Chennai in 100 hours

Marina Beach, Chennai

The Chennai Connection

After working for more than eleven years at Fluor in Gurgaon, during COVID, in May 2021, I joined KBR Chennai on a work-from-home model. My project gradually started, and slowly the workload increased. In May 2022, I had a client meeting for which I was required to travel to the Chennai office. I planned to travel on the 15-May-22 evening and return by the 19-May-22 night, meaning I would be in Chennai for almost 100 hrs.

More than the Client meeting, I was concerned about my stay in Chennai. I had been there previously a couple of times during my engineering days at Bangalore in the late 90s. During those days, I faced some language difficulties and food concerns. However, since the City has grown considerably over the last two decades and is more cosmopolitan now, it should be easier this time, I reassured myself.

Chennai – A Gateway to the South India

Chennai Flight

I vividly remember Delhi was scorching hot the day I had to travel as if preparing me for hot & humid Chennai weather. The flight took off on time, and I reached Chennai at around 1700 hrs on Sunday evening. I expected the Chennai weather to be sticky and warm, but the cool breeze from the sea and light drizzle that day felt refreshing.

Delhi airport
A South Indian meal at Delhi airport
Flight landing at Chennai airport

After check-in at the hotel, I went to the T-Nagar market for a stroll and dinner. It reminded me of a typical bus stand area of any Indian city, with the aroma of various fragrances, scores of street vendors encroaching the streets, honking vehicles, chaotic traffic, numerous eating joints, and people jostling for space, elbowing each other. I had thought that getting North Indian food would be an ordeal, but google suggested Shyam’s Bombay Halwa House, and I wasn’t disappointed. The food was delicious, had all north Indian varieties, had a familiar taste, and was reasonably priced. After satiating my taste buds, I returned to my hotel and crashed onto the bed.

Delhi-Chennai flight
First glimpse of Chennai

Day one

After a quick breakfast of idli, vada, and tea at a nearby Ganesh eatery, the uber auto dropped me at the office by 08.00 am. My office colleagues warmly welcomed me. Within a few minutes, I felt comfortable at the office. I caught up with lots of my colleagues, friends, and seniors over rounds of authentic filter coffee. The long day ahead had meetings, which ended at around 17.30 hrs.

Chennai – Evening stroll at Marina Beach

Instead of heading back to the hotel, I decided to go to Marina Beach Chennai, the center of the hustle-bustle of the town. By the time I reached the main road next to the Chennai Lighthouse, it had started to get dark. I could not enter the waters as I was in formal attire carrying my laptop. Still, the leisurely stroll with the cool blowing breeze along the beach felt good. The azure-colored sky bid adieu to the sun. The main road was glittering with lights by now. Despite the draft, I was sweating. The time read 19.30 hrs.

I crossed the road and started wandering, looking for a decent place to eat dinner. At a distance, I came across Chennai City Centre, which had a KFC. The malls in Gurgaon are more lavish and enormous, but this was a cozier one, which suited my requirements. With dinner sorted at KFC, I headed back to the hotel. It was a lovely evening wherein I enjoyed the company of myself. Walking alone is a chance to connect with oneself on a deeper level. Without the distractions of other people or technology, I found myself tuning in to my own thoughts, feelings, and intuition. Spending time alone is such a luxury, I thought.

Mornings at Chennai

Day Two

Even on the second day, I headed to a Ganesh eatery for delicious idli, dosa, and filter coffee. The breakfast was simple yet filling. When you combine the two, it can be a heavenly experience. The soft and fluffy idlis go perfectly with the strong and aromatic filter coffee, creating a balance of flavors and textures that is hard to beat. The perfect breakfast kept me going throughout the day at the office with meetings & discussions.

After working hours, I went to the home of one of my most revered office seniors for dinner. This was one of the most special evenings I had in Chennai. A warm homely atmosphere, delectable south Indian cuisine, excellent discussion on a plethora of topics… a memorable time I had. By the time I went back to the hotel, I was dead tired.

