(This was originally posted to my Tumblr account. May add more photos later on.)
Two Mondays ago, on March 9th, my family flew to Chennai, India with a stopover in London. The stopover, which was supposed to be only two hours, ended up becoming four, and I had stayed up on the first leg watching The Book of Life and reading Neil Gaiman.That was awesome.
I packed an extra companion for myself, to deal with the stresses of traveling and the surprises that accompany international journeys, along with my laptop for writing and reading ebooks like Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning. He was quite happy to come, although he got dropped a few times.
This is my Hiccup doll, smiling at the Heathrow airport. He enjoyed the trip, though he had to spend a good portion of it in my purse or in my grandparents’ place, and he missed my Toothless plushie. I would have brought the latter if my family hadn’t laughed at Hiccup so much and implied that I was too old for dolls. With that said, we both enjoyed quite a bit, like this image of Ganesha the elephant god.
The city of Chennai is different in that everyone drives crazy on the roads and yet we see few accidents despite the smaller amount of signals. People park where they can find space and there are billboards everywhere. Chennai has definitely become more industrialized, displaying more shops and corporations than I remember seeing in 2011.
There are still a lot of stray dogs, though, including a friendly one that napped outside my grandparents’ apartment. Often he would sleep on the pavements, to wake up when the cars threatened to run over him. He didn’t even snarl or snap.
My grandparents took us to the Mamallapuram monuments, as well as a beach resort where one can find elusive white people hiding from the Indian populaces. We had lunch there, strolled the beach and watched fisherman work from tiny boats, using large nets. I even found a garden construction that resembled a Shel Silverstein creature, and he probably has his story. I just haven’t found it yet.
Hiccup didn’t get to see any of that, however; I was worried about losing him. He spent most of his time napping with me, and I napped because of the jet lag and the heat. It was comfy to sleep with him.
On the last day, my family had to eat lunch with relatives I hadn’t seen in a while, including several cousins and aunts. My mom was sick, as was my younger brother, so my two older siblings stayed behind to take care of them and I represented the five of us over a lunch of spicy Indian and Western food, talking about business school and the book I had published. As recompense, I got a sizzling hot fudge sundae on a Korean barbecue plate. It was worth it.
The trip back was quite eventful; my younger brother misplaced his passport in the Chennai airport, and we frantically searched for it. Security helped, and a lady found it lying on the floor. After that we made our flight; I wrote a short story about imperialism and butterflies while listening to Jhumpa Lahiri. Hiccup remained in my arms, though we didn’t take any selfies because it was too dark and my legs kept cramping. I do NOT recommend listening to audiobooks when trying to sleep because they will keep you awake.
It was quite a trip, quite memorable and inspirational. Hiccup is back with Toothless and they are happier together; I’m catching up on fanfiction that I missed and starting the second semester. And I am going to figure out how to write outside of an airplane, to channel the creative energies that got stimulated.
As a last picture, here is a notebook display that I saw at a shop. It was quite tempting, but I thought against it. After all, it would’ve barely fit into my overstuffed suitcase. Maybe next time, if my purse is lighter.