Mamallapuram is a great place to end our trip to India. There is everything we soft westerners need: clean rooms, toilet paper, pizza and other people like us, whilst still being India: cockroaches, turds on the beach, Thali and people like us but different.
Returning from dinner on the 1st evening I got into conversation with a guy in the street. He had had a drink or three but he told me that he was the most famous magician in Mamallapuram. You’re Mr Ali I said and we met 16 years ago. It was indeed the same slightly tipsy magic man who had performed his turn for me on the beach in 1993. We arranged to meet again on the beach the next day and then when he missed that, the day after and he finally got it together to perform for us in his house the pm of our last day. In 1993 Mr A was quite a poor magician, but in the intervening years he had polished his act and it was very funny and very slick. He has a real talent and had us all baffled with his sleight of hand. He performed the same egg in the shorts trick on Jacques that he had performed on me with the same jokes and it was all great fun.
At the end of his show he produced a Cobra snake from a basket which he said still had its fangs. The snake was magnificent and we were all glad Mr A was there as it turned towards any movement and struck at an incredible speed.
Our last evening was spent in a great restaurant, run by a French ex-pat and then we took a taxi to the organisational mire that is Chennai Airport. The flight was no more or less horrible than any other long haul and we returned to France in relative ease.
Note: The differences are striking between the 2 countries but one thing which struck me was how empty France is compared to India. In India you are never (day or night) alone. There is always someone within sight and usually 100’s of people. In France the countryside is totally empty and one can be alone for the entire day. I wonder if India has an immigration policy.