Tuesday, 2 June 2015
Last night I had pretty good night's sleep interrupted by just one power outage (ironically because everything went very quiet), which is not at unusual for Chennai which has daily scheduled outages for each region of the city. In fact when you see the shape of the weird electricty sub station things sitting on the pavements, the question is really how there is any power at all (see below)
Driving down the streets with Indian music blaring from the car radio felt too cliched to be true. There were people on bicycles wheeling every sort of cargo from fridges, to bottles of pepsi, to hay, to you name it. Women in saris looking like they were heading to uni or college, kids in school uniforms in 'auto-rickshaws' heading to school, and many many busses, lots of motor scooters, then the rest of the vehicles were cars. And of course everyone was beeping, all of the time. This photo is from the way home, with a bit of rain..
Arriving at the studio was amazing. It's located in the bottom part, (as in underground), a sort of truck depot, just off one of the main highways. Amongst the rubbish, and old gates which have (like absolutely everything else), seen better days, it has a calf tied up to a post outside, and truck drivers standing around awaiting their next call out I suppose.
We enter up a short flight of stairs (visible on the right in the above photo), then descend to an area which seems like the bowels of a 1960s era soviet hospital - when in fact it's only a few years or so old (the underground part anyway). There's only one entrance & exit, so it's good to know that they have taken adequate precautions in case of fire.
(I kid you not, there are a number of these buckets of water located in the long hall from which the various studios and tiny offices spring). It's ok though, in case of fire I have made mental plans to escape through what looks to be a half finished elevator in the ceiling (see above right), there's a big enough gap for me to climb it and squeeze out of into the daylight in case of emergency. And with the monsoon heading our way and the prediction of rain tomorrow, we'll be doubly safe (if a bit wet) inside. Now I should also point out that these buckets are next to the very fancy fingerprint security system which doubles as a timesheet system for the animators. Quite contrasting technology I feel.
The trip home had a bit less colour as some rain came in the afternoon, but it was nevertheless colourful. It's crazy on these roads, but I guess it works - no-one seems angry and everyone gets around. Occasionly a cow (of which there are many) wanders out into the road, bringing traffic to a complete halt. I travel with my nose practically squished against the window, staring out at all the shop fronts (a shop that sells only belts, is next to one that specialises in squash rackets, which is next to one that sells only pvc pipes, next to an impossibly small shop that sells wooden planks, next to a shop that is so small it's the size of a wardrobe, that will change your tyre for you while you wait, next to a shop selling giant slabs of marble). There's also a few sections of the road which have been widened to cope with the traffic flow. In order to widen it, the road people have just sort of sliced of the back wall of a whole strips of houses. AND LEFT THE REST OF THE HOUSE! I wonder if the people still live there, they just don't use the spare room anymore! It's a bit hard to see but you can see an example in the photo below..
Yeah - so that was day one! There are so many photos I wish I could take, but it's hard travelling in the car, and also I don't want to seem rude by sticking my phone in peoples faces. Tomorrow I've convinced Stefan and Alicia to go for a walk around our local area in the morning (I'm not allowed out unsupervised), so I'm hoping to capture a bit more streetlife before we head off to work.