Archive for November, 2008

Trains and Spaceships!

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

I took a couple of days off and boarded a 15 hour overnight train to Kerala. It was in the middle of this journey that I learnt of the attacks in Mumbai.

As I lay in my bunk I reflected on the fact I was one of two Westeners on the train and the other was an American. Some of the passengers on the train were pilgrims, dressed all in black. I’m sure they were harmless, but as I lay in my little bunk, in the dark, I remembered the stares we had attracted as they past though our carriage and convinced myself they were coming to get me imminently.

Not the best nights sleep ever.

The return journey was much more pleasant and we got talking to a group of young space engineers, but the reality of recent events hit home when I saw armed soldiers at Chennai central station.


All Aboard!

All Aboard!

It’s not all palm trees & swimming pools!

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Monsoon has hit with a vengeance. It really is torrential and doesn’t stop, all the roads are really flooded as there isnt a drainage system to cope with the downpour. All schools have been closed as a result.

A cyclone has been moving across the state, with flooding causing 28 deaths one night, much of the city remains flooded.

Still, better than being in cold London.

Names not down, you’re not coming in . . .

Monday, November 24th, 2008

So far Ram and I have been turned away twice from hotel bars. I’m really not used to getting turned away from places – it’s been the biggest culture shock so far.

Bear in mind that hotel bars are the only place to go out. The reason? Because its “couples only”. The “but we are a couple” line doesn’t work and has probably been used a million times before.

Chennai isn’t overflowing with women, its not even dripping. Maybe what I need to do is take a leaf out of Dimitri’s book . .

cooking – the art or practice of preparing food; cookery.

Monday, November 24th, 2008

I have never been especially known for my cullinary skills and in the three weeks that Ram and I have been here we havent cooked once yet.

The closest I have come to cooking was heating up some tomato soup when I was ill. Take away food is so cheap that its just too easy to do every single night.

But, the take away meals have a large amount of oil and so I have decided that enough is enough, I’ve come here to change my ways, to learn new things, so it is definitely time..


…for me to get my own cook.

Indian Body Language

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

No, not an obscure Booka Shade remix, certain mannerisms that continue to throw me, no matter how many times I see them.

If you shake your head at me, years of Western living tells me you are saying ‘No’, I know you mean yes, but its instinctive.

And two men walking down the street holding hands will always have certain connotations.

This week I will be mostly…

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

The week’s been a bit shit. Literally. Both Ram and I have been struck down with the infamous ‘Delhi Belly’.

On the positive side, by starving ourselves our taste buds have become super sensitive – plain toast has never tasted so good and lemonade, oh my god!

Indian roads

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Indian roads are officially the most dangerous in the world.

Last year road accidents claimed more than 130,000 lives – overtaking China, which has seen fatalities drop to fewer than 90,000, and prompting a government review into traffic safety that until now has been best summed up by local drivers as “good horns, good brakes, good luck”. 

So with that in mind, I popped to the shops and bought myself a bicycle. 


I like to ride my bicycle...

I like to ride my bicycle...

Indian accent

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

I’ve still got a way to go in terms of understanding the Indian accent. The Tamil language is extremely fast, so when English is spoken it is equally so. A candidate yesterday spoke at such speed that I realiesed he could actually be speaking Tamil and I wouldn’t realise. He seemed to take a breath for air about every four minutes.

So gong to the Pharmacy to pick up some medics for Ram, I was ready for broken, fast English, but yet again I was in for a surprise, when a squeaky voiced midget, who can barely see over the counter served me.

I was offered some advice by an American who lives here, he said that I should over pronounce the consonants at the end of each word. I have tried this in the privacy of my home, but I am worried if I try in public, I may sound a bit like . .

Leather Bar

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Having not really seen another Western face for the last two weeks and people staring at me in the street, it was strange to be in a Hotel bar with other Westerners – I found myself staring at them!

All aboard!

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

We considered getting the bus to the office for a change, but it looked a bit on the busy side, so we gave it a miss.

Room for one more?

Room for one more?


Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Powercuts are a daily occurrence. They usually kick in at about 11am for a couple of hours, although last night we also had one at about 11pm.

Not surprising really, considering how much power we use in lighting the garden alone!

Garden at night

Where's Wally?


Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

We decided to walk to lunch today – which is a first. As we walk down the dusty road huge buses speed by, millimeters from us. The air is filled with the constant beeping of horns (beep if you are turning, beep if you are behind someone, beep if you want to overtake, beep whilst you overtake, beep just because you love it). 

I’ve grown used to seeing cows lazily walking in the middle of the road, tuk tuks weaving in and out of traffic or people pulling up on the road side to relieve themselves.

But what caught be by surprise was naked-just-been-for-a-wash-in-a-pond-jump-out-bushes-man.

Nice to meet you too.




End of the first week!

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

So I have been in India a week today and am loving it. I have had many meetings with Amnet and although the recruitment process is going to be difficult, I am confident they will will be able to get a good team together.

As yet I don’t think I have a real feel for Chennai. We are driven everywhere so I am haven’t got my bearings as much as I would if i was walking or getting public transport. Being driven everywhere and living in relative luxury also means that the Chennai I am experiencing is a world away from the experience of most Indians. Hopefully in coming weeks I will get to wander about more in the city.

Still, it’s Sunday, a well deserved day off as we had more meetings yesterday and the weather is great (although storms are due next week)

This is the view from my room.

View from my room

View from my room


Saturday, November 8th, 2008

The food out here is soooo cheap. Ram and I are eating out twice a day, for under a fiver.

I haven’t quite mastered the art of making balls of rice and curry, so I am resorting to using a spoon and my left hand. I am the only one in the restaurant doing this, but I am also the only non-indian, so i dont think its frowned on.

Below is our lunch, the rice is served on a banana leaf and we wash the meal down with the sweetest orange juice you have ever tasted – Tropicana cant touch it. All for about £1.  Ram hasnt come close to finish his yet. Ever.

Thali Lunch

Thali Lunch

First day . .

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

The journey here was painless, Sassi (the driver) picked me up at the airport and I arrived at the house in the early hours of Sunday morning.

It’s about midday now, there isnt a cloud in the sky – and this is monsoon season!

Not the most interesting of first posts on a blog, but I’ll let the photo do the talking (yes it is as nice as it looks)

The Pool

The Pool