Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Randomness in Chennai (and a bit of Bangalore)

Admittedly, I'm overdue on posting, I know. Safe to say it's been a bit busy. Currently in between projects at Eureka, I've done some meandering around Chennai, taken a spur-of-the-moment road trip to Bangalore with friends, and a few things in between. Plenty of chai and coffee, dosas and chutneys, mutton (read: goat, in this case) biryani, and some shwarma here and there. Oh, eesh, and at one point, goat brain and sparrow. They truly shouldn't have told me it was goat brain *before* my trying it, though I do think I should get extra points for still trying it. Props on the spicing, but the texture was just... bah. The sparrow was entirely safe and tasty, though I felt about as guilty as I did the first time I tried lamb. 

In any case, the photos. Scenes around Chennai and a late night stop for biryani en route to Bangalore, etc. Ah, and a recent front page of the Chennai edition of The Hindu, attempting one of the things I most hate to see: numbering and ranking intelligence. A topic for another day.

On the lighter side of this weekend, have to say, I found myself pulling up to a huge beach house turned private Tamil club and after-party, complete with DJs, dance floor, fog machine, and private bar. Chennai closes at 11 only for those who don't know where to go next - and my DJ friend knew where to go. I watched in awe and amazement; absolutely blew my mind. It was like a cultural treasure-trove in the midst of an otherwise notoriously conservative society.... Don't worry, Mom, I was too busy gawking at the underworld Tamil party scene to get into any trouble. Don't worry about the non-mehndi-ed hand, either; I just lacked grace one morning getting off the bus. Things happen. :P 


Friday, May 11, 2012

Ladies' Night, x3

As the clerk of the next-door grocery shop commented the other day, many of the girls from the hostel have by now left for summer break, some replaced by largely unknown newcomers and some to return in June or July when classes recommence. In the meantime, we’ll be maintaining a small but solid group of three: Ritika (who dates back to the Holi celebration), my roommate Sumedha, and myself. Alas, we had no choice but to see off the last of the former group, Akhila, as she flew back to Bombay on Monday – but not without a three-day sendoff bash.

In Chennai, “ladies night” is seemingly ubiquitous. Pick a night of the week, and you’ll likely be able to find several bars, clubs, lounges, or restaurants offering free entry and free drinks for women. The free entry, of course, is not out of the norm, as cover fees are (so I hear) pretty much nonexistent for we feminine folk. Next along the line of cover charges are couples, trailed by stags, who often seem to either pay rather exorbitant entrance fees or be denied entirely unless accompanied by a female or, in some cases, a couple. Quite the “clubbing” culture, eh?

Akhila’s sendoff weekend began at the nearby Park hotel, where we’d earlier discovered a worthy sushi platter at 601, the house restaurant whose falafel has since won my lasting appreciation. Across the lobby, we raised our glasses to the start of the weekend in Leather Bar on Friday night. Soon joined by Sumedha, we wandered across the parking lot to Pasha’s to fulfill the girls’ entreaty for dancing before heading back to the hostel. Note: Chennai pretty much closes down by 11pm. Sad but true.

Snacking, sleeping, lunching, chatting, then ultimately to Blend to meet up with other friends on Saturday. Snacking, sleeping, lunching, chatting, and a few whirlwind errands, then it was off to 10 Downing Street for “Bollywood Night” and a midnight birthday dinner/celebration on Sunday. I tell ya, it’s not every day you sit at a table of 8, all donned in bright pink paper Barbie caps (men and women alike, Ritika-ordained), passing around chicken and birthday cake before breaking into a cappella Bollywood songs, rounded off by "Leaving on a Jet Plane."

And really, who doesn’t enjoy ending an evening with a cup of chai, masala khakra, and a bit of roof climbing? We certainly do.