All good travel blog begins with a picture of the hotel. I stayed at Taj Connemara and with the corporate rate of USD 180 a night for a standard room. I have no clue if it was a good deal or a very good deal.
Right outside the hotel, while waiting for the transportation, I took a random picture of a statue and some flowers.
The city of Chennai does not look too different from the rest of the developing countries in the region. One time I saw one of these yellow colored vehicle shot pass the red light, attempted a right turn, and into the lanes of vehicles that have started to move. How brave (and silly really)! Everything stopped at the moment when it was hit (lightly) by a motorcyclist. I wouldn’t want to be the passenger inside that yellow thingy.
The road planning in Chennai is strange, to say the least. I was told that some buildings have protruded into the roads (see below). I have seen roads that are cut off, broken, and have become dead ends. I have seen barriers placed in the middle of the roads removing lanes for reasons that are beyond me (OK, some barriers I think are there to reduce speed). I have seen cars U-turning on parts of the roads that have no middle section (and usually unpaved).
Look closer to the picture below and you should see the words “Sound Horn” at the back of the truck. That’s right. Most road users sound their horns perpetually throughout the journey. It is hard to imagine but that’s what they do. It is way beyond the Indonesian’s friendly mentality of “Hello, I am behind you”. It is more like, “Move bugger, or I will hit you!”.
Chennai is a typical example of what happens when the private sectors have outpaced the government infrastructure. When I was told that the railway station as shown in the picture is only a few years old, I was shocked. The stations look more like a set of rundown newspaper factories along the street.
You can almost assess the progress of the community by looking at their public transportation. Jakarta in recent years has added a fleet of new air conditioned bus that shuttles through the city centre via the dedicated bus lane. I see lots of buses like below. These are the good ones, by the way.
Our bank’s in-source IT subsidiary resides in the “IT Corridor”. I was told that due to the growth of the technology sector, some major cities are saturated with IT companies. Chennai is currently developing an area that houses many technology companies. Again, the buildings are nice, the roads that connect to them are not. Neither is the area around them.
It is hard to describe the driving habits in one paragraph. Perhaps in two words: chaotically aggressive. Every road user squeezes so closely onto one another that you can literally wind down the window and have a handshake with the person from another car. You can see the screws of the number plates of the buses. Cars swing from one side to another to create space around them. And once in a while, you will be stopped by a bunch of road users …
… or stopped by cows.
There are herds of cows along the road. When these city cows cross the road, the locals are expert enough to zoom pass them. And did I say there were lots of motorbikes in Chennai?
At times I do miss those good old days of working in the line of IT. But right now, I am happy to represent the business. Oh, check this out. The scenery of what it is like right outside a private building in Chennai.
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