Saturday, January 3, 2009

Encounters Series - Tall, Tan and Spaced Out at the Triplicane, Chennai

“Hey, my friend. What country you from?”

It had been raining for the last few days in Chennai, the capital city in the state of Tamil Nadu at the southernmost tip of India. When the sun finally peeked its lazy head, I took a walk in slippers and shorts – a get up I never wear outdoors even when in Manila. Most times, I am always decent and presentable. But I have learned my lesson the previous days in Chennai. I got drenched in the heavy rains, and my rubber shoes and clothes were still being dried by my airconditioning at my hotel suite. My skin had been tanned almost to a crisp brown, but my legs were pasty white – a big contrast to the Tamils who were dark dark brown and round faced. I initially felt naked, but I soon got the hang of it after visiting the post office and checking out some shops along Triplicane’s High Road.

It had become a habit. Checking out some of the guesthouses and hotels listed in the Lonely Planet. I always feel I have to see some of them, especially the highly recommended budget dwellings.

I was walking along this side street - the Vallabha Agraharam Street - when this really tall and thin lady approached me. She had an obtuse facies - a far-way look and a lopsided, albeit conservative smile. I have noticed her standing motionless on my way to Broadlands. On my way back, she extended her hand and I gave her a beaming smile.

“What country you are,” she asked again.

“I am from the Philippines.” She gave me a blank stare. “Manila,” I added. Like most encounters in Bangladesh and India, they looked baffled. Is there such a country? They seemed to be thinking.

“Take my photo,” she asked. Gladly.

And I have been so used to this request. Most Indian nationals – children and adults alike - wanted their photos taken by tourists, just as long as you show them their photo after the session. It is always a pleasure not having to ask people permission to take their photos. I took her photo then showed her the end-product. Then I said my goodbye.

“Give me buy food,” she quipped in fragmented English.

I should have expected that. This has also been a common scenario, but you see, I’ve had several encounters of people bamboozling me into giving them money that they don’t even deserve. I shook my hand and said, “No money.” I smiled politely. And left.

I saw an internet café and took my refuge away from her who seemed to be following me around. This is along Vallabha Agraharam street, where I found Broadlands Lodge and Paradise Guesthouse - two highly recommended budget hotels from the Lonely Planet. I shall post their photos one of these days. They looked comfy – and a lot cheaper than my Hotel Anitha – an executive business hotel along the High Street.

Chennai as marked with an encircled X at the bottom - the blue coloured state at the tip of India.

Tamil Nadu is the second most industrialized state in India (probably after Mumbai’s Maharashtra state) – although looking around Triplicane, it doesn’t seem so. Not by leaps and bounds. I felt like I was at the wrong part of town. It felt like my rubber shoes got the sordid part of the deal. LOL

But I have also learned to take things in stride. I was so far away from home and in my last 6 weeks of travel, I have never seen a single Filipino soul.

But there's one thing I realized, it wasn't such a lonely planet.

This is the Eye in the Sky.


Sendhilvel said...

Hey all

u see not in a insiside of triplicane That was a rich and decent areas.then the people's are
decently approach to foreigners..
Triplicane produces IT candidates in


Sendhilvel said...

that u had a wrong thing about this girl

eye in the sky said...


I did not INVENT the events that I narrated in this post.

The lady in the photo ASKED me that her photos be taken (though it was never my intention to photograph her) - then after I showed her the captured photograph, she said, "Give me money... buy food!" What was erroneous with my "interpretation"? It's crystal clear. There are no riddles there! And my impression was she kinda looked "spaced out" - it was my impression because I met her; you did not!

The road leading to the beach, at that time, were siphoning excrements ("feces") from a septic tank - and they were just thrown out the city road - what IMPRESSION did you want me to have exactly? That it was a hygienic practice?

I was describing MY EXPERIENCE, and no one is gonna refute that because this was NOT fiction.

I have no doubt in mind that Triplicane produces some of India's brightest minds and IT experts. Indians after all are very smart. I have visited Chennai 4x already so I am not exactly completely ignorant about this city. I like the people mostly, compared to the places up north (from Mumbai to Delhi to Kolkata to Rajasthan to Gorakhpur. People in south India are more relaxed compared to the northerners, but I am not gonna lie about a specific experience that I was just narrating straight from my travel.

I do wish you well, Senthil. My dear friend is Indian - a Kashmiri, so you can be sure I am not bigoted about your people. I just tell my stories the way they happened.

And yes, I got all your 6 comments - loudly and clearly. :->

Anonymous said...

Her name is Vela. I first met her in 1997 when she must have been about eight or nine years old. And yes, you described well how she is. I still see here 18 years later.

eye in the sky said...

She seems like a gentle soul so I wish her well. :) Thanks for the additional information. It's nice knowing stories from people you meet on travels. Gives one a deeper sense of the trip.