Tuesday, 28 January 2014

A first full of Rupees

I'm lucky to finally get a chance to be in Chennai, where I'll be taking part in some training with my new team.

Again, we were fortunate enough to fly business class - but with Emirates this time.  The lounge wasn't quite in the same class as the Virgin Lounge, but the food was nice (VC champers that I managed to resist until just after noon) and you boarded the plane straight from the lounge, so no queueing up with the plebs!

It was my first time on an A380 for the first leg to Dubai. It was the quietest and and comfiest flight I've ever been on, mainly helped by the built-in seat massage for my poor back - very nice!  Food was also better than Virgin and despite concerns that it might be a dry flight, it was anything but - if fact I think they forgot to load the tonic on, if the strength of my G&T was anything to go by.

The stop-over in Dubai was a bit of a non-event - just enough time to figure out that everything was really expensive (except Alcohol, which again thought it might be dry, but no) and then back on a plane (777 this time) for the second to Chennai.

I managed to get a little sleep on the second flight, despite having to actually sit next to another human being (in business class as well, I mean what's that all about?!?) who insisted on switching his light on and off all flight. Note to Emirates - eye masks on every flight please!

So arriving in India was a bit of shock from the shiny loveliness of Dubai.  The airport just looked like it was falling apart and there was lots of old machinery and luggage containers left to rot in piles along the perimeter.  After being picked up by a driver for the trip to the hotel it was just a case of hanging on, hoping we didn't wipe out a motorbike (helmets appear to be an afterthought and kids are also OK, as long as Mum has a good grip on the child and the back of the bike) or us being wiped out by a bus. No real rules while driving signals are an afterthought, undertaking and use of the horn obligatory.  Thing is it just seems to be self-regulating and actually work! Oh and it was 21 degrees at 9am as well.

We are staying at the ITC Grand Chola, which is just a vast marbled edifice of opulence.  I have never stayed somewhere so big and with so many staff - all of which are so incredibly polite and go out of their way to to help.  It takes about 10 minutes to get from my room to the lobby through various other sub-lobbies filled with amazing furniture and statues, but no people.
The huge marble staircase in the hotel lobby

View over the 4 swimming pools
One of the many items of furniture just dotted around the hotel, as you do...
My room is relatively big, but the bathroom is huge and is entirely marbled. Bit of a concern that I might kill myself when I flooded it after a shower, but as you get about 12 towels, I managed to  clear most of the water up.
My marble-cladded bathroom of loveliness.  Flood cleared up

Mmmmm super comfy bed
So after some brekkie (first introduction to spicy food at breakfast was interesting) and a little sleep, I went down to check out one of the three swimming pools.  Unfortunately I didn't see the no swimming sign and got shouted at for going in(doing some chlorine thing, apparently).

Lunch was another exploration in Asian cuisine (go for the dish with the lowest proportion of chillies!) and after the gym (curry sweats on first day, not nice!!) it was time to turn in for the day.
Lunch (especially for Sammy) From top left: fried chicked, spiced lamb, cheese, deep fried lentils for starters.  In the centre is main course of shredded beef, fish, shredded pork, more chicken.  Yum
Unfortunately I don't think we will get any time to do any site seeing, but if I do,I'll post up the piccies for everyone.

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