in line and guided through the entire check in process.  WOW...so efficient and what service...in India as well.  Setting new standards from how I experienced travel last year in this region.

My airport pickup didn't arrive so I arranged a pre-paid taxi and set off for what turned out to be about an hour drive to Fort Cochin from the airport....incessant honking, near collisions with rickshaws, bikers, mopeds and the like all the way.  Finally I put on my IPOD just to cut the honking out of my ears and nodded off to sleep.  Talk about a crazy explosion of holiday construction, tower, apartments, condominium resorts, huge billboards announcing a new shopping mall coming soon...I was thinking to myself, "and I left a tropical paradise for this?"  When I woke up, the streets had turned to narrow roads and the character factor had gone significantly up as we entered the more historical area of town.

Checked into my home stay, got a good whiff of incense, and basically collapsed for about 5 hours.  Wandered a bit after I woke up, did some essentials, ATM, water, bookstore (found my India guide!) and had masala chai and veggie samosas at the Teahouse a local place that could have been right in San Fran!  Globalization.
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