Just off the beaches of Chennai, covered in crow guano, trash and cow dung, lies the creepily gorgeous ruins of the Snowball amusement park.
Paint was peeling off the walls. So was the plaster. Heck, even the walls were peeling off the walls. Nests cluttered the turrets, and empty windows peered into nothingness.
I snapped pictures over a tall wall, but I had to get closer. I found a rusty gate, but it squeaked loudly as I pushed through, and a dozing security guard snapped awake.
“Closed,” he shouted loudly.
He didn’t work at Snowball. Of course not, no-one did. But he did work at the Planet Yumm Food-Fun-Frolic International Food Mall next door. Their sign boasted a Dominos, and also a vegetarian restaurant curiously called Sudan’s Diners Pork. And I’d have to walk through his yard to get into Snowball.
“I just want to take a photo,” I said.
“No,” he shouted again, irritated. “Nothing there. Used to be shows. Used to be things to see. But now, nothing! Go away.”
There really did appear to be nothing more than what I could see from the road. Trash and weeds and maybe an old sink.
Beside me, a large crowd of Indians were sitting outside their tour bus, serving up fragrant dal and rice from pots, and eating from paper plates with their hands. I ordered a sweet coffee from a vendor nearby, and watched crows fly among the crumbling cardboard towers. I wonder what happened to Snowball. It was beautiful.
Elliot’s Beach, Besant Nagar, Chennai, India