Thalankuppam is a small fishing hamlet to the north of Chennai, near Ennur high road. The place's claim to fame is that the climax of the Tamil movie 'Kaakha kaakha' was shot here. When SidK suggested this place to us, we weren't exactly jumping up with excitement. But, we were all eager to get out after many rusty unproductive weekends in Chennai. We set out from the college in the afternoon sun and traced our way along the Marina beach. The route was pretty easy as it runs parallel to the beach in most places. Nikhil, sitting behind Sidk's bike was having a stupid 'high' smile all the way through.
After you went past the gates of the Chennai port trust, we faced some heavy truck traffic. For about 9 kms, we could see a long line of trucks. Its dusty and a little carelessness can land you under some big wheels. We almost had a truck tipping and falling on our head, after it well into a ditch. Thankfully, when it reached halfway through the tipping, it felt its not worthwhile and went back to normalcy.
The heavy truck traffic near Chennai port trust. This line stretches for 9 Km.
Eating up the sun
Pipes(the red ones) carrying effluents from the factory to the sea
The team enjoying a short rest.
The tea shop at Thalankuppam junction took me back to the days in shanghumokhom beach in Trivandrum because of the chilly bhaji and the strong tea, which tasted exactly like what we get back home. The tea shop owner was a cool dude whose T-shirt screamed, "Sorry girls, I date only models." From the junction, it is just a matter of one kilometer before we reach the Thalankuppam pier. On the way, we saw groups of old women sitting on the ground and playing cards. Some kids were having a competition on spinning tops.
The tea shop guy and his family. Checkout his cool t-shirt.
The bikes doesn't go till the pier. We stopped at a place which looked like a small boat jetty. There were so many rusted cylinders, cans, pipes and other industrial wastes dumped in the vicinity, a picture perfect "urban decay". A short walk took us to the pier, near where the river flows silently into the sea, forming an estuary. There were only very few people at the place, and all of them were from the locality. Some old men were sitting on the edge and fishing.
Scenes of urban decay..
The pier was nothing like the sea bridge back home, which even in its widely concreted pathway of safety scared me sometimes. This consisted of two beams on either side running till the end. And connecting beams in between at regular intervals. Like Rahul said, 'looks like a railway line'. Only that, under the line you have waves crashing in and walking is precarious at first.
A country boat passed under the bridge and naturally, I pointed the camera at the boat. Just then, the man in the boat, who looked like some kind of anofficial, pointed his fingers and shouted-"switch off the camera. This is a prohibited area. I'll call the police". This old sea bridge beside some industrial dump, prohibited area! This was not my first run in with moronic officials who get agitated on seeing the camera. And as always, to satisfy his ego, I said, "Sorry sir, I didn't know". After some more repetitions of "I'll call the police", he went on his way. Case of frustrated middle aged officials taking our their anger on hapless travellers and harmless photographers!
Anyway, we started walking on the thin ledge towards the end of the pier. Rahul, the 'master of cliches' that he is, started playing the song 'uyirin uyirae' from 'Kaakha Kaakha', possibly a respectful nod to that movie which was partly shot here :P . Halfway through the walk, Rahul and Nikhil abandoned the idea of reaching the end and sat down. We continued walking. The wet ledges on some places scared us. But, it was all in the mind. After sometime, we started walking casually. Inside the dilapidated structure at the end of the beach, two men were getting ready to return after the day's catch. The sunset was on the side opposite to the beach. In Chennai, we are not lucky enough to see the sun going down into the sea and since am an early riser, watching it coming up is out of the question.
A walk over the sea..
or a swim under the bridge
After sunset, it was time for some long shutter speed experiments under the bridge. Rahul got a local cigar from one of the locals. Even the non-smoker in me was attracted to the romanticism of smoking a cigar. We all had our brains blasted by it. It was getting pitch dark and the return journey started. The "master of cliches" played the title song from the latest Tamil flick 'Mankaatha', as he saw a group of guys playing cards under the street light.
Long shutter experiments under the bridge
The boat jetty at night
The BJP 'Thattukada' was one of the highlights of the return trip. We are so used to seeing the faces from the Gandhi family everywhere. And so it was a surprise when I saw photos of Advani and Vajpayee in a small shop in North Chennai. I had to say that I am a BJP supporter to make the shopkeeper pose with the pictures.
The return ride was difficult, with the darkness, dust and the heavy truck traffic. When visiting North Chennai, better leave your cars behind and trip in bikes if you don't want yourself sandwiched in between two trucks. We stopped near the Burma bazaar to savour Burmese street food. We ordered more and more of 'Attho', 'Fry', 'onion filled eggs' and ofcourse, had our fill with free unlimited soup. We went back to our dens with a vow to do 'this' more often.