Chennai And The Peculiar Marina Wonderland

Oh Chennai... The city itself wasn’t particularly memorable to us. One of the things that stood out was its rivers and how contaminated they were; and the smell that came up to the streets was unpleasant to say the least.

chennai-river.jpg

To experience something more familiar, we decided to go to a “modern” mall and try out a veggie McDonald’s. On the fourth floor, there it was, a tiny stall with a soda machine, table wear, menus, a register and a man behind it. So, where is the kitchen!?

We decided to wait and see and after a few minutes there it was! As if they came from the heavens, our food descended from the ceiling on some sort of chain device with a loud grinding noise. We had a good laugh.

 View of Marina Beach.

View of Marina Beach.

The mall itself wasn’t very big. It had the feel of having been a nice baroque inspired building in the past. Now it looks empty and almost abandoned. There was one set of escalators on each floor that only went up and no stairs other than the emergency stairs to go down. So after we had lunch, to be able to get to the ground floor, we had to take a small elevator that contained a peculiar fixed passenger: a man sitting on a tiny stool pushing the buttons and assisting the doors.

 Buffalos wandering around.

Buffalos wandering around.

 Stray dogs too...

Stray dogs too...

We where shocked. A part of me wanted to cry for the poor man and another part wanted to laugh hysterically... We rode quietly with the other passengers wearing our poker faces. We had just witnessed probably one of the saddest, most ridiculous jobs ever. Yikes.

It was time for our next destination: Marina Beach

I’ve never seen anything like it.

 A man trying to fix his ride.

A man trying to fix his ride.

Marina Beach in Chennai is one of the longest beaches in the world and it attracts thousands of visitors per day. It’s forbidden to swim due to the water’s turbulent undercurrent but it’s still a little haven for those seeking a bit of peace. Luckily for us, we were able to enjoy our walk without the place being too crowed. 

 Mounted police patrolling the shoreline.

Mounted police patrolling the shoreline.

We went there on a weekday around 5:00pm to take a break from the chaos, the noise, the polluted air and got greeted by a weird and surreal spectacle. It was a particularly pretty day; the light was subtle, the colors pastel and the breeze felt comforting and fresh. The air was salty with an occasional food or fish aroma.

 Cotton candy vendor.

Cotton candy vendor.

 Two guys showing off.

Two guys showing off.

Though the view was the thing that made this beach memorable. 6 kilometres of golden brown sand, little bits of trash everywhere, plastic, small glass whiskey bottles, condoms... (Joris: “at least they use them”). Small shops scattered everywhere; some made of sticks and a tarp selling corn, fruit, snacks and other things. Stray dogs here and there. A herd of buffalos passed by. Some fishing nets and boats. A few guys selling horse back rides and to complete the wonderland; old children’s carnival rides spread around the beach. And like everywhere we've been to in India, crows flying everywhere. A surreal sight to behold.

 A carrousel.

A carrousel.

If you search for pictures of Marina Beach in Chennai, you’ll see many different scenarios but this is what we saw. A vast open space where couples and others sit in the shade or walk around looking for a bit of privacy, an escape maybe, surrounded by sea and sand. 

 Guys on horses trying to sell horseback rides.

Guys on horses trying to sell horseback rides.

 Carrousel owner.

Carrousel owner.

Without the crowds it almost felt like a wasteland. The surroundings took us to different dimension; it felt like a post apocalyptic scene from a movie. A place where a bunch of survivors came together seeking for food and shelter while waiting for help to arrive from the sea. A peaceful place overall.

 A man sleeping on the beach.

A man sleeping on the beach.

 

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