Chennai Diaries – part I


A Mumbai soul surviving in Chennai…

My first visit to Chennai was in February… the month of love and I was actually dreaming of following my partner’s footsteps to land up in Chennai… away from Aamchi Mumbai, not knowing it will be a world so different than Mumbai Meri Jaan where I blissfully spent almost a decade! So there I was to do a reiki of the place to convince myself to leave the City of Dreams and land up in City Of……. Tamilians?

The first glimpse of Chennai was from the airplane window and the coconut trees seen in abundance from atop impressed me. “Chennai is nice and green, and more eco-friendly,” I told myself, and was transported to the fantasy world calculating the number of years the fresher air will add to our lives… ghrrr…..  THUD!! Cut to Chennai Airport.

The airport (thanks to the recent revamp) was huge with modern exteriors and it strengthened my belief in the FACT that Chennai is a metro city… Whoa! But everything after that was a culture-shock, to say the least.

For the next five hours in the taxi alone (husbands have work!), with a No-Hindi-No-English-Tamilian-chauffeur, I struggled to find my way navigating the city. If it was not Google Maps on my I-phone, I would have taken the flight back to Mumbai the same day! Thank God (read Steve Jobs), for small mercies.

After spending half a day in the city and witnessing the simple people living a simpler life, I felt no less than a fashion diva from Mumbai! Chennai is a traditional city and I thought to myself may be their fashion sense lies beneath (read Bata and Jockey). The sight of showrooms for these brands was as common as a Vada Pao stall in Mumbai ….aha perhaps that is why people from Madras are famous for their chappals? (pun intended)

The sight of moving traffic even in peak hours was a refreshing change and with an eagle eye I was reading all the display boards — ‘Rs 9999/- for a trip to Bangkok’, NOT BAD! I had found my calling!😛

Communicating in broken English to the localites and limiting the conversation to “how far”, “how much” actually made me feel like I was in Bangkok, sans the shopping scene and tall towers. Sigh!

From Guindy to Adyar to Thiruvanmiyur and from the high-profile Raja Annamalaipuram to the happening Kilpauk, Nungabakkam and Besant Nagar I went kilometers ahead on the famous ECR – East Coast Road (yes, the one that takes you to Pondicherry!), scouting for a good (read cosmopolitan) school for my Mumbai-bred, tech-addict, 6-year-old.

In my heart…  I was actually looking for one reason to make Chennai my home. They say ‘Love knows no reason’, so I will also not try to look for one!

I will program my mind to lock this thought, while I come back with more memories…

–          By Ekta Sharma Bhatnagar