Marina Beach, Chennai

Day Three

The morning ritual was kept the same… idli, vada, and filter coffee at Ganesh. However, I had issues with the uber auto driver who insisted on cash (no online payment) before boarding. When I asked him to cancel the ride, he refused and parked his auto right on the road. Frustratingly, I used ola for a new ride. In this melee, I lost precious 20 morning commute minutes, which led to a traffic increase on Chennai roads.

KBR office
Office-Office at Chennai

I made a few new friends at the office, and they suggested I go to the beach early morning to see the sunrise and get down at the Gandhi statue. The next day being the last in Chennai, I was determined to experience the sunrise on the eastern coastline of India along the mighty Bay of Bengal.

Gandhi Statue
Gandhi Statue, Chennai

I had planned to catch up with one of my college classmates at OMR road, who had settled in Chennai. However, at the last moment, he ditched me, quoting a last-minute office meeting. Grudgingly, I headed back straight to the hotel, ordered biriyani over Zomato, and slept by 21.30 hrs.

Day Four – Morning walk at Marina Beach Chennai

I got up at an unearthly hour. The clock showed 04.00 hrs, and there was complete silence outside. I changed myself into shorts and picked up my GoPro and DSLR. Within the next 30 mins, I was standing beneath the Gandhi statue at Marina Beach. The shore was a good 100m walk on the sand from the statue.

The waves were crawling gently to the coast. Still slumbering in its grey-blue robe, the sea greeted me with its horizon, stitched in a faint yellow line with the sky, through which the sun started playing hide and seek. Finally, at around 05.15 hrs, I could see a slight streak of crimson color peeping out of the sky. Earlier, I had witnessed sunset in Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore, Mandvi, Daman, Diu, and Dwarka, all along the western shoreline of India, but today I was witnessing sunrise for the first time at a beach on the Eastern coastline.

Golden sunrays at Marina beach Chennai

The deafening sound of waves hitting the shore, the occasional Twitter of birds, the raucous cry of gulls, and the saline aroma of the sea filling my nostrils was an exquisite experience. It was peaceful. Surreal. Paradisical. These soothing sounds of nature were so much required to detoxify myself. With the sunrise, as the city awakened to life, so did its hustle-bustle. The beach was filled with joggers, morning walkers, beach volleyball players, kids performing skating stunts, vendors selling tangy breakfast, and whatnot. I knew it was time to go back to the mundane routine. So, after my share of clicks, I left for the hotel.

Chennai – Delhi

By 08.30 am, I finished my breakfast (same ubiquitous idli and filter coffee), checked out of the hotel, and reached my office. I planned to leave the office by 16.30 hrs to reach the airport on time for my return flight to Delhi. After the day’s work, I bid adieu to my colleagues and boarded Airport Line Metro from Nandanam metro station. Chennai metro might not be as large as the Delhi Metro network, but it was impeccably clean. Within 30 mins, I was at the airport metro station. After a quick luggage check-in, I relaxed in the lounge and awaited the boarding call. The flight was on time, and I reached Delhi by 22.00 hrs.

The 100 hours at Chennai were well spent. I enjoyed my stay there and had a fulfilling working week, working and networking with my colleagues. Moreover, two quick visits to Marina beach Chennai made my trip memorable.

Chennai airport lounge
Chennai airport lounge

Chennai – An Epilogue

Marina Beach, Chennai is a place to enjoy a walk, watch the sunrise, and relax on the sandy shore. It is a must-visit for anyone who loves the ocean and its natural beauty. The beaches offer a great opportunity to relax, unwind, and enjoy the city’s stunning scenery.

The vastness of the ocean and the horizon stretching out in front of you can make you feel small in comparison, and this can be a humbling experience. It can provide a much-needed break from daily life’s hustle-bustle and help you feel more grounded and centered.

Marina Beach, Chennai
Waves… from the Bay of Bengal

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