those that know chennai that was madras know t.nagar. it is the commercial street of madras.... hundreds of shops that sell from safety and bobby pins to jewellery worthy of a maharaja. walking down the main road called usman road is an experience in itself. there are two wings to this road, north usman road and south usman road. till about a few years back all major shops were located on south usman road only. for a long time, i believe, it was believed that shops on north usman didnt thrive as well as those on south u did. but that is history; now there is a GRT on north usman road too and the jewelery there is more fashionable, light weight and new generation.
i pretty much dislike crowds and avoid them at all costs, except one.... when i need to buy jewelery or gold coins as we madrasis seriously believe in gold as a if not the means of investment, i am forced to go to t. nagar. no other place and no other shop would do. it has to be grt and only grt. i decided that having saved a few thousand rupees, the time had come not to postpone the dreaded visit and better to get it over and done with. so off i went in the evening straight to t.nagar. i must say that was pretty adventurous of me, even if i say so myself. why? well, there is this brand new flyover that had been constructed which was to be inaugurated by the chief minister and his minister son...it was not with a little trepidation that i ventured to the hotspot..now you may ask why, when i knew of the big event didnt i change my mind and stay put. well, as we say , i am like that only....having decided i did.
it was the magic hour of dusk and i approached s.u. road from the northern side...all shops on both ends were decked with garlands of lit little bulbs, gently swaying in the breeze. there were flags everywhere, the 'service road' was all new, there was police posted everywhere.festive atmosphere, it was like deepavali was here already.. all those lights and all those shoppers. it was close to 630 but the inauguration had not yet happened....well, now, that is another story. the usually crowded roads in the area were surprisingly bare...well perhaps not to the average australian but by our standards, the crowds were nt there. where had they got to, i wondered. soon i found out... in GRT at least, it was impossible to approach any counter.....there were thousands of people i am sure in that shop, buying gold and silver like there was no tomorrow. madrasis, already gold savvy, always hoarding gold in the form of jewelery have cottoned on to gold coins and the rush at the coin counter, which in earlier times used to languish like a what-not, was to be seen to be believed.
the crowds inside the large number of and large textile showrooms were equally massive. shopping in tnagar must rate as one of the most exasperating and exhilarating experiences ever. thrilling things happen to you.... when you least expect it, a long pipelike toy would suddenly appear on your side making weird noises...the vendor would have just that second blown into a little tube which would have caused this long pipe to snake out and erupt into some sort of music. children love that kind of thing...it makes grown ups jump out of their skins.
i didnt expect to come out unsquashed from that place. normally one feels like one has been put through a wringer....i can well imagine how sugar cane feels .........yeah! completely wrung out. that is another huge attraction of tnagar... the freshly made sugar cane juice. with a dash of lime and fresh ginger. naaw, i dont drink the stuff anymore. as a kid i loved it. as a grown up i fear it!!
but today, the travel to and from tnagar wasnt bad at all. the flyover would make it better. if so, will tnagar be the same again?