This blog is destined to be quite long, so unless you enjoy reading or are obliged to for some unknown reason, you may skip it, and I am not going to make it any shorter thinking about you.
I have been staying in Chennai for an year and a month, that started on 3rd July, 2009 and is destined to end tomorrow on the 13th of August,2010. Incidentally, I am moving to New Delhi, while India prepares for the Independence Day. (unrelated)
How did it all begin? Well, I had the least little idea about what to do after I finished with my college in the May of 2009. All that I knew was I had to get money. I could't live off my parents any further. Anyway, I got a job after the first few days of campus placements (Dec'08). I had no idea what the job would be like. I didn't even know where the posting would be. I knew all are equally sucking, some more sugar-coated. I came to know during the interviews, that I ll be deported to the southern part of India, somewhere near Chennai. I got selected somehow. At that point of time, everything seemed far off and I had some other things to worry about (to pass out of college, I had a feeling I could flunk in my final year project and stay for another year in KGP). I somehow had no clue what would save me from that, except some divine intervention, considering my own efforts in that direction were not much of a choice for me!
I did pass out of college.However by then, I was having a turmoil in my personal life, I was getting over that. I arrived at Chennai a couple of days before my joining date.
I would not spend much time bothering anyone including myself about what my job was like. I am trying to forget it. Infact, I would have to remember it again, when I land up for some interview in future and lie about what I learnt in the one year I worked in the company, where I did. But I just hope, I meet some chilled out person, with some sense, and a little sense of humour, who would recruit me one day and would not ask such questions. (In that 70s show, Steven Hyde gets one). But it's too much to ask for. Anyway, let's talk about something else.
What all comes to my mind tonight, when I look back over the last one year at Chennai, may be are the highlights of my stay over there. I can see some places flashing in my mind, some faces that come by and some desolate hours that are still haunting me.
I would not blabber about the obvious. Day to day life is not so much fun like a movie or a theater and not even similar to what we like to believe it is. I would skip the mundane stuff and the serious stuff that contributed to the major part of life, which I wish I could have done away without (but, it is never so anywhere).
Rather I would talk about the moments, the people, the places, the situations which made me feel a little excited or amazed or totally frustrated.
Anything in life can be broadly classified into two subsets, unless you are a hypocrite to the core or you really can possess and express the feeling of indifference. Those two discrete classifications are: you like it or you don't. I am sure of myself that I exhibit a lot of indifference in my own life towards certain things, fluctuating over time nonetheless. So, we would also talk about certain critical aspects of Chennai, which I am really indifferent to (I didn't care about).
The things about Chennai which I liked:
1. The sea:
Infact, I had to walk for some 5-8 mins from my place of stay and I reached the beach. It's an awesome luxury for someone who is "hydro-philic' like me. In fact, it was the right distance as for me, to light a fag and by the time I reached the beach, it just got over. I call it the optimum distance :P.
2. The Ladies Night at Ten Downing Street:
It was the first time in my life I crashed into some place where I was least invited. Ya, somewhere in August'09, Rajesh, Geetansh and I managed to get inside TDS by asking gals, whom we didnt know, to help us entering the pub, as stags were not allowed on the Ladies Night. Thereafter, we were never tired or demotivated to repeat it. And amazingly, as I look back, we did it successfully every time we tried. On a serious note, it's interesting to note how often success is just directly dependent on a wholehearted attempt. We did hit upon random gals. We never landed up behind the bars. But finally one day got kicked out. And there was Raj with me and Rajesh that day. We got back to Thiruvanmiyur, three of us on a single bike from 10 D directly. Thereafter, a little drunk as I was, I blabbered a lot of arbit (historic) stuff about Chengiz Khan lying on the beach. Intoxication made them to listen to me. Rationality drives people away from one another. Cheers to Rajesh Gupta!
3. La Magica at Mahabalipuram:
Any motorized vehicle would take you to Mahabs within an hour from Chennai, unless you met with an accident in between. We discovered an awesome place to stay(cheap and comfortable and with a sea view) and it had a sexy roof top restaurant that served no less awesome sea food along with chilled beer. It's right on the beach and you would find a lot of foreigners around you, which would be a "drooling factor" for married or unmarried, starved or well-fed Indians (men and women alike).
4. Murugan Idli Shop:
Quality food, extraordinary chutneys.
5. East Coast Road (ECR):
I lived in the eastern parts of India mostly and to me an Audi or BMW or a Mercedes convertible or a Volvo or a Chrysler are only brands whose logos I have been seeing for quizzing purposes. But to see them so regularly on road in India, was quite unexpected to me until I happened to stay close to the ECR.
6. Sea Shell on Gream's Road:
I have to give my thanks to Baba aka Swarnendu (in this birth) for grilling us often to taste the grilled chicken over there which ultimately I had for a couple of times before leaving Chennai. Also to mention the Arabian Falooda, was equally