My four-part travelogue will not be complete without mentioning my wonderful family and the good times we had together. My parents and in-laws live in Chennai and that makes life easy for us…or not! My trip to Chennai in 2011 was spent shunting between the two houses! This time we had a better plan and we actually implemented it. It also helped that both my Dad and father-in-law were in good health this time.
December happens to be kutcheri season and several musicians and dancers flock to Chennai for the Music Festival. My daughter learns music and we thought we should take her to a concert (kutcheri). So on New Year’s eve we were at Narada Gana Sabha nodding our heads to Sudha Ragunathan’s beautiful rendition of Thyagaraja and Papanasam Sivan’s compositions. As a bonus we got to see a Bharatanatyam performance by two very graceful ladies (whose names I forget!). We also sampled the food at the canteen, which, according to my friend A, is the highlight of the Music Festival. She was right – the aapam and vada curry and the rava dosai were to die for!
The next day we were up early and ready for our road trip to Mahabalipuram, a very touristy place just outside of Chennai. It’s known for its beautiful rock temples with intricate carvings dating back to the Pallava dynasty. There were rocks to climb, caves to explore and wells to peep into. The kids enjoyed it, although it was an awfully hot day and there was not much shade. We then stopped by Fisherman’s cove for lunch. The kids couldn’t wait to run into the beach and we had to force them to stay till they cleaned their plates. Then they headed into the water with their grandma in tow. After dinner at Ashoka we headed back home.
My Dad returned from Kerala with my grandma, Ganga. It was wonderful to see her. She looked healthy and happy. She lives at the Shivananda Ashram now and loves it. She has a place to herself, healthy fresh food and she gets to chant the Lord’s name everyday. What more could you ask for? I asked her to stay on till N’s birthday, so we could all celebrate together. It’s the second time that his birthday happened to be during our stay in India. The first time really didn’t count because both my kids were terribly ill and we couldn’t do much.
My cousin G’s mom sent a chocolate cake for N’s birthday. We cut it on the 7th and on the 8th we all went out for lunch at Eden. So N had a 48-hour birthday! How you ask? Well, his d.o.b. is the 7th and according to his star sign (nakshatra in the lunar calendar) his birthday was on the 8th. He wanted a RC car for his birthday. He also got an X-Box game and some clothes. His grandpa made a special payasam (sweet dish) for him. But the best treat of all was getting to celebrate it with his grandparents, his uncle and Ganga!
The next day Ganga left for Kerala along with Dad and we got busy packing for our trip back. It was with heavy hearts that we said our goodbyes, but with hopes of coming back soon, so we could do it all over again.
To our families – we miss you and greatly appreciate all that you did (the long trips, the amazing food and the crazy shopping) to make this trip a memorable one. Love you tonnes!