On the roads in Chennai

It started when four of us (Ravi, Christina, Donston and me-Liz) revved into Chennai city after a loong drive from Bangalore which began at 4 am!
Ravi was the only person in the car who had been to the Chennai office before and he was hands down our navigator and Donston, our pilot. He was telling us that getting to the serviced apartment, Lotus, at Burkit road on T.Nagar where we were to stay, was easy to reach from the office which we came across en route.

Unfortunately for Ravi and us, didn’t take into account the metro construction that was underway and therefore many important roads were made one ways or were completely dug up. One of the very few roads that Ravi knew were also part of this construction work. Also our collective networks told us that GPS was not working!!!
So, what do a travel weary foursome, unfamiliar with Chennai roads do? We did what all good tourists in a new city do – we stopped and asked passersby or shop keepers for help. For some reason (or maybe depending on the people we asked), all responses we got were in Tamil.
Ravi was the only one who knew the language, albeit broken, so that helped.
So this was how the conversation went,
Ravi: Donston go on this road, it seems familiar, I’m sure I was here the last time I was in Chennai (last time was a year ago!)
Donston: Ok, no problem.
(After a little while on the road, which seemed to be never ending)
Ravi: Wait, are we on the right road? Did anyone see the board Guindy,Saidapet or T.Nagar?
Donston: Dude, I only see the road when I’m driving.
Christina & Liz from the back: Umm… Can we ask someone? (notice they didn’t answer the question!)
Ravi: Ok, slow down Donston. (Donston slows down the car)
Ravi: (In Tamil to a passerby) Brother, can you guide me to Saidapet?
Passerby: Nera Po. Left cut pann. (Go straight, take a left). Cut and dry instructions and he was on his way, his good deed for the day all done.
And so we went straight and took a left, into a road that didn’t at all look familiar to Ravi (remember he had been to this place/ area before!)
Ravi: I remember that our office is at Manappakam and from there we have to pass Guindy, Saidapet to reach T. Nagar. Our serviced apartment, Lotus, is there somewhere.
Everyone we asked for directions continued saying the same – Nera Po.
We continued to Nera Po and somehow reached Lotus. We were golden! :):)
By then, thanks to RTGL (Ravi – The Guiding Light!) Guindy, Saidapet and T.Nagar were words we added to our vocabulary!

After one productive and longish day at the office, we were deciding what to do for dinner. Christina mentioned she wanted to meet up with a friend and left; That left the three of us. Ravi said, a friend of his was joining us for dinner. We then got ready for our commuting adventure to Lotus 🙂  Thanks to RTGL, we reached T. Nagar via Saidapet :). From here on the search was on for Burkit road where the Lotus was located.
We entered Burkit road and I said, “Lotus is to our right” and we all started looking to our right, we reached the end of Burkit road, but no Lotus. We did a round about turn and came back on the same road and sure enough we found Lotus on the right hand side!!! Ha ha ha….[what had happened was – we entered Burkit road from the opposite side of the road instead of the usual way and were focused on looking to our right!]. Again we had a good laugh at me, because I was the one that said “right”, right!. :):)
We quickly freshened up and left our laptops at Lotus. We were going the Thalapakatti way for dinner.
Dinner was awesome! It was a little spicier than I was used to, so I asked the guys, “Hey! Can we have icecreams?”. Since we had nothing better to do, everyone said yes.
Arvinth, Ravi’s friend agreed to be our GPS and Donston our everlovin Ronin :), pointed the car in the required direction and we zoomed away. We soon reached a signage that said ” Turn right, Turn left”. Kept us pondering for a while. After some serious discussion on the topic we all agreed that like everyone else here in India, we start driving keeping to the left. Once we start speeding and see space to the right we move there and keep zigzagging wherever there is space! Like how you do in chess. So we guessed the board meant that! That was one “major” challenge diverted. :):)

We were soon rolling on the wide, pothole free and humps free Chennai roads.
A very welcome change from the Bangalore ones!

Arvinth was pointing out places of interest within the city and suddenly he said Hyatt hotel. I remembered that Rachna was there . I asked the guys to stop and check if she wanted to join us for icecreams. We tried calling her many times but no luck (remember network issues!). We continued on our way.After driving for a bit, we stopped at a signal, Ravi said “Man, where are all the icecream shops”? And sure enough, we had stopped right in front of one and looking for one!!! 🙂 Unfortunately for us, it was after 10.30 PM they were closing down for the day. We laughed at ourselves rather loudly. We all have a good sense of humor you know 🙂
Arvinth the GPS, then said he would take us to another one. On our way there we came across a “Naturals” brand signage. All of us love the Naturals brand icecream here in Bangalore and Donston happily wanted to pull over. He’d already decided in his head that he wanted the tender coconut flavor. As we reached closer, we saw it was a unisex hair salon!!!
We “Oh-my-god-ded” all over the place and continued on our quest for icecream.

It was also at this time Arvinth with a smirk on his face, decided to tell us that Chennai had two Hyatts! Turns out that we had earlier stopped in front of the wrong Hyatt and were furiously calling Rachna! :):) We-ll, someone else also had a laugh at our expense! Didn’t I say we have a sense of humor?!

The radio was on and we were listening to “The night train with Ruby Ann”. She was playing classic rock and we soon heard the Doors playing “Roadhouse Blues” and that set the mood for us. While we were simply enjoying the drive and the music, Arvinth suddenly said take a left here. And just like that we were at the beach! On the beach! We collectively wowwed! Donston stopped the car close by and we spilled out in a hurry.

For a set of people from landlocked Bangalore, it was magical! The sound of the waves, the breeze which had a bite that sent goosebumps all over your limbs, silence all around, everyone in their own thoughts. Yeah, we’ve seen beaches before, but right at that point, we were in the zone! All of this inspired Donston to breakout into a song. Eric Clapton no less! Seriously, the guy has an amazing singing voice! Next time you see Donston, make him SING!

Soon it was time to head back. As we took a U turn to get back, we spied on an icecream joint! There was a chorus of “FINALLY” and we were at the shop choosing our favorite flavors. We “bask-ed in Robbins” for a bit! 🙂
Replete with the deliciousness of the cold treat and the blissfulness we achieved at the beach, we headed back.
And yeah, thanks to our human GPS Arvinth, we reached Lotus within 45 minutes.:):)
All in a day’s work I’d say.

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