Wednesday, June 22

A day in Chennai

We had an early flight this morning from Hyderabad airport, to Chennai, formerly named Madras.  This was our first flight on a domestic Indian air carrier so we weren't quite sure what to expect.

As usual, there were a few surprises.  First, we were dropped off at the airport and had to show our ticket to get inside the airport.  So far, security looks promising.  Next we went to the check-in counter to get our ticket, and were told we had to run our checked baggage through the scanner first.  OK, so we were wondering what those unattended scanning machines on the side of the concourse labeled "Jet Airways Baggage Screening" were for.  So we went over there and found an attendant, who ran our checked bags through, sealed the locks with yellow plastic zip ties and wrapped the whole bag up in a security sealing tape, not unlike those used to wrap bundles of newspapers together.  Then we took our bags back to the counter, where we were issued our first class tickets, and given a pass to the club lounge.  We had a nice little breakfast, which was prepared by the ITC Sheraton we had stayed at (and catered to the airporrt) and given a call when it was time to go through security.  Separate lines for "Ladies" and "Gents" took us through metal detectors which were essentially not used, because they did the wand scanner on everyone anyway.  Had to empty my pockets and show what was in all of them.  Our hand baggage went through an xray system as well.  So far, security looked pretty decent.

We went to the boarding area, sat down and 30 seconds later our flight was called.  We stood in the mad rush of people to get on the flight, and as we got to the gate, the security guard checking boarding passes checked my bag for my bag's security tag, which I didn't have because I didn't know I needed it.  He denied me boarding and pointed away from the gate.  Everyone else had a security tag with a stamp on it, so we ran down the stairs back to security and asked the guard for such a tag, which he gave me.  Another rush back to the gate, and we were on to the Boeing 737-800. 
Jet Airways 737-800

Now we know - get your tag stamped, and make sure EVERY piece of carry-on has a tag. 

The flight was only an hour, and they served us hot breakfast during that time.  Nice.  Here's a few final shots of Hyderabad from the air and en-route to Chennai.  Since we arrived in the early morning I had no previous shots of the city from the air.

Hyderabad  Hyd Traffic

One final shot of the lake with the Buddha statue, which it turns out was made in 1986, fell off its barge during placement and only recovered 5 years ago and placed in position.
Lake  Buddha, circa 1986
More Hyderabad and some of the new IT centers being built on the outskirts
Hyd  Hyd
This is on approach to Chennai, including the first shot of the Bay of Bengal and the 2nd longest beach in the world:
Chennai  Chennai & bay of bengal
Some burned out apartment buildings:
And a new golf course under construction:
I liked that they call their airport Ground Control "Apron Control"
Apron Control

On arrival, the first class passengers got off first and had our own bus to take us to the terminal:
first class gets its own school bus
The drive to the "Fisherman's Cove" hotel/resort took more than an hour, because it's kind of off the beaten path.  It's about 25 miles outside of downtown and since it was morning rush hour and nobody goes more than 60kph because of the volume of traffic we just had to wait.  Along the way we saw many sights:

In the busiest intersection in Chennai, it took us more than 25 minutes to get through it.  An ox didn't help things but frankly didn't really hurt it either:
Ox  OX2
Some of the signs on the street are pretty funny, or at least memorable:
Sign  Sign
And the city buses sure pack 'em in:
Pack em in
You can probably see in this picture the advertisements for J2EE, .Net and Oracle 9i training.  A year's worth of training is about Rs10,000, or about $232.  Similar signs for Cisco and Microsoft Certifications also were prevalent along this road.
IT work
Cows were everywhere, hanging out on the side of the road, lying on the median, or just taking up space on the sidewalk.  Also, saw trucks carrying many live chickens which were for sale on the roadside:
Cow  Chickens

Finally we arrived at Fisherman's cove, a tropical beach resort with not much internet access but excellent restaurants and a great view.  Each of us had our own beachfront cottage for the night.  Rachel had a full-body massage and I hung around reading files and compiling notes and reading.  We're going to be busy for the next 3 days including Saturday so this was one of our few days off.  Here's life from the Fisherman's Cove, on the shore of the Bay of Bengal:
Cottage  View from Cottage

Cottage  Pool

hanging out  S


Beach  Beach  Beach

Later in the day, the Monsoon finally came, and the seas picked up and a rainbow shone.  From the cottage you could hear the waves pretty strongly all night long - nice and peaceful.
Monsoon  Rainbow

We had lunch and dinner at the pub/restaurant, had such delicacies as cream of wild mushroom soup, chicken biryani, Kingfisher ale, and lots and lots of naan.  Tomorrow it's back to work for another company review.
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