Between the end of my session and dinner, my driver offered to take me to a shop which he had been going on and on and on about. I thought maybe it was owned by his brother-in-law or something.
The people I am visiting felt it would be a shame if I didn't visit at least one shop to procure a souvenir of my visit to Chennai. And they offered to send someone with me.
So I went shopping. I'm not the biggest shopper in the best of times and the thought of shopping in an Indian market was just a bit intimidating. But hey, what's a little intimidation for motivation?
The shop wasn't a market place at all but a relaxing environment full of beautiful handicrafts and a delicious cinnamon and cardamon tea which shocked and surprised me. After spending quite a long time browsing and registering in the back of my mind those items which would make good gifts for my children, the shop keeper offered me a seat and a cup of tea and started bringing out the most beautiful rugs you have ever seen.
And it was all down hill from there. The rugs are woven hung vertically (didn't know it mattered til then), hand dyed, hand woven, hand tied and certified to be free from the use of child labour (oh go, I hope so!). This is a seriously manual process which results in the most glorious rug you have ever felt under your feet.
And it changes colour. As you move in relationship to the rug the colour of it changes....you gotta see it to believe. It's a magic carpet! My very own magic carpet. I haggled with a little help from my escort. I haggled hard. I surprised myself a bit. I got a good deal, a very good deal!
Right, I've landed in Bangalore, very different from Chennai. Many more Westerners, more urban, although it was 10:30 pm when we were driving through the city, and no beach. Had a most unpleasant experience at the security gate of the complex last night that I must sort out. More details to follow!