Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Angels Descending On Chennai (Madras)

Now let me first apologize for the harsh tone of my previous blog, but if for anything, that was a valid observation to a city that practices "hostile" welcome to foreigners. In this city, foreigners are treated like milking cows; not paying guests. But let me change the tone of this observation. On my last day in Chennai, I heard a familiar service blaring from my backwindow. A mass - in Tamil! Like a possessed animal, I took a fast shower then sought the origin of the verbal tussle. Now, I have to admit that I am among the most unreligious persons in a Catholic nation like the Philippines, but somehow, I wanted to hear mass. There was also something bugging me. I couldn't get a train ticket that will supposedly take me from Delhi to Gorakhpur - the Indian-Nepali border! And what would this trip be like without a glance of Kathmandu?

To cut a long story short, the Tamil priest decided to meet me - seeing as I was the obvious misfit. Something clicked! He then invited me for a coffee - which later extended into "breakfast"! I told him I had to leave soon coz I was trying to catch the 8AM opening of the foreign tickets booth at the Chennai Egmore Station - which "may" have a "quota ticket" for a foreigner like me. This particular quota you see, is only available in major train stations - like Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai. I tried the IRC station in Trichy for nought.

Father Mahesh suddenly offered his help! We would visit his travel agent and find a solution. After a long wait, "magic" finally came. By 8:40 PM tomorrow, I shall be on my A/C sleeper to Gorakhpur - and shall I use "God willing"? Father Mahesh and his friend, Father Jones (they grew up together in a little town in Pondicherry, and they became priests together) waited and negotiated for me. And I was just too embarassed - and grateful. Talk about being "sent from the heavens".

Later that day, I flew a 2 hour-40 minute flight to the capital, Delhi. Now, my knees are weak and my eyes droop, but my heart is filled with gratitude and wonderment. Some blessings are brought by earth-bound angels. In this case, Fathers Mahesh and Jones - who gave me a tight hug as I bade them goodbye! I felt sad I was leaving Chennai despite early impressions!

See? Sometimes, it's the people that makes a place magical.

Thanks, Fathers! This is the Eye in the Sky!

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