01 May - 07 May 2011 Mamallapuram

South Asia
Republic of Incredible India, the world's biggest democrazy
Tamil Nadu
Fishermen's Colony
Sri Harul Guest House +919384620173 lings6@rediffmail.com
Very nice and clean double room with private sea-view balcony for INR 650.- or US$ 14.80 for two people per night and for INR 400.- or US$ 9.10 for one person per night.
Enthusiastic, helpful and friendly staff.
Beer: 650-ml bottles of cold Kingfisher Premium Lager (5 % alc./vol.) for INR 120.- or US$ 2.70 per large bottle in the guesthouse’s Good Luck roof-top restaurant.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Sri Harul Guest House in Mamallapuram, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:

Konni: Flying with Jet Airways (“India's Finest International Airline; Giving the World a Better Choice in the Skies”) +914439893333 from Chennai aka Madras (Chennai International Airport +914422560551) via New Delhi and Brussels to Toronto/Ontario (Lester B. Pearson International Airport), visiting our two awesome grandsons Raoni and Tien (and their wonderful parents Ulrike & Chris) in the mild Canadian springtime in Ontario, dodging successfully for the small commission of only CDN$ 25.- the nonsensical new Indian visa regulations about a two-month waiting period between two consecutive visits to the world’s largest bureaucracy, flying back to India, only two weeks later, via Brussels to New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport for US$ 1,247.- per person for the complete return ticket, booked with Expedia, and reuniting with Matt in New Delhi (who travelled during the dusty South Indian summer heat, 45°C and more, by the overland route via Tirupati, Hampi and Hyderabad.
"A mother becomes a true grandmother the day she stops noticing the terrible things her children do because she is so enchanted with the wonderful things her grandchildren do..."
(Lois Wyse

Matt: Easing my loneliness by purchasing a high-speed MBlaze USB modem with SIM card from MTS India for INR 999.- or US$ 22.70, plus 30 GB usage per month for another INR 999.- or US$ 22.70, coping with the frequent "load-shedding" blackouts and catching up on admin work (email, travel blog and financials), enjoying unobstructed sea views from my balcony office, located only 30 m from the shore of the Bay of Bengal, and watching during the booster breaks very interesting spectator sports: (i) young lads who practise cricket in the ankle-deep sand, (ii) amped surfer dudes who wait for the perfect wave, akaw, (iii) local fishermen who play card games in the shade of their boats, (iv) children who frolic in the surf and (v) Western yogis who sit in front of cowshit and meditate into the setting sun, seemingly without taking notice of the giggling local kids around them.

Matt: Exploring the three almost unconnected, parallel universes of rather relaxed Mamallapuram: (i) the fishermen-colony-turned-backpackerghetto, where shy Western plumpettes, clad in pseudo-Indian home-spun cotton (organically grown in Elfland), devour after their ayurvedic full-body massage heaps of Nutella-banana pancakes (“… but not so spicy, please…”), where the flashy blackboard menus (“Western Food”) in front of the tourist restaurants are always “priceless” and where the cold Kingfishers carry very hefty price tags for the unwary (up to INR 160.- or US$ 3.60 per 650-ml bottle), (ii) the fantastic, early 8th-century CE Shore Temple, where Tamil devotees with shorn heads receive darshan, where domestic tourists from all over India pose for souvenir photos and where Kashmiri trinket sellers praise their latest knick-knack from China, and (iii) the run-of-the-mill Mamallapuram, where the rhythms of chisels chipping granite resound from dawn till dusk through the town’s dusty backlanes, where holy stray cows compete with godless goats in the street filth for choice morsels and where excellent meals of grilled fresh fish with full-on-fiery veggie curry and tomato/masala rice are available for the bargain price of only INR 40.- or US$ 0.90 per meal.

Matt: Visiting the stone-carvers’ workshop of Ranjith Sculptures & Architects +919384621899 who produces religious statues for temples all over the world and learning that Mamallapuram’s unique cave temples and gigantic open-air bas-reliefs, carved from solid blocks of granite, date back to the 5th to 9th centuries CE and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Matt: Taking the T.N.S.T.C. (Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation) bus no. 212 A from Mamallapuram’s central bus stand to the temple town of Kanchipuram (70 km, 2 hours, INR 20.- or US$ 0.45 per person), famous for its silk saris, shrines and saints - in that order.

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
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