Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Time of My Life

Readers of my old blog will know that I like Chennai. No, really, I do like this city. I'm not discounting the awful after-sales service of most companies (this poem was written after unsuccessfully repulsing the attack of a Godrej serviceman) or the water problems or the less-than-well-connected public transportation system, or even the language barrier -- all of which are, to me, the biggest cons of the place. The thing is, every big city has its share of warts. In addition to its problems, Chennai also has a great deal of charm.

Ask S. Muthiah, or as we in the family fondly call him, Smuthiah. Fascinating man he is too, as these two links will have shown you.

But back to Madras. I like the weather here for one thing. As it gets hotter I just shed a few more layers. I like the fact that it has the beaches. I like the two rivers, and I particularly enjoyed the idea of that silly Adyar being in spate next to our home recently. Walked down to look at the muddy, churning water and chuckled to myself. I'm fond of that damn nullah. I like the people here, all speaking in that language which is so familiar to the ear and yet which I can't follow. (It's worse in Bangalore, because there the script does the same thing to me as well!) I like the old buildings, I like wandering around Mylapore, even though they won't rent us non-vegetarian low-lives a place there. I like that cute Victoria Hall next to Central Station, and Fort St. George (shameless critter, aren't I?) and the Museum in Egmore. I am particularly fond of the vagaries of Moore Market where you get so many weird things, and the exhausting collection of Landmark, Nungambakkam, not to mention the cramped confines of the Giggles Bookshop in the Taj Connemara. Near my father's office at Parry's Corner, there's an MRT station, the Beach one I think it's called. It has an over-bridge where one can sit for hours just watching the world drift by.

Incidentally, talking about Giggles reminded me of Blossom's, Bangalore, where Vicky, Dhruba and I spent so many happy hours. Too bad we missed Select. This discerning gent writes of all three, I'm delighted to note.

I've only been here a few months, but when the parents moved down two and a half years ago, I already knew I would like the place. And I do, I really wish I could show you snapshots of all these places. Of the foreigners trying to feel at home in the lanes of the Boat Club Road, of the joyful expectancy that the East Coast Road invariably instills in me, of the bienvenue of Elliot's beach, of the possibility of going from Broadway to 'Paris' (Parry's) in one bus-ride. Of the temples constantly popping out at you from the centres of roads and the corners of innocuous-looking lanes.

I like almost every place I've been to, it's true, but Chennai seems to achieve the same affection I have for Calcutta. That awe and respect too. As a place it's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right. And I have had the time of my life.

For those who were confused by what I said about Tamil and Kannada being familiar yet unknown, I only meant that they both have this similarity with Telugu, which I can read and follow after a fashion.


WishfulThinker said...

You write really well I must say. Always a pleasure to see an out-of-towner appreciating my city! (which by the way I vastly prefer to call Madras!) :)

Sujith said...

we both have the same blog name!!!!!

Sue said...

Wishful: I prefer Madras myself. (You'll never get me to write 'Kolkata' - whoops!) Just been trying to get used to 'Chennai'.

Exuberant: Comes from my university nicker, "Sunny" from the Sunayana. Also Gavaskar's book (Mum's a fan).

Lancelot said...

i like chennai too... been there a few times most recent was last winter right before the tsunami... it was fun going out in the evenings with friends not understanding a word of the language, and taking bets among ourselves as to whether we would make it back or not. Bangy is slightly easier coz i understand a little more of that language. Chennai is too hot though.

Sue said...

Lance: Where're you from, then? And Bong's not too tough to take if you know Hindi, I've always maintained. Just let your ear tune into the different accent, and most of the daily stuff's easy to follow.

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