Chennai Airport

I’m killing time trying not to fall asleep in front of this computer, waiting for my night flight.

How different it looks from the first time… when I arrived, it looked rather exotically shabby, and now, it looks very luxurious. Hm…. I’m expecting an even greater culture shock a the other end!

I got here by bus. It’s a 5 hour journey in a jam-packed bus, rucksack jammed between my legs, squeezed on a bench with 2 women and a kid and more bags. But it’s ok, it’s always like that, and it’s quite friendly.

Usually when the bus reaches a town, merchants pass the buses calling out with their wares, sweets, bowls of fruits, samosas… The lady next to me decides to buy some fruits. I’m by the window, so I reach out for the stainless steel bowl and pass it to her. She tips the fruit into a plastic bag that start to rip, I pass the bowl back out, then she passes me 50RP, which I pass out of the window…. by then the bus has started off again. The seller starts running along the bus. She doesn’t want 50RP. The lady doesn’t have change, there’s a bit of confusion, she starts picking up the ripped bag to pass it back, but by now, we’re speeding up down the main road and the seller has disappeard out of sight, leaving the fruit on the lady’s lap…. Someone passes a few bank notes to me from behind, which I pass to the lady next to me. She passes money back. It turns out somone at the back of the bus had paid for the fruit, and was passing some change in exchange for the bank note.

Off we ride.

We reach the coast road, an impressive dual carriageway, which we take the wrong side, driving towards the would-be on-coming traffic.
A few miles down, we grind to a halt. Traffic jam. There seem to be a political rally ahead, in prevision of the coming elections. Men get off to pee.

At the next junction, a policeman gets us to cross back to the other side of the dual carriageway, but not to join it: with his long stick, he motions the driver off the road onto a single lane road. A whole convoy is diverted that way, going deeper into the countryside, villagers watching and kids cheering every vehicles that passes through their village. I assume the main road was blocked for the rally, and we have to go another way.

The long column stops in the middle of nowhere. Some trucks have taken the wrong turn, and are backing their lorry to take the other direction. Passengers get on and off the bus, commenting, stretching…

Suddenly it’s dark, and there’s only one lorry ahead. Again we stop. This time it’s a level crossing. The driver gets out again, there’s some discussion. Kids arrive to sell us tea. People stretch their legs. And we’re off, and soon back onto the main road.

Amazingly, I think the bus is more or less on time.
I’m dropped off outside the airport, just need to cross a ditch, a car park, and I’m there.

I’m leaving India. I think I want to cry, but I’m still too overwhelmed to think about that.

One Comment

  1. Veronique:

    Dear Joelle

    Welcome back home! Look forward to seeing you.