Chennai Dairy

When I and Arvind reached chennai by Chennai Express on 27th May we were thinking that the plan has horrible gone bad. Earlier that week everybody was telling us that we were going to get roasted in Chennai heat. We settled down at Picnic Hotel which was closest to Chennai central. At 11:30 we ventured out. We needed a rick(auto) to go to Spencer Plaza the most visited shopping mall in Chennai. This was first encounter with "Chennai Auto". Before we took any auto we used call up friends and find out price range and then bargain. Lunch was at Noodle palace at Spencer. Soon we were joined in by Vijay and set off to Mahabalipuram in a honda city. Mahabs is one of the five UNESCO heritage sites in India. Thankfully the temparature had climbed down to 31 C due to the clouds hovering around and it was much better than what we were anticipating.
From Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram is around 50 kms from chennai and with the good roads it took us just one hour to reach. Our first stop was at Hotel Mamalla where we had hot Bajji and bonda with coconut chutney and samabar. Then we moved on to Ratha complex. Here there are Ratha's named after Pandava brothers. Most of the rathas were incomplete. There are various theories around the incomplete structures. According to one of them during the Pallava days, people used to learn sculpting here and that is why you see so many incomlete structures. One the way you there are lot of shops which sell sculptures and you can see the workers doing the job. One can also learn scultpting for few minutes to few days.
From Mahabalipuram

From the Ratha complex we went to the Arjun's Penance, which is carved magnificiently on huge rock. This is featured in most of the photos taken from Mahabalipuram. There are lot of shops selling stone carvings near this place. We went one of them the owner seemed to tell the prices some what randomly. So we decided to go to the next shop. The next thing wee see that the same guys is calling us to a different shop and we came to know that this on was his shop. The stone carvings were avaialble in 4 types of stones. Th red marble which is the costiliest, rose marble which is priced little bit less, then there was white marble on which is it is tough get a fine finish. On rose marble you can apply oil the color will look differently. Then there was black stone for which I guessed the name .. black marble. It turned out to be granite. I bought a stone carving after a hard bargain the price had started at 1600 and I managed to bring it down to 1000. Arvind and Vijay bought elephants which had carved elephants inside.. that too there were 2 elephants inside. Most of the stone carvings were of Ganesha and next plac was taken up by smiling Buddha(note that this is not same as laughing buddha). I guess ganesha was the easiest to carve as well.. as soon as there is human face it was the difficult one to do. I had to search so much for a sculpture with nice smile on it.
Last thing we saw was the Shore temple. Though worn out due to its age Shore temple seemed to be the only complete structure in Mahabs. Surroundings of shore temple were maintained well and there was cool breeze coming in. Though I had read that after Tsunami more structures were unearthed I could not visit them. In the evening we settled down at beach resort near by and discussed issue ranging from infrastructure, rain water harvesting, financial markets etc etc. We returned to Picnic hotel at 11:00 PM. The key of the Hotel room broke when Arvind was trying to open it and we had to manage with half of the key for rest of the time.
The next day was comparitively uneventful. Again we visited Spencer Plaza and bought some clothes and I managed to find some VCDs from "Planet Blue" presented by David Attenborough. Though we discussed for an hour we could not figure out what gift to be given to Lourdes. Earlier plan of attending Lourdes Engagement was ruled out. In the evening we had bonda and bajji at Woodlands drive in restaurant and later settled down at Speed.
Santhome Basilica, Chennai

On monday we moved to Pastoral Center near Santhome Basilica where Lourdes was also staying. We were meeting Lourdes after 6 years so lot of discussion happend around the days that had gone by. Lourdes wedding with Betty was at Santhome Basilica which has beutiful glass painting and wooden carvings. Reception was at the community center and tamil movie hits were being played by the band. This day was much hotter compared last two days and I was sweatting at 10:00 PM night in the open air. It was a big relief when Bangalore Mail started off from Chennai.