What a delightful whirlwind of the joys and sharing and exploring and treasuring with Anna and Elise visiting us in Chennai for over two weeks through Hanukkwanzafestimas and New Year’s!
The double-time agenda included temple tours and an avant-garde dance performance, pongal and idli and dosa and elegant rooftop dining, walkabouts of Besant Nagar and Elliot’s Beach and the Theosophical Society and Pondicherry/Auroville and Mylapore (led by Storytrails and their outstanding Peacock Trail experience.) BTW, the header photo is on the Beach Promenade at Pondicherry with “Flat Stanley” on his worldwide adventures.
Of course we covered shopping at FabIndia and Kalpa Druma and Nicobar and Good Earth and Ritu Kumar and Tara Books where we met Teju Behan, a woman who rose from utter poverty to a career as musician, artist, and author; sifting through treasures of color at a neighborhood fabric stall with ever-energetic new sister Priya Venugopal followed by a trip to her tailor up a flight of stairs meant for billy goats and topped off with our first experience of chaat—street food; bargaining for footwear at a stall in Auroville where Anna masterfully played the ever-winning “walk away” card; and even negotiating with Khan, the sultan of negotiation, to buy Kashmir shawls and pashminas (okay, Sarah and I succumbed as well) in the deep caverns of Spencer Plaza, the first mall in India. (You know how much we must have overpaid since he “gifted” Sarah an extra pashmina for bringing him new customers.)
A highlight was the harrowing drive (okay, Anna and Elise found it somewhat humorous and invigorating) on that two lane obstacle course from the Mahabs down to Pondy that was then soothed with lunch at Bread and Chocolate followed by our rooftop dinner at Palais de Mahe. And kudos to Marc’s Cafe, just down the Auroville Main Road, where we trotted in and ordered three cappuccinos for takeaway. Matilda, Marc Tormo’s wife, smiled and asked me, in her lilting Barcelona accent, “You can’t sit for five minutes and enjoy your cappuccinos here?” We could and we did and indeed we enjoyed.
Of course, for anyone experiencing India for the first time, there are always the walkabouts and the discovery of the new faces and new details . . .
All in all, a holiday whirlwind of sharing with Elise and Anna through Chennai and Pondy and Auroville and the Mahabs. So, on the 14th day . . .
. . . we wish you a happy new year full of light and peace . . .