Category Archives: Chennai

The perils of travel blogging

Some kind soul should have let Max Gogarty know what he was getting himself in for when he started a travel blog on the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog section.

Sadly, the 19-year-old blogger’s account of hitting the road in his skinny jeans did not impress the notorious tribes of the blogosphere. And 475 comments later, he has apparently decided to give the blogging a rest.

I hope at some point, young Mr Gogarty will relent and give blogging another go. If he does, he might be wise to try blogging away from the lions’ pit that is Comment is Free – at least until he’s developed “his voice” a little more. I’m sure any blog he does attempt will generate lots of hits now! I for one think travel blogs are a much a more useful resource for planning travels than glossy travel supplements because anyone’s experiences can be valuable to someone else. That was one of my motivations in starting this blog. Though, I will admit that it’s not as well written as I would like it to be! Continue reading


The good, the bad and the ugly

Flower lady

Originally uploaded by littlesaint_uk

I’ve been back for a week and during that time I’ve been reflecting on my experiences in India. Here are some of the best things about India:

1. Friendly people: People are genuinely curious and interested in hearing about your life, so it’s easy to find someone to talk to. Unlike some nationalities, they are happy to talk about sensitive things like religion and politics, which suits me fine! It’s led to some really enlightening conversations.
2. The colour: Someone told me before I went out there that India is a really colourful place. They were spot on. It’s like a walking, talking, singing, dancing rainbow. Instead of seeing billboard ads, you have advertisements painted onto walls in primary colours. Ladies’ saris cover the whole spectrum, though I doubt a white sari would survive the dust for long! Continue reading

The Long Goodbye

Banyan Tree

Originally uploaded by littlesaint_uk

My time in Chennai is nearly over. But the last 48 hours have been pretty amazing. On Thursday we had a rare opportunity for a couple of drinks. In Chennai, it’s a bit difficult to go for a quiet drink at the local bar. Strict licensing laws have restricted the numbers of places to drink – you can’t even get a drink with your meal in a restaurant!

The local bars are seedy “wine shops” dominated by men. The more female friendly alternative are the five star hotels, which serve alcohol in their restaurants and bars. So for my final night, we headed for the Residency Towers to their buffet restaurant.

We had envisaged just a small party: Charli, Shilpa and a couple of people from work. We ended up with around 12 of us, including six interns at NIE from England and Canada. After an excellent meal and several cocktails we headed to the bar, where a DJ was playing Bollywood themes to a dance beat. It was a good night.

Friday was my last full day in India. Charli and I headed for Besant Nagar to meet Shilpa. After picking up a couple of garments from Fab India we got in an auto and went to the Theosophical Society gardens. We saw a few parrots, woodpeckers and the magnificent Banyan tree – a huge tree with branches propping up the tree from the earth.

Because Charli and Shilpa had an assignment in Mylapore, we decided to eat there and went to a cafe they had sampled the previous week. Then, they went off for their assignment and I went for a very successful souvenir hunt in the Citi Centre shopping mall

.Charli and Shilpa’s assignment, a poetry evening, sounded… erm, rather interesting and eventful. I wish I had joined them and look forward to reading their account of the evening… watch this space!

Back at work

I got back to work yesterday, refreshed after the long weekend. Some other interns arrived from another agency and Shilpa started work too. I got to do an assignment, going with my colleague Riyas to a performance of folk music in a park.

Today, I went in to work to write up an article for City Express while the other interns went to the beach to report on the ongoing Pongal celebrations. I hope to join them later.

I observed some celebrations on the way to work with dozens of people walking along the road, with some of the men carrying spears in their mouths. I also saw an Ox with balloons and streamers tied to its horns and really wished that I had brought my camera with me.

Two of my articles were published in today’s edition. One was a write up of an interview with a respected British linguist. The other was a lead feature for the education supplement. I am working on another lead for that section right now!

Exploring Chennai

I have been in Chennai for more than two weeks and yet, I had only seen a bit of the city. This weekend I joined a tour and saw some of the city’s highlights.

The weekend was organised by Mandira, our rep in Chennai. Apart from me, there was three English gappers, Charli


 Temple Originally uploaded by littlesaint_uk

(who is staying with me at Usha’s), Shilpa and Sam. There are also a number of Canadians who are working in orphanages.

In the morning, I headed off to Besant Nagar to check out the Theosophical Society. Unfortunately, when I got there I found it would not open for another two hours, so I just went for a walk on Elliot’s beach and wandered round Besant Nagar. Continue reading

City Express

Now a bit about work – I have just completed my first week on City Express, which I think is what you would describe as NIE’s “metro” section.

On my first day I scored a bit of a result – I had a front page story as part of a splash on safety for women in Chennai. These stories were inspired by the events of New Year in Mumbai where two women were allegedly molested by some 70 men.

My second story (well, two stories actually) appeared in today’s issue. It was a write up of my trip to the WeCan centre for children with autism. I have made other contributions over the week like suggesting headlines and a couple of NIBs for the education page. I am now working on stories for the education page, including one that may make a lead.

Continue reading

The Weekend

I’ve just finished my first full weekend in Chennai. So far, I’ve not managed to do much sightseeing, apart from visiting the famous Pondy Bazaar on Sunday. That was quite an experience.

I set off early for the bazaar, accompanied by Sitara. We spent most of our time haggling with stall holders and managed to get some amazing bargains. Three salwars and two shirts for the – equivalent of 7GBP. I left most of the haggling to Sitara, as my one attempt to do it was absolutely disastrous!

  Continue reading