To Chennai from the back seat

My spot in the car is behind Sathya and that’s where I sat for over 700 kilometers, on our road trip to Chennai. We went by car because my passport needs to be renewed, and once you leave it at the American consulate, you can’t board a plane.

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For the entire time, we both had our cameras on our laps and traveled American style: from the comfort of an air-conditioned car, not even taking the time to stop to take pictures. If we had asked Sathya to pull over every time the scenery was interesting, the poor guy would have quit! Most of the photos were taken from a moving car, with a few exceptions of those taken while stuck in traffic. Hence, a lot of those pictures have a rearview mirror, a dashboard, a wiping blade, a glare, the occasional bird poo, our driver’s profile or even my husband’s profile in the frame. We won’t call that a flaw but an artsy “reality” photographic style!

I am still in awe at the beauty of this country. My eyes are so happy (though my ears need a vacation!)

We first went south to Hosur, then on a wonderful highway for 200 kms to Kancheepuram, then a two lane road again to Mamalapuram, where we stayed for 2 nights. The construction of the highway shaved off 3 hours to the trip, making it a 6-hour journey to Chennai. Sometimes it looks like an American highway. There is an area that reminded us of Sonora, Mc Donald’s included, if it weren’t for the sari clad side saddled riding women (click to enlarge).

People walk. A lot. Everywhere. And carrying every sorts of things.

We have become accustomed to the different ways of transporting people,

and of transporting merchandise, especially rain water reservoirs,

and sometimes of transporting people and merchandise all together.

On this trip I witnessed a new cargo: cattle. We saw dozens of such trucks and I don’t think it was for the cows’ benefit. Something tells me this is someone’s dinner in the near future.

Once you get out of the city, people dress more traditionally, especially men.  We saw a lot of men wearing dhotis and lungis.  In Bangalore, we see older men wearing them, but in the villages, or even in Chennai, men wear them regardless of age, and coolness.  Check the guy with the neon sunglasses and the man brushing his teeth.  I have no idea why he decided to brush his teeth by the side of a busy road.

Once in Tamil Nadu, you cannot not know who the Chief Minister (i.e. governor) is.  Selvi J. Jayalalithaa’s face is sprawled on thousands of billboards, and since her government has provided free school supplies to many children, her face is also on backpacks, and my guess would be, many other products.

We drove past a landfill.  The picture shows only about 1/10th of burning landfill.  It truly makes you wonder about the garbage we produce.


Talking about destruction, India has an interesting take on “eminent domain”.  If they want to build a road and need the land your house sits on, they will not destroy the entire house, just the part that is required.  In many towns bordering the highway, you see houses broken in half.  Why break the whole house if you can still use the back rooms?

But the best part is always people in their everyday life.

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7 Responses to To Chennai from the back seat

  1. Hey reading your blog is interesting! It gives us outsider’s perspective of our life!

    But hey, the cows are never dinner! They are considered very holy! They must be taking them to a animal shelter for milking and stuff..!!

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