Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is an indian city located in the south of the country. I moved there one year and a half ago because my boyfriend received a fantastic job offer from his company.
Chennai is a dirty and crowded city, full of poverty. However, living in Chennai as an expatriate was a nice experience.
Thanks to my boyfriend, we managed to have a higher lifestyle than in Spain, because we are a young couple, and there we didn´t have any responsibilities at all. Everything was delegated. We had a maid for doing the house working, a driver, etc. We lived in a 200 hundred square meter penthouse. We ate in incredible restaurants and we travelled to fantastic places all around Asia.
In Chennai there are a lot of hotels and I had either brunch or dinner in most of them, including the most luxurious hotel of the city called “ Itc Grand Chola”.- a 7 star hotel.
We stayed in our own house in a quiet neighborhood called Gandhi Nagar in Adyar. We chose this place because of the location. It is near to the center and we had the possibility to take a walk or shopping without the necessity of the car. Furthermore, my boyfriend´s office was nearby our house. There is a lot of traffic in the city and if you live far away from the center you must spend more than one hour on the road.
However, some friends of us with children preferred to stay in a residential area, and there are a plenty of them available at the city. They had a nice house with swimming pool, garden, barbecue and gym. In these places the 80% of the people are expats from different countries.
There are a lot of transports in Chennai but the metro is still under construction. Fortunately we had our 7 seat´s car, and we used to use it most of the time. There were chances where our driver was not available, so I used to move around by “autoricksaw”. It is really funny and everyone must try it.
Autoricksaw”, best way of moving through the city
For six months I worked as a Spanish teacher in a private school so I used to buy some Indian food and eat it alone in my class. They had a break for lunch but not like in Spain.
We had only 30 minutes, and the Indian used to eat few things only during the lunch. They prefer to eat during all the day. The other teachers used to eat together at the teacher´s room. They used to share the food and ate with their hands, so it is difficult to imagine that they had any rules of behavior during the meal time.
The HUS is located a little bit far from the city and I had to spend two hours only to arrive and come back. Thanks that I had driver I could manage it. I used to sleep, read, write or correct during the way. But the place is really nice, and when I was stressed I went for a walk at the big playground.
Indias was a british colony, and as part of its heritage, brunch has remained as a tradition for pretty wealthy people.
From time to time, if we were in the city during the weekend and we did not have a hangover from the previous night we went to Hilton or Hyatt´s Brunch. Both of them offer a lot of delicious continental food for a good price.
There are a lot of restaurants in the city.
For Indian food, I like Talapataki. You can try there good quality of south indian food for a good price with A/C , clean and polite staff.
Also Sigree. There is a buffet available and everything is very good.
For an Italian food we used to go to Bella Ciao. It has a nice terrace and it makes you feel like in another country. Also the owners (Italians) are very friendly and the food is really good.
Teppan for Japanese food and below it there is also another good restaurant called Benjaorung which serves Thai food.
I love cooking and we used to eat Spanish food at home, but there are a very famous Spanish restaurant where the alcohol is available and you can eat some Spanish tapas. The food is only acceptable, but we went more than one time with the rest of the Spanish people before party.
I like the Indian food, so I did not have any problem with the spices, but sometimes I had to specify in the restaurant that I preferred something softer. The only problem that I find in the indian gastronomy is that it is 80% veg. Only some dishes are made with meat, and they only eat chicken or mutton, nothing about pig or cow.
The “chai” time is sacred. It is around 4 and the world stops during this time and besides his economic position everyone goes to have a tea.
There are no so many places to meet up with a friend for drinking a coffee or tea. Most of them are French. The Tryst café is one of the more famous places in the city. It has a nice terrace and there are always a lot of expats.
To find a place for drinking a beer is a tough work. Obtaining the license to sell alcohol takes a lot of time and it is very expensive . Only hotels or big restaurants can afford it. Even the Hard Rock Café was waiting for its license for more than half year. They had tasty mocktails but it is not the same.
I used to meet up with some friends in the Phoenix Mall. There you have the outlets of the city for shopping. Even our Spanish Zara. And so many restaurants and cafes to have something.
We used to have dinner out around two and three times per week, either on workings days or during the weekend. We used to meet up with the other expats in order to see each other and have a social life. We went to the restaurants of different hotels because there was alcohol available. The best which I visited: Flying elephant in the Hyatt, Above sea level in the Raintree, the Asiana´s restaurant or the Radisson Hotel.
As said, finding alcohol is a little bit tough, but we are Spaniards and we need party. Sometime we order to our landlord for buying alcohol at the airport, because he has a contact there, or we brought it when we travelled in order to have at home. We had parties from time to time. I love to do that. We used to meet up at home from 21,30 for drinking and around 1 o clock we were moving to some club. I have some cool Indian friends and they used to keep us posted about where the best party was, but we used to go Qbar at Hilton or Dublin at Sheraton. Both of them are quite good, and are open till 3,30-4.
You cannot find anything after this time, but for some afterparties at home. It is better than nothing.