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200311-India-20-03

Repairing the fishing nets

The plan is to have another lazy morning by the pool and leave here for Chennai at around 2pm. Breakfast by the Bay of Bengal again. I go over the top with four (!) fried eggs (my excuse was that they were small…) The rest of the morning is spent by the pool, or in it, with lime sodas, books and sunbathing. Much as I hate to admit it, I have enjoyed the day or two of poolside lazing, but am now getting totally bored and want to go and do “stuff”. We (I) finish with lunch in the beach restaurant. Spicy fish curry – nooooo problems. Then we check out and meet Subu again. The hotel seems to have only one or two tapes, a selection of greatest hits including “Save all your kisses for me” and “I am sailing”.

Subu has remembered the fishing village and we pull in to a side road shortly after leaving the hotel. It’s just a road leading down to the beach with ordinary modest houses and a few fishermen repairing nets but no other signs of activity. A bit disappointing after the image I had of a “typical” fishing village. When I take a picture of drying fish a men wants money and complains at the Rs.10 I give him.

It’s a short drive back to Chennai, only about 25-30kms. In Chennai Subu takes us to the exclusive-looking “emporium”. It’s full of tourist stuff but we’re here with a purpose: to buy a wedding present for Deep and Nandita. We settle on a table-cloth. Tourist duties fulfilled, I ask Subu to take us somewhere where we can buy dhotis. A government shop is the place. This time Subu comes into the shop with us to help with the buying and trying on. Foreigners get a 30% discount here, off the already low prices. The floors are almost empty, with counters round the walls of the large rooms. As a bonus we “do” a Gandhi outside. I try to buy a yellow lighter from a kiosk. The vendor must be completely dim-witted as he pulls out every single lighter except the yellow one I point at, but then Subu calls me and it turns out he has already bought me one (I did ask him earlier where I might be able to buy a lighter) He must be thinking I’m totally helpless seeing the kiosk owner pulling out all his lighters!

The hotel is just round the corner. We say bye to Subu, check in and, after checking on tomorrow morning’s transfer to the station, make our way to the pool for another bit of R&R. There isn’t really much else to do and as we have a 5am start tomorrow we’re not in the mood to go wandering around Chennai. The pool is busier than at Mahabalipuram, several Indian guests swimming lanes and paddling. When mosquitoes appear we flee inside to the hotel bar. I have another whiskey sour, with Johnnie Walker rather than Indian whiskey this time. Outside the sky turns black and it starts to rain.

Later, after a kip in our room, we come downstairs for dinner. A snug table (apart from the air-co which is on high) overlooking the outside pool on one side and the dance floor on the other. An Indian trio, consisting of keyboard, guitar/male singer and female singer, are set up at one end of the room. We sit down and order a drink. The trio kicks off with “Like a rhinestone cowboy”. Other classics follow, Elvis, Abba, etc. All performed in a country and western style. It’s not done tongue in cheek at all. A moment worth bottling if you could! Guess what? Best intentions on the spice front have gone out the window. The waiter’s reply to my request for pickles with the poppadums is an incredulous “pickull? PICKULL?!?”