Monday, January 17, 2005
Nancy and our guide Mercy in the back of our new apartment complex in Chennai.
January 17, 2005
Marty and I returned on Sunday from our pre-assignment trip to Chennai. Above is a picture of our new digs, a 4 bedroom apartment which we found on our first day house-hunting. Several other Ford expats have lived there. It is in the "Boat Club" area of Chennai, which is right on the Adyar River (both good and bad, the bad being the mosquitoes in summer!)
Our trip took us through Delhi both coming and going, and not much has changed there in the 23 years since my last visit. I think they may have tiled the the baggage area (it was a dirt floor as I recall). But the smog, crowds, dirt, and begging have not changed much. Quite a contrast to Chennai, which is quite green and bright, although equally crazy when it comes to traffic. By the time we left, we were pretty well adjusted to the congestion---cars, trucks, motorbikes, bicycles, auto-rickshaws, and the occasional cow all weaving in and out of what are lanes in name only! Marty said it reminded him of his dad's driving and he felt right at home......
On the first day while I was at the plant in Chengalpattu (about 45 minutes south of Chennai), Marty went sightseeing. He had an opportunity to see some of the damage from the recent tsunami in the coastal area, including boats washed ashore and temporary shelters for the fishermen who lost their homes. The main beach area in the city had already been cleaned up by the time we arrived. Fortunately, Chennai was mostly spared the ravages of the tsunami, unlike the areas further to the south.
We were able to hook up with Marty's sister's friend from graduate school, who runs the local English newspaper (with a circulation of over 1 million) and his wife, as well as another acquaintance from Detroit who is Chennai born and who is back in the city for about six months to get married (he hasn't met his future wife yet, but seems fully confident it will happen!). So we were able to get some local perspectives on life in Chennai which will be very helpful.