Thursday, 24 July 2008

Down by the sea

Damn, there are a lot of white people in this town and they’re mostly French. Not that’s a bad thing I mean it could be worse, they could all be Germans or even worse Australians…G’day mate!….O the horror!

Mamallapurum is a small seaside town with a few temples, rock carvings and oodles of souvenir shops. It’s also a main centre for stone work and the resulting statues. Well all those temple statues have to come from somewhere.

I’m in a hotel near the beach staffed by pushy and slightly annoying staff. The room is a little overpriced but it has a tv (for the weekend sporting action). The hotel also has a swimming pool! I’ll be staying here for a long weekend before getting back on the road.

In the early hours of Friday morning the electrical power to my room disappeared and didn’t return. So, as the oppressive temperature of the now stagnant air closed in around me, my pores relaxed and the floodgates opened. Waking up later in the morning with the bed sheet clinging to my back wasn’t the best start to my 1st full day here. 90 minutes later the power was back on.

Question: how many Indians does it take to flip a trip switch?

Answer: only one but it takes him a while to get really motivated.

Once refreshed by a cold shower (this is a good thing) I was off on a bimble.

The 1st place was down by the shore, it was a temple and the name of the temple was…come on…work it out…that’s right, the shore temple! It was small but most enjoyable to walk around and the setting was just about right.

On my way to the next place of interest just outside of town I had an enjoyable chat with a local stone merchant who was overseeing the refurbishment of his small shop cum gallery. He has friends in England, Carshalton to be exact but has been unable to visit them as the British home office has refused him a visa 3 times. So instead we talked about his travels in Finland, Sweden, Germany and a week’s holiday in Majorca that he would rather forget about (it was his 1st experience of seeing working class brits enjoying their “two weeks in the sun” holiday).

Back on the bimble, I passed several stone workshops (well it was more like 40 of them) and I stopped outside one of them and went mmmmm! Do I really need an 6ft high stone statue of a semi naked dancing girl? To be honest the answer was yes! However I can’t see my parents wanting to have it outside their house in a quiet cul-de-sac of Buckingham for several years. Maybe I’ll just not tell them till after it turns up and just say “what, you never got the email?”

Anyway, coming back to my senses (or did I?) I ended up at the 5 Rathas. Not to sure of what a Ratha was but confident in my ability to be able to count up to five. Well they’re made of stone, carved out of larger stone and there was five of them plus a cow and an elephant.

Finally deciding that I really didn’t feel the need to visit Chennai or Madras I brought a plane ticket to somewhere remote with lots of small islands and a dive centre that‘s open. All I need now is for the monsoon to be nice and quiet for a week or two.

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