Throughout my time in India, whenever I told people I was going to visit Chennai (formerly Madras), they had the same reaction: “Why on Earth would you want to do that?!”

Chennai is unbearably hot and humid for most of the year and doesn’t have a great many tourist attractions to distract from this punishing heat. And yet this was actually my third visit. The only way I can explain this is by letting on that one of my bestest friends, Sunaina, with whom I had worked in London, now lives in Chennai with her husband Jaideep. They have also got a little one whom I had not met so a visit was required.

Jaideep and Sunaina ready to go “Out-Out”

I shall spare you the details of our initial catch-up and will skip straight to the first thing of anecdotal interest to a neutral party.

Jaideep is a keen biker and, knowing that I’m a crotch-rocket enthusiast also, had arranged for us, along with a couple of his friends, to go for a sunrise ride along the coastal road to the south of Chennai. I used his Triumph bike while he switched to an Aprilla.

The weather gods were kind to us and, as we left the main conurbation, the sun started its daily climb to the zenith, decked in shimmering gold.

It’s hard to concentrate on the road ahead when this is in your periforal vision
A Triumph of modern engineering

In my book, any sunrise activities must be followed immediately by caffeine, so we stopped off for a milky, sugary, delicious cup of tea by the side of the road close to the temple that was to be the southernmost point of our ride before the return leg.

The street vendor and his copper friend, Big Urn

On arrival at the Shore Temple, an 8th century granite construction overlooking the Bay of Bengal, I took several minutes to attempt a potentially arty photo before resorting to my more usual “standing in front of stuff” technique.

Neither thorns not man-made fences can hold beauty at bay
Purple jeans by Levis, motorcycle helmet by Arai, temple by 8th century Indian architects

Most of my time was spent catching up with friends and getting to know this little one:

Discussing Nietzsche and Kierkegaard

She was very shy initially but seemed to have accepted me by the time I left. Perhaps because I assembled her pink, plastic car for her to ride around in.

Jobs don’t last as long as friendships
Lady Penelope takes charge if the driving

I flew from Chennai to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and spent 10 days of bliss there that will feature in the next few posts. On the way back I stopped off in Chennai for another couple of days of “friending” and coffee.

Sri Lanka coming soon!


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