Rediscovery

, , 6 comments

It’s been nearly six years since I started this blog. When it came about, I was fresh from Chennai, barely months into university in Singapore, and longing for anything to do with Chennai. The first thing that came to mind when I had to describe myself, thanks probably to the ‘orientation’ sessions in college, was ‘I’m from Chennai’. And it became the obvious name for my blog.

For years I bandied the name about, proudly flaunting Chennai-ness: yes, we’re from the best city, truly the cultural capital of India, what with its eclectic mix of everything: where you have jazz and kutcheries, boutiques and Pothys, Sathyam cinemas and Jayanthy theater, fusion cuisine and kaiyendhi bhavan, jeans and dhavani – you get the drift. Chennai was simply the best; warm, open, all embracing. Beaches, molaga bajjis, candy floss and kites. Kapali kovil and Mahabalipuram. Pallavan buses and flying trains. And most of all, Chennai was where home was.

Over the years, my definition of Chennai became vaguer and vaguer. Parents moved from Chennai to Ahmedabad to Chennai and now to (sigh!) Salem. Chennai became a pit-stop during my trips to India where all I got to see was the bit during the travel from the airport to my relatives’ at night, and from my relatives’ to the airport/train station in the morning to get to where my folks lived. During these rides, I’d take in everything ranging from the radio stations or the cell phone service providers (there seemed to be one new each time I was there), to the new Katthipara junction (‘They finally built it!’), to the BMW showroom. At those rare times I got to meet friends, we’d go to (or I’d hear them talk about) the latest hang out joints (Dosa Corner/Mocha) and how there’s even some place to do shisha (sheesh!). Slowly, thanks to staying away and being stuck with the same idea of Chennai that I had when I left, I felt like I didn’t know anything about my city. With home being away, Chennai felt even more different. There was no amma’s rasam to think of when I remembered Chennai, no friends from school left to meet and reminisce with, no songs on FM that I knew, and RJs and VJs and actors I had no clue about. My friends used tamil words I had no clue about. The Chennai that I knew, that is imprinted in my mind – of Lloyds Road-Sapphire bus stop-17M-North Usman Road-Hot Chips-Jayanthy Theater-MTR ice cream-lime soda salt-goli soda-Ranganathan Street-Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama-British Council-Kutcheri Road-Ambattur– is actually becoming a blur.

And I started wondering if there was any meaning in calling this blog Musings of the ‘Chennai gal’ anymore.

But I didn’t want to change it. In the weirdest of ways, it’s what keeps me connected. It helps me realize that come what may, Chennai is in many ways the same as it was six years ago. The chaos on North Usman Road, the koovum, the Adyar Bridge, the Karpagambal mess, Spencers Plaza, the Kapali kovil sannidhis, the Amman songs blasted on loudspeakers, the soan papdi man – these will always be there. Water will still taste salty, and roads will still always be dug up. The flying train will still be empty, bus conductors will still shout and swear, and auto drivers will still try their luck asking you to pay ridiculous amounts to take you two streets away. Church Park girls and New College boys will remain the same. There will still be a ‘jakkamma’ lady on the platform, and sundal boys in the beach. Autos will be loaded with school kids, and they will attend tuition classes. All girls will try a hand at Carnatic music and dance, and the hi-fi ones will go to Swingers. Energetic old uncles will go for morning walks. Colourful umbrellas will abound in September for Vinayaka, cheedai will be made for Krishna Jayanti, and parks with mustard seed plants will be made for Navaratri golus.

When so much of Chennai will stay the same, why should I reconsider my identity? And so I decided that I will remain the Chennai girl forever.

Cheers!

6 comments:

Kausikram Krishnasayee said...

cheers is old say. now a days we say "va quarter cutting"

Pa1 said...

Love Chennai! not the people though :(

Anupama Viswanathan said...

wow..what a lovely post! Glad to see you back in action on this blog! Keep it up, girl! :)

Terror #1 said...

What a post!!!!! I ain't a Chennai-ite...But I consider Chennai my second home and what a way to describe the place... Chennai is still the same as it was 6 even 10 yrs back. I came to Chennai 6 yrs back for college so I can relate to what you talk about. The city has changed in some ways. But like you said the essence of Chennai still remains... Will be back to see more posts...

Anonymous said...

you be the chennai girl, I will be the Madraskaari.
and oh we are both from DAV.

Anonymous said...

enjoy...

http://vijeejournalist.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/madrascalendar.pdf