Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Arriving in Chennai (Madras)

The baggage claim area in Chennai is mildly chaotic. People crowd into the space in front of the baggage belts while boxes, bags and crates tumble down the conveyor and plop on the belt...sometimes. About the half the stuff crashes onto the floor and is heaved back on the belt by the cooperative waiting passengers. I retreated from the dizzying mob to the rear; the man standing next to me fumbled his prized bottle of brandy - oops,it broke on the floor. He was visibly upset and soon joined by three other men, also distraught. The booze splashed all over the place and people were walking through it. The whole place reeked.

Someone abandoned a luggage cart just in front of me. It didn't roll. As carts are in short supply, I watched in amusement as one person after another grabbed the cart with that "Lucky the last cart!" look, only to find out it was a dud. Zouzou started making friends and struck up a conversation with an Emirates employee who told her most of our fellow passengers were workers in Dubai, on leave and returning home to India - thus all the luggage.

For an hour we stood and watched the belt until Zouzou's alligator green Tumi suitcase finally arrived. Sticking out like a sore thumb, it emerged from the dark and rode upright, gleaming and shiny, gliding along surrounded by the baling wire wrapped bags and taped up boxes. It was almost the last piece unloaded and almost as tall as Zouzou. We rolled ourselves out of the gate to be confronted by a wall of heat and humidity and a sea of Indians waving signs; it's dark and hard to see but it looked like at least a hundred signs were being waggled and bobbled in front of us. We started to search and luckily very quickly saw our names; our bags were removed from our custody and we were herded through the throngs to a waiting area. Horns were honking constantly, people shouted, brakes screeched; it was a noise nightmare and my tinnitus roared. We asked our greeter if something had happened. "Why?" he asked, head moving in the famous Indian head waggle, sort of back and forth, up and down, all at the same time.  "All the horns honking!", we replied. He laughed and says, "It's India. We drive with our horns".

So begins our noisy stay in Chennai (formerly Madras), fourth largest city in India.

1 comment:

  1. O.K. I give up. I'm going to start at the beginning.
    You must be home to have written all these posts in one day. I forgot when you were coming home.