My Air India flight arrived from Singapore at something like two in the morning. Like a lost lamb, I edged my way through the chaos of coolies and taxi drivers badgering for business. After I slunk into the back of a wonky taxi seat, the driver whizzed through the darkened Chennai streets (Madras back then).
I had no idea which way he was headed. It was long before you could track your journey on a device. But it turned out to be unnecessary, because I was deposited at the dingy hotel someone had suggested to me in Bali. It was a time before the Lonely Planet published its first backpackers guide so it was word-of-mouth that travellers relied on in the early 1970s.
Surprisingly, on a recent visit to Tamil Nadu’s capital, I discovered the hotel still stands not far from the Egmore Railway Station. It’s had a facelift, but I don’t know about the interior.
I disclose this first encounter in a manuscript/novel I’m about to hand over to my editor before I submit the fiction to a publisher.