Friday, January 9, 2009

Day 3 - Mumbai to Chennai

Day 3 - Mumbai to Chennai

- Book review
- Charlotte and Asheville revisited
- Department of Amplification
- The weather

One of the suggested readings for our tour, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization by Heinrich Zimmer, published in 1946, turns out to be a revelation, explaining (at a very high level) Hinduism and Buddhism, mostly by discussions of some 67 illustrations of ancient religious art. Based on a series of lectures by the author from the early 1940s, the book was compiled from his notes and extrapolations by others, as he died in 1943. The explanations of the myths and symbols tie the macro view to what we would now say is cosmology, the scientific analysis of the origins of the universe, and conservation of energy and the big bang theory. Not too long, easy to read and understand. Highly recommended for you intellectuals out there!

The major gas company has gone on strike, and in the fifth day stations are closed and many cars are stranded, and some flights have been delayed and a few canceled. That means the transfer to the airport takes about 10 minutes instead of 30 because the bumblebees are all sitting by the side of the road. On the other hand, the transfer to the hotel from the Chennai airport takes over an hour because the congestion around the few stations open causes huge tie-ups. The good news: the strike has ended as of this afternoon and things should return to normal. The reference to Charlotte and Asheville: same thing happened to us when in NC in September and the gas lines had been disrupted by Hurricane Gustav. Meant doing some scouting when running low.

In Chennai the bumblebees are more like ladybugs, mostly yellow and some black (see pic). And, the competition in the streets include carts pulled by Brahmin bulls! To show the rate of the traffic, we passed one team and then as we got caught in traffic, they passed us. Quite a sight, even for those of us having been to China and Viet Nam.

The Sand N Sun Hotel on Juhu Beach was built in 1964 and was the first major resort hotel in the area (and now one of the smallest). We liked it for recovering from jetlag, fully contained and perfect for relaxation.

We’re now at the Green Park Hotel in Chennai, and they actually scanned the bottom of our transfer car with a mirror, wanded us as we entered the hotel (MHB in a small curtained room), plus wanded our bags. All new since 26/11, and hard to see how it would be very effective against the type of terrorists that attacked Mumbai.

We met our tour leaders, Martin and Carol in the lobby of the hotel. They arrived after a 20 hour train trip. Maybe they know something about flying in India that we don’t! However, the tour includes a flight into Mumbai near the end, we’ll see if they are on the flight….

Weather in Chennai, high 80s, breezy, and smoggy.

Ralph and MHB


  1. Hey R and MHB,
    Following your blog which I think is great! Looks like scooters are heavily used just like everywhere else in that part of the planet. When I was in Indonesia, I witnessed the ultimate in scooter travel: 5 people (2 adults and 3 kids), 2 big jugs of water balanced on a bamboo pole and assorted full plastic bags stuffed in between the people (don't know if it was for cushioning or other purpose). And traveling faster than the tour bus of course! Keep up the blog! Enjoy your travels.

  2. Ana: in truth, while the scooters were used here, Viet Nam was a lot more like what you describe, scooters used for huge transport. Here, often only one or two per scooter...R