Thursday, August 14, 2008

madras that is chennai

chennai to me is the most beautiful place on earth, garbage, two wheelers, huge hoardings included. its home. i loved the grand canyon...its amazing, the deafening silence of the gc, the niagara the deafening roar of the falls, thoor effel, the colloseo....i have seen some very lovely places on planet earth- breathtaking views, so beautiful a lump comes to your throat and refuses to go away....and yet, when i return to chennai...its like there is no other place on earth for me.

the hoardings are gone though. well, most of them anyway. chennai was notorious for its hoardings, larger than life size cut outs of cinema stars, politicians....and then one fine day, the hoardings came down and suddenly, there are these beautiful parks, lovely old trees, great open spaces all that were hidden behind the hoardings. maybe they will all come back, but till then its good to see the ooru, as we say. and i do think this ooru has lots and lots of trees and greenery. way to go chennai!!

the other hallmark of chennai is its two wheelers.... gosh! do we have them! they dont make the noise that rome's two wheelers do, but they do their share of noising i tell you. have you seen young women riding pillion, clutching infants? all that smoke into the kids' lungs. i have seen families of four on bikes....i havent sat on a scooter/bike, i think in decades....they seem so precariously balanced. weaving in and out of traffic. but madras as i think of it mainly, doesnt have fast traffic...it cannot have, its roads are so congested with shops everywhere and no foot paths, and so people walking on the edges of roads, we sure are a city in transit stage...

i think i was slightly heartbroken when they changed the name to chennai from madras...but it seems to be happening all over the place, mumbai instead of bombay, kolkota instead of calcutta, bengaluru for bangalore and so forth...but you get over it and thinking of madras you call it chennai and get on with it.....

lots of changes here. a decade ago, people wouldnt think of walking.. for anything. now you should see the fitness walkers and joggers all over the place. to think, in chennai, there would be people out walking at four am...is something uh? by 7 ish people are done walking mostly and back in their homes getting ready for the rest of the day. where else will you find madusaru mamis in reebok or nike shoes happily walking as they gossip? why, i myself slip into my pair of nike in the car,get off at anna samadi and walk to the light house every evening on my way home from office. and yes, i am in a sari....sometimes, very sometimes (that does sound so madrasi no?) i am in a salwar suit, but most days it is the sari and nike combo for that evening walk along the marina...sari pulled up and tucked in at the waist in a bunch and away i go.... what sights! and what smells... ya, the fish and eggs included, one just gets used to it, and the over heated reused oil for the deep fried stuff....corn on hot coals, ice cream vendors every 10 feet away, 'fast foods' and madras version of the bhel .... come to think of it, the murukku sundal fellas dont seem to be that many in number... one mostly sees these chana masala, samosa, bhel sort of thing. there is a lot of beautification activity going on just now, so there is a lot of dust and rubble about the place....on the other side of the road you have these really old red bricked buildings with the lovely architecture... we pass them every day and take them for granted...

the marina cricket ground which languished for a long time is now back in action. often one sees matches in progress. right now, they are doing up the outfield. i dont think we can possibly have the dhoni and yuvi types playing there, you would need a ball for every ball sent, they would send it into the sea but well.. the ground seems to be seeing quite a bit of local action. another of the madras sights.

3 comments:

Random traveler said...

That brought quite a bit of nostalgia for me too. And yes, changing madras to chennai was such a foolish and hypocritical idea of the jarhead politicians! I dont know how they think that helps. Driving the byke in chennai was the best memory. The Beach road, GST, ECR. That is something that can never be bought out at the autobahn here! Life is never monotonous there! Its that excitement in the the general atmosphere that makes everyday interesting. Not to forget the electric trains and their associated stories..

Enjoy!

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