Walking off the boat the first morning in the port of Chennai my nose was filled with the smell of warm, hot and muggy jasmine, spices and a mixture of feces. Within moments, sweat was dripping down my back and from my hair line. Taxi drivers swarmed us, shouting out fares to different destinations and claiming if they had air conditioning or not.

We found our way to Spencer’s Market, a quaint little mall full of shops and a food court. Eating my first Indian meal, I was surprised at how much I liked the food. The hot spices opened up my taste buds and burned my throat, but the only way to make the burn less prominent was to eat more. The naan dipped into the different cottage cheese’s or vegetable dishes made this food court version of Indian food, more amazing than any high class Indian restaurant I’ve been to back home.

After a few hours, I had to leave my friends, Kara, Kaylin and Leigh to venture back to the ship by 3 pm in order to meet Kalee. This was my second attempt at travelling on my very own, the first in the safe country of Japan, and now, hoping in my first rickshaw alone. I met a man, who knew the Semester at Sea ship really well, and wanted to show me a good time. Sadly, I had my guard way up high and really was on a time restraint. Yet, he still took me around the city. He bought me coconuts and tried to take me to some shops, but the clock was ticking and I needed to get back.

3: 15 rolls around, and I was now 15 minutes late to meet Kalee. We had to make our way to the airport that was over an hour away, and at this point each minute counted. My rickshaw driver didn’t understand this concept, or he just ignored it, I’m not sure. I reiterated, over and over again that I needed to get back now. He finally understood and started zipping through the traffic. Satisfied, I sat back and tried to relax but within 5 minutes the rickshaw pulled over again. Out hops my rickshaw driver and starts pushing the cart by hand, with no shoes on. We had run out of gas.

*next post: my rickshaw driver had no gas*


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