That's right - more me time! I mean really, if I'm going to work on my vacation time, I should at least get a vacation while I'm here. *grin* Lin joined me at the last minute for a trip to Chennai to see a new friend and her family check out the surrounding areas of southern India, a new locale for me.
Chennai (named Madras by the British, corrected relatively recently back to a more local moniker) is a bit different than most of the places I've been so far. Furthest south, and close to the ocean, it's incredibly humid and warm, even in "winter", which is now. It actually reminded me strongly of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, a strange connection that took a day or two to shake off. Lots of temples of various architecture and age, including many older ones (600 AD?) in a place called Mamallapuram, a tourist town that did little to dispel my Mexico schizophenia.
Most interesting, however, was getting to stay with my friend and her husband and son - altogether an incredibly talented family. She is a very accomplished Indian Classical Dancer, and we were treated to a short private performance. There are many styles of classical dance, but I'd never seen any of them, and to get such an amazing performance up close was perhaps the best introduction one could hope for. Her husband is a well-known Classical Vocalist who performs with her as well as in his own shows; she played a commercially-produced CD of him for her mini-performance. And last but not least, their son is a budding western-style guitarist, inordinately fond of Jimi Hendrix, who we got to hear play in his school's "western music assembly" the day we arrived. Wow. Best of all, they are all incredibly warm and welcoming, a pleasure to get to know individually as well as part of a family.
Also met up with a new friend from this year's MTB Himachal (funny being on the same trip and meeting back up with people from previous activities...) and cycled to Pondicherry, about 150km south on a beautiful coastal road. My first trip on a road bike was great - so different than the grinding you do cycling up and down rough mountain terrain. No crazy pictures, but it was great to just ride through the greenery and salty air. A quick stay with other cycling friends there and back the next day - nice tour.
Now off to Bangalore for the last stop on this tour - a little climbing, a little cycling, and some good face time with friends.