Its been two years since i stayed in Chennai and was this post is a reminiscence with some self nuances.
As someone rightly said or as my inner voice puts it “ The three seasons in Chennai are cold summer, medium summer rains and the actual summer” and this prompted me to have the title of my 1.5 year of stay in Chennai as what it is. Perhaps this is one of the added advantage for corporates for opening new ventures here. Employees can’t bunk and hangout; It’s better to stay in AC office than to sulk in the sultry weather outside.
To live in Chennai prosperously either you have to be the owner of Saravana stores, OR an AC dealer , OR own a kirana store which sells sambhar masala Pepper OR probably better, an Autowallah, but NEVER ever a tie wearing software guy. Flaunting your id card is going to be charged extra. The autowallahs, as usual are a different species as any other place but in one thing there is thats common to Autowallahs anywhere , that if the front tire of the auto can fit in the gap, the whole auto can fit and every autowallah imagines himself a Michael Schumacher. The house rents were so sky rocketing that it’s better to buy a house and rent it, pay some part of rent as EMI and relax at home with the remaining.
Anyone who has visited or lived in Chennai has a memoir or a totem to validate that. Atleast that’s what I deduced after seeing a jute bag of either Saravanana stores or the Pothy silks in every household there. I also became an i-also-came-to-chennai guy when I shopped at Saravana stores and they rewarded me with a thick plastic bag in recognition of my cute little purchasing power. That was also the time when I have been taught one of the golden rules of living in Chennai, never venture out to T Nagar area on a holiday. There are only two places I know where you stand in a queue and your pace is completely determined by the guy standing back in line and his pace is determined by guy standing next to him and so on. One is while having darshan of Lord Venkateshwara in Tirumala and the other in TNagar Ranganathan street. That road if i remember is Usman road and can be easily renamed as Saravana road with the number of buildings portray that name on that road. Perhaps they are waiting for some official nod from Rajini sir to rename it.You might have even seen some videos of some salesman doing Rajini style packing.
Two mega things happened while I was in Chennai. One, the release of Yenthiran/Robo and two, the state assembly elections.
Be it people thronging theatres at 4AM for early morning shows or all the theatres in Chennai screening only Endhiran/Robo/Robot on that weekend or the Corporate bulletin board servers going down with analysis and discussions, it was only possible to THE SuperStar. The Euphoria was exhilarating. The exciting was unmatchable. Being myself a fan of Thalaiva and wanted to watch it in Telugu, took a lot of effort in booking tickets.Everything was Rajinified for atleast a week.
The state assembly elections were a lousy and noisy affair. Thanks to the market and meetings nearby my place, every Sunday , I had to plug in earphones into my ears . With all different coloured flags of various parties and political holdings of various people it looked like a new place every week. I reckon have seen LTTE Prabhakaran in the hoardings too. And that gloomy day in office,when AIADMK had won the elections .Stalin is credited for the IT revolution in TN just as CBN is credited for in AP.
These are definitely some memories i would cherish for life . And I just missed meeting Shashi Tharoor for a tweetup and the one function i attended to see the legendary Kamal Hassan turned out to be cancelled . The long local train journeys, especially in the monsoons are the best memories i still have of rustic rains and probably the best monsoons i enjoyed. The long drives on ECR, OMR or on Tambaram – Chengalpattu are one of the best times. Somethings might have changed now , OMR might have been more crowded with new IT companies , Tambaram -Chengalpattu NH might be the next suburb stretch , Besant nagar beach might have become more like Marina Beach with too much crowd Hope Kottivakkam beach is as secluded as ever and Sathyam and Escape Cinemas as luxurious as ever.
Certainly miss that suspense of which way would be out while shopping in Padmavyuha-like Spencer Plaza (People who shopped in Spencer can only understand this 😛 ) .Shop in the ritchie street and see how dead cheap those electronic things are , Shop in the Moore market near Central or any of the platform second sales of books and understand how economical is to gain knowledge . Ofcourse, couldnt explore much of the traditional side of the city. Will save the visits to Kapaleeswara temple/Mylapore/Triplicane for future when i become little religious.
I have watched the cricket God and was part of that memorable mexican wave in honour of him in an ipl match and if iam remember correctly , just sat beside Jessie Ryder,Scott Styris and had my dinner another day.I have watched the Chennai Open Tennis , watched Leander Peas and Mahesh Bhupati play and understood why they are the best double players.
I am glad that I could experience something different,truly vibrant and certainly enlightening . My only- tamil-literate home owner had taught me some Tamil and I realised Telugu and Tamil are almost similar in many cases. I can atleast understand half of Tamil then , not sure how much i can understand now.
The way Tamil people are proud of their culture kept me spellbound.They are fighting for the cause of all the Tamilians in the world and sometimes I feel bad that we Telugus fight amongst ourselves. Tamil Nadu is probably the only place which still stays true to its cutlural and traditional roots without loosing grip of the development and its nuances.Tamil Nadu was the pioneer in the anti caste movement of 60’s and thats the reason almost all the Tamilians have their father name and village name as Surnames instead of their caste names. Truly blessed for all those learnings and experiences.