Quarantined Dog

It’s been a bit of a flat week back in Chennai, the FuckedUpProjectofDoom trundles on, but has now slowed to a pace that is actually painful. 

Never mind.. Move On. 

The weekend arrived with a bit of a whimper, I thought about going out on Friday but was so tired and bored that a desultory dinner and two beers was enough to send me to bed with my tail between my legs. 

Saturday started with a long gym session and a plan to get in a car around 3pm to go to some temples in a place called Kanchipuram -including one dedicated to my old mate Shiva. 

Before that was pool and relaxation time and a spot of lunch. 

It fell apart slightly with the introduction of a large wedding party and the attendant bullshit that follows a wedding in any country. 

The normally quiet pool area became a gathering for a group of early 20s males doing the age old territorial dance, I’d already bounced two of them into some lift doors as they tried to force in past me as I left; and to be honest I wasn’t the happiest Thunderdog. 

 Going on the basis that if they wanted to talk to me, they’d find me, I put my headphones on and crashed on a sunbed. 

Only to hear music from the outside through headphones that are pretty much noise cancelling. They’d set up a five piece speaker system. 

I looked up to see another of the Europeans telling them to turn it down and wandered over to make sure that the little crowd that was forming didn’t do anything silly. 

My sunny personality and air of inner calm won the day and the speakers were packed away and my new friends were all smiles as I wandered back to my sunbed. 

Lunch was a pizza and a bottle of water, which for reasons that still escape me took 80 minutes to serve up, by which time I was told that it was too late for the temples. 

Plan B was the Phoenix Mall  – a popular local tourist spot by all accounts and I set off with the hope of seeing something interesting.

I didn’t of course. 

It was a mall, what was I expecting?

To be fair, the power went off three times, giving it that Zombies  – Dawn of the Dead feel and the Vengaboys were playing at 7pm – which meant I HAD to be in the car before 6.30pm. 

Other interesting facts. 

Not one restaurant had an alcohol licence, including the Hard Rock Cafe. 

For Fucks Sake. 

You wouldn’t go there for food would you?

So it was back to the hotel, a bit of food, a couple of beers and fall asleep watching catch up TV. Last night’s fare was The Following – I only watch it now to see Kevin Bacon either get killed or go full serial killer. 

This morning I had a fairly good sports massage, an hour by the pool and then was ready to hit the road to Kanchipuram. 

The wedding party was still around and a number of  them still haven’t worked out how lifts work. 

My room, along with the pool and spa is on the top floor and the lift arrived with a large number of guests who hadn’t pressed the ‘0’ button. 

I’m obviously popular with them because a guy at the front of the lift moved to the middle and bellowed ‘FULL!’ as I walked forward. 

As gently as possible, I moved him back to the side and said ‘apparently not’  – it didn’t help his ego to hear the giggles from the women in the lift. 

And so to the car. 

It’s around a 90 minute drive and the driver was waxing lyrical about the wondrous saris and silks available. After a brief conversation that consisted of me saying:


No Silk’ 

‘No Saris’

‘No workshops’

“No shopping’

Our relationship was a lot clearer and we arrived at the town in good time. 

There are three big temples in Kanchipuram and they’re all very impressive. 

   
   

The quality of the stonework is incredible, amazingly detailed and it tells a story as you move around inside the temples. 

I was quite stoked as 3.30 came round, that would be when the first temple opened the door and let people in. My 5 Rupees for allowing me to use a camera had also given me a fairly annoying guide who kept trying to move me on  – while I was looking for Shiva. 

   
  Then he dropped a snippet of information – as a foreigner I wasn’t allowed inside the sanctum. 

I was quite shocked and asked him to show me where it said it, apparently it’s in Hindi.. 

He seemed to think I’d still follow him after that news and was quite shocked with the ‘fuck off’ that I gave him in lieu of a tip or payment. 

And we moved  on to temple number two, it didn’t open til 4pm and we were too early, but it was an amazing looking place  
    And it was genuinely peaceful, people were lying on the grass outside just enjoying the day and waiting to go and pray. No sign of Shiva though, just a few statues and carvings and we moved on. 

The third temple was the biggest of the three and I managed to avoid paying for a camera ticket by asking the ticket seller where it was written that I had to pay for entrance for me. He tried to do the guide thing, but I asked him to leave, which he very graciously did, 
My driver was starting to look nervous by now and I had to point out that I’m not really a tourist, just doing tourist stuff – hence no silks, shops or interminable time spent looking at craftsmen.

   
    The doors opened to the temple itself and I joined the queue, genuinely excited to get to see a temple to a god that I keep weaving into my writing and to see what happened next. 

Which was THIS

  My driver wanted me to walk towards the left side of the temple and to follow him, I decided that I didn’t fancy listening to anybody any more and walked slowly around the outside. 

In his (very) broken English, the driver explained that the temple was dedicated to Shiva  – I showed him a picture on my phone and he seemed a touch surprised that I even knew what he was talking about. 

We drifted through the temple at my pace and I took photos of things that seemed interesting while he followed with a confused look on his face. 

And eventually we came across a priest, he was opening up a small shrine with a huge bunch of keys – I’ve never seen so many locks. 

The priest waved me over and I waited patiently until the last lock was opened and the huge doors were pushed inwards. 

To a small shrine to Shiva with the god surrounded by mirrors on six walls. I slipped a note into the colection box out of sight of the driver, who was looking at me like he’d never seen me before. 

The priest asked my name and gave me a blessing and a garland of flowers, the driver also received a blessing with a slightly dumbfounded look on his face and told me that we were very lucky. 

I smiled. 

We walked back to the car, seeing these guys before we exited the temple. 

   
It’s been another strange day here. I started writing this in my head after being banned from the first temple. I was vaguely angry, feeling ripped off and disappointed. 

And yet. 

And yet… 

I knew something would happen – just not what. 

The driver sneaked glances at me on the way back, I think I confused him today but that’s a good thing. We should never assume anything. 

Nothing is fixed, anything can happen. 

And Shiva will continue to dance with me for a while yet I think . 

   

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