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Rolling Solo

INDIA | Monday, 31 October 2016 | Views [492]

Sunday, October 30, 2016

My second full day, and what a day it was. It was to be my first day alone, and the way it started should have been a sign to how the day was going to go. So the previous day (Saturday), housekeeping at my hotel had left me three Diwali treats. I didn't eat them that day and they sat over night. I went to eat them in the morning and something did not taste right. I'm not sure how they were supposed to taste, but I didn't like any of them. I thought it would be rude to throw them in the trash in case house keeping noticed, so I thought it would be a great idea to flush them down the toilet. The two smaller treats flushed no problem. The third one was... problematic. It seems the third one was too big to be flushed down the toilet. It just wouldn't go down, no matter how many times I flushed. I was at an impasse because I did not want to call room service about this, and I was not about to stick my hands in the toilet. Then after about 15 minutes of pondering my ordeal and thinking of how I was going to explain this to room service, I remembered I had brought some plastic spoons with me! Why? I have no idea, but I am sure glad I did. So I get out one of these plastic spoons and scoop this Diwali treat partially out of the toilet - enough to where I can start cutting it into pieces with the spoon. Thankfully, the toilet was not very deep and my hand did not touch the water at all. I ended up cutting the treat into three or four pieces to get it to flush. My day was off to a great start.

I wore my passport holder under my shirt today. I feel really stupid wearing it. And it sticks out through my shirt, so it's obvious I'm wearing something. It also makes me look like I have a belly. After getting ready, I decided to call an Uber, instead of taking a cab this time, and head out to San Thome Cathedral. Even with Google Maps, my driver got lost! What should have been a 4.3 kilometer (2.67 miles) drive, ended up being just over a 7 kilometer (4.36 miles) drive! To top it off, he dropped me off in the wrong place. He only spoke a few phrases in English. He must have said, "Uber good, no cash" five or six times. When I would say something, he would just smile and nod and say, "yes". So after being dropped in the wrong place, maybe a block or two away from where I needed to be, I got to play frogger by crossing the streets. I mentioned previously how traffic does not stop, and it really doesn't. I probably waited for five minutes before I saw what I felt was a comfortable gap between cars and motorcycles for me to cross. I thought I was going to have a panic attack because my heart was beating so fast. I finally make it to this Cathedral and it is nothing like what I expected. I thought it would be a bit secluded from traffic and be somewhat quiet. But nope, it wasn't at all. I was a bit timid to go in the Cathedral at first. Especially since I thought I would have to take off my shoes. I walked around it a few times before I stopped a younger Indian couple and asked them if I have to take off my shoes. They told me only in certain places. So I finally go in and just sit there and pray and get lost in my thoughts for a while. When I was ready to go, I saw another younger Indian couple and tried to talk to them. I must have freaked them out because they looked super scared. It freaked me out that I freaked them out. I think I approached too fast because I was nervous. Who knows. I Just won't do that again. After some small talk, I tried asking them some places they recommend checking out (I was just trying to get a conversation going), and they said "no, we have plans". I think they thought I was asking them to come with me?

I didn't have cell service at the Cathedral so I couldn't request an Uber. I hailed an auto and took it to Marina Beach. I think the fare was around 70 Rupees, and I only had a 100 Rupee bill readily available. I would have had to dig deep in my pockets and count a lot of bills to get exact cash. I asked him if he had change for the 100 and he told me "no change". I ended up just giving him the 100. The extra 30 Rupees comes out to like 45 cents, and just wasn't worth my time to argue with him. Once I got to Marina Beach, it felt like all eyes were on me. I was getting a lot of looks and they weren't friendly looks. The bright side is that even the women were looking at me. The darker side of that bright side is that they seemed to be taken. The way the guys looked at me seems to be very aggressive. Even when I smiled and said hi to them, they didn't reciprocate. The women usually did reciprocate. I just walked the entire length of the beach and it's a super long beach. One of the world's largest, I think. I felt like I was walking the gallows or something with the looks I was getting. A couple people came up to me on my walk. Two young boys came and asked where I was from and said they were collecting foreign coins and asked if I had any to give them. I didn't, but they were probably lying anyway. Some homeless people came up to me as well and they weren't speaking in English. I would just say "no" and keep walking. I eventually found a bit of a secluded bench area near a police watch station. I sat there for a while and just took in all the sights. I felt I would be left alone if I sat near the police, and I was. The beach is pretty chaotic. It also kind of smelled like human waste.

After the beach, I requested an Uber and headed to Fort St George. I was again dropped in a bit of a wrong place, but I lucked out this time. It was kind of secluded and there was a white couple who looked lost and were standing on the sidewalk near where I was dropped off. I asked if they spoke English and it turns out they were from England. I can't remember the city they were from, but their names were Alex and Caroline. They didn't know where the entrance to the fort was either. There was what looked like a military guard post about a hundred feet away, so I approached the post very cautiously and asked where the entrance to the fort was. They told me the fort was off limits but I can go the museum down the road. I walked to the museum with the English couple and got to know them a bit. They were doing a tour of south India. Once we got to the museum, I was in heaven. There must have been nearly 20 women police officers guarding the entrance! All were so gorgeous! Maybe it's because my eyes were wide open, but they were all friendly and smiley with me. I should have talked to them and maybe gotten a picture with them, but I didn't. I still had to go through security and pay 200 Rupees to enter. I guess my privilege had run out. The fort was actually kind of boring and small, but I still took the time to read everything there.

After leaving the fort, I again played frogger to cross the street to what looked like a park. There was a fountain and a walking path. It looked tranquil. Once I crossed the street and got to the fountain, I decided to take a picture of it. As I'm taking a picture, I just happened to turn around and there was a guy standing directly behind me, despite there being lots of open space. My adrenaline starts pumping and I'm ready to defend myself if needed. Nothing happened, but I think the guy was trying to open my backpack. I told him to watch it and then I kept walking. I went for a walk on the walking paths and came across more women police officers. Again, they were all friendly and smiley with me. And again, I didn't really talk to them. I also saw a younger couple staring at me, but not aggressively. It seemed to be more out of curiosity. I think they had never seen a white person before. I said hi to them and they said hi back. I probably should have tried talking to them, but I didn't want to have another bad encounter. By this time, it's already after 5pm and not long until it gets dark outside. I notice my cell phone battery has about 8 percent left because I've been without service a lot of the day. So I'm walking around trying to find service and I think I stumbled into the edge of a slum. Right away everyone stopped what they were doing to look at me. There were some kids lighting off fireworks and shooting them at each other, too. I'm talking the stuff that goes boom. Some kids approached me, but none were aggressive. I saw a group of guys heading my way and they looked aggressive. So I turned around and started walking the way I came. I ended up walking basically back to the fort before I finally found cell service. I requested an Uber, but I kept losing cell service. I had no idea where he was and I started to worry. Finally I saw a car pulled over on the other side of the street. He looked at me and probably assumed I was the one he as looking for. He rolled down his window and put out his index finger, which I understood to mean "wait one minute". He was kind enough to pull a U-turn so I wouldn't have to cross the street through all that traffic. He spoke English somewhat well - enough to converse a bit. I decided to go back to my hotel before it got dark and before my phone died. My phone was at 1 percent by the time I reached the hotel! My senses were completely overwhelmed today and I passed out for a few hours within a few minutes of getting back.

Tags: chennai, fort st george, india, marina beach, san thome cathedral, tamil nadu


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