Today we flew from Madurai to Chennai, known for much of its life as Madras. It is always hard to move on from a place as fascinating as Madurai. There is always more to see, to hear, to taste. This maybe why I have always returned to India and I hope someday to come back to Sri Meenakshi Temple and Madurai.
One thing I have learned about travel in India, is that the tour company is always anxious to get you checked out and off to the airport. Sometimes it seems much earlier than necessary. But unexpected traffic or impromptu wedding celebrations have a way of undermining a tight schedule so today we agreed to pack up and make our way. Today traffic was light, the wedding parties had parted, and Jos took a shortcut so our arrival at the airport was much too early. On the up side, I think that our dear driver Jos was ready to drive home to Cochin and was looking forward to waving goodbye to his charges.
En route we were treated to the entertainment of a mahout taking his elephant to the lake for a bath. It was a lovely photo-op a good reason for the early departure.
On arrival at the airport we each said our goodbyes to Jos and followed the company representative through the security check. It was to early to check in so we found a seat and waited. The airports that we passed through in India this trip were what you wish an airport should be. Bright and modern with all the luxuries. It was not hard to spend time in them.
Our flight aboard Jet Airways was comfortable and it wasn't long before we arrived in Chennai. I had not been to Chennai for many years, but Ben had told me this hotel, once the site of a famous film studio, was high on his list of places to stay. Welcome to the Park Hotel!
We had time to check in and then joined Mr Rudi, our new driver, for a quick tour of the old part of Chennai called Fort St. George and a visit to Marina Beach. Families in India who are lucky enough to live near the sea enjoy evening gatherings at the beach. The cool breeze must be the main draw for adults, but the kids come to ride the merry go round, to have fresh roasted corn or colourful ices (we would call them slushies), and to laugh a lot and enjoy this special family time. It is easy to say thousands of people joined us on Marina Beach that evening. It was a lovely welcome to Chennai.