Had a whirlwind of a time in Chennai. I was only gone for 4 days, but in that time we really managed to squeeze in a lot.
I went to Chennai primarily to attend my cousin’s wedding, and catch up with all my relatives. Took two very tiring, and hot days to get that done leaving the rest of the time to do whatever we feel like.
This involved mostly roaming around the streets of Besant Nagar, checking out whatever new boutiques/stores/restaurants catch our fancy. Besant Nagar is one of those “cool” places to be in Chennai, filled with a young and happening crowd. This makes for a constantly changing neighborhood with new places popping up all the time.
Some great and not-so great places we stopped by in Besant Nagar:
- Auromode was one of the first shops we visited. This is run by the folks from Auroville in Pondicherry. Having already visited their store in Pondicherry, I expected this one to stock high-quality merchandise at high prices. And this store is precisely what I expected. Apart from the usual candles, soaps, biscuits, and agarbattis, they have some excellent leather bags, and wallets, clothes, and furnishings.
Although the store is not very large, the owners have used the space superbly, and are able to stock quite a lot of goods without without making the space feel cramped at all.
I loved one of the handbags and a wallet, but the price made me hesitate a little bit. I did not think Rs.5000/- for a bag to be very reasonable (even though it was a good design and very well-made). The mezzanine floor has some great costume jewelery, which is reasonably priced. They also have a very good selection of western women’s clothing. I loved the collections of shawls they had, and ended up picking up one of them.
The second floor has some (overpriced, I thought) dhurries, bedcovers and so on. Nothing too interesting, or novel. What we loved though, was the huuuuge bean-bag they had for sale (Rs. 7000/-). This has to be one of the most comfortable bean-bags I have ever sat on (and I have sat on many). The hubby is a big fan of bean-bags and is always looking for the perfect one for him to lounge on with a glass of beer watching cricket on the TV. This bean-bag was perfect, only the price made us hesitate, and the fact that the shop can’t send it to Bangalore. Even we were not so crazy as to attempt to cart it by train!
Now, enough about the bean-bag. Some other great items we saw, were the teak-wood framed mirrors and the teak-wood pedestal lamps. They were just too beautiful, really exquisite workmanship and the quality of the wood was just great…
Definitely, this store has a lot to offer for people who are looking to redecorate their homes. Even if the prices are a bit steep, it is still worth it to come here and get some great design ideas. The staff are also very knowledgeable and helpful, very good service. Definitely 2 thumbs-up!
- FabIndia Furniture is a new store that has opened up in the past week. We went there with very high expectations, as this is the first time we are going to a FabIndia that is solely focused on furnishings. But, we were in for a real disappointment. Maybe it is because this is a new store, but they hardly had anything solid on display. Just the same stuff that we have seen in numerous FabIndia stores any number of times. The stock is old, and their designs are mundane. The staff were not able to distinguish the sheesham wood from the mango wood. All in all, a total waste of time. We just hung around there and browsed their catalog out of politeness and then discreetly left the store.
- Purple is a boutique located in Arundale Beach Road. From the outside, the place looks very interesting. There is also a sign for an attached bakery. This store supposedly attracts a lot of people from Tinseltown, so when I walked in, I was definitely not expecting fake D&G bags sold for 3k! The clothes and shoes are very blah, nothing even tempting me for a second glance. Since I had walked in, I thought let’s at least go to the bakery and pick up something, but there must have been something very wrong, because I just could not find the bakery. Went around in circles for about 15 minutes and then gave up the attempt. My only guess is, the owners probably keep the good stuff inside for the celebrities and leave all the junk out for the aam aadmi (common folks, like us).
- Cascade is a very popular Chinese restaurant in Besant Nagar. There is not much I can say about Cascade that hasn’t been said umpteen times in various restaurant reviews. Consistently good food at a very good price. The menu is not that extensive, but that doesn’t matter to us. This is the place to go gorge on the superb soups, the crunchy cream cheese wontons, the spicy chilli garlic noodles and fried rice, and the fried ice-cream. Left the place barely able to walk :).
Summary of events: A mixed experience. Auromode and Cascade were terrific. Purple and FabIndia Furniture were disappointing. There are probably tons of new places, which we might have missed visiting.
I was very eager to go for the Bella Ciao Sunday brunch in Kottivakkam. Heard it’s a very good experience, but since we were leaving on Sunday, we couldn’t make it this time. It is definitely on my place to visit list.
Now looking forward to a long and busy week ahead with tons of work to catch up on …
Oh well, short but a really sweet and action-packed holiday !