Well we arrived at Chennai International Airport at 11:15pm after our huge day of travel, after getting out luggage and a little bit of currency, it was time to step out of the airport and brave the humid air that is Chennai. It was hot and it was crowded, people huddling close together as they waited for whoever they were waiting for. We looked at the sea of faces and initially I saw not a single familiar face, and then from in the crowd, a hand waved and it was so good to a familiar face, the face and waving hand that belonged to Rajan!
The hospitality of the Church of South India and of the tradition in South India more generally I think, we were greeted with the presentation of silk shawls, after which We loaded our bags into the bus and climbed in the cars, next stop LITE Auditorium Guest House. The first thing that always seems to stand out to when traveling at night through Chennai, are the people that call the street their home, within minutes of being in the car I saw a number of people under the cover of what will be the Chennai Metro Rail, just sleeping. It was fairly quiet on the street, by Chennai standards, but then again it was late. Horns still sounded, people gathered together, dogs roamed and rummaged!
Anyhow – we arrived at the LITE Auditorium and basically the accommodation is great (although I do confess my heart still belongs to the guest house, as Bishop said old habits die hard!) we each have an ensuite, the beds are comfortable, we have air conditioning, and basically everything you need to be comfortable.
We got settled in our rooms and were informed that we needed to be ready to leave at 7am. We were all flagging it was now 1:30am Indian time, but that was about 6am Australian time. We knew that we were going to be absolutely knackered but it is only a couple of weeks out of our lives. We had the port unity for about 5.5 hours sleep, but once the pressure is on and you know you have to be up, isn’t it always the way that you don’t sleep. I think everyone of us had a disturbed night, despite the fact that we had been traveling all day.
Anyway the morning came, and of course the first dilemma of the day was “how do we work the showers?” I learnt the hard way as did some of the others when the fiddling resulted in cold water spraying out of the shower all over the place, but we all managed and no-one was injured during the process, just a few squeals here and there! We had brekkie and was promptly ready and outside for 7am only to be told no, now it is 7:30am, so rather than go back inside we headed out for a half hour explore of the area. It wasn’t long before I saw my first rat and realized how little it worried me, there was a time I’d freak, but again it seems like there will be plenty to explore over the next two weeks. We got back to the LITE Centre were greeted by the cars and whisked off to church. Upon arrival it was quite exciting to see that the church we were visiting today was the church that 2 of us had been present at during it’s dedication service in 2010. It was good to see that the church we had to queue to get in 2 years ago was still going strong and still full. It was a service in Tamil, so add that to a bunch of people still very tired and you get a very long morning, but the Sunday school children, youth fellowship and women’s fellowship concluded the service by dancing and singing for us – seriously the hospitality is mind blowing.
Before we headed back to the LITE Centre we hit Spencer Plaza for the ATM and FabIndia so that some appropriate clothing could be found by all as needed – I reckon we will all sleep well this evening, well here’s at least hoping because tomorrow will probably be a big one too.