So, the pre D-day finally arrived with Mika dressing up for the school carnival and then announcing that she was grown up and that we the old farts were not to attend her school function.
A few good samaritans helped finish last minute chores – Mahesh gave a quick photography lesson, Sangeeta agreed to store our mail, Suresh agreed to be the custodian of our 20 year old kinetic honda, Nitya lent a lovely pillow for Mika, Mike agreed to transport some last minute luggage and so on. The planet was conspiring to avoid last minute panic. The house handover to the landlord happened smoothly without a hitch. I started gulping my last bottle of Glenlivet and dozed off, waking up to a lovely day (3rd April 2016) realizing the D-day had actually arrived !
To avoid last minute panic, we had already rehearsed in advance to ensure that our luggage would fit into the hatchback for our drive to Chennai from where we would take off for Egypt. The loading went off smoothly.
An emotional good bye to our longtime household help Rajesh, customary selfie taken, and we are off at 7:30 am.
It is amazing how a different mind set can evoke different emotions, even in the same context. Bangalore-Chennai highway that we have driven dozens of times, suddenly started looking different with our tourist hats on. The outskirts of Kolar brought some lovely and interesting images.
Our first attempt at breakfast ended in failure as the restaurant was closed, in frustration I resorted to an unnecessary selfie.
Just as well. Fate had in store a kick-ass Paper Roast Masala dosa, Khara bath and piping hot south Indian filter coffee at Saravana Bhavan, 25 KMs ahead. SB, arguably is to Chennai what MTR is to Bangalore.
I started dozing off after breakfast, as it was a nice substitute to my usually punishing morning gym schedule. Inspired by “Darling Electronics” in a small town immediately followed by a “sharp curves” signage, I made amorous advances towards Meha which she quickly rejected, so I handed over the wheels to her and dozed off !
We decided to focus on how enterprising our 2 wheelers can be.
But this is my favorite.
I rudely woke up when Meha pointed to this “prohibition” signage.
Since I was carrying my unfinished scotch and vodka bottles in the car, (hoping to convince my father in law to join in Chennai festivities) my mind started racing to calculate the amount of bribe in case I was arrested. No such mishap happened but wait a minute … isn’t the use of “Madras” now banned ? We backed a few hundred meters to take this shot.
In Bihar, I grew up reading Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s poetry but Meha points out that Thiruvalluvar was the rock-star poet & philosopher in this part of the world and this university at Vellore duly remembers him.
Next up was Kanchipuram- the silk saree mecca – this is where we will head to for Mika’s wedding shopping a decade or so later.
At this point of time (1:30 pm) , I am desparate for my Chettinad-style Parotta and Chicken Curry and lo and behold, the lord obliges.
21st May, 1991. It’s been 25 years but I have photographic images of that night. I have gone to sleep. Papa is shaking and waking me up with the horrible news – Rajiv Gandhi, the ex-prime minister who is expected to win the current election, has been assassinated at Sriperumbudur in Tamilnadu in the middle of an election rally. I am shocked beyond belief. Even though his first term was marred by mistakes and corruption charges, Rajiv was young and brought a breath of fresh air in the cesspool of Indian politics. As we approach Sriperumbudur, the mercury shows a scorching 38 degrees and today I am determined to see his memorial. Set in an expansive and poignant setting of where he was killed, it is definitely worth a look.
We arrived in Chennai in one piece at 330 pm and headed to Diff 42 Lounge bar for the world cup final with Thara, Meha’s vivacious sister. 6 beers quickly arrived. Thara and I played a game of who would finish their quota faster. We were rooting for England (Thara is a British citizen) and it was nice that we were sufficiently inebriated by the last over to forget the last minute West Indian assault !
The next morning arrived with the maid not turning up, setting us up nicely to take our in-laws to Taj Coromandel for lunch. It is amazing what a change in scene from the drudgery of life can do, to the spirits of even seemingly incapacitated senior citizens. What joy to see them enjoy and laugh like children. This world trip has gotten to a rocking start. Keep reading our blog at manysharpbends.com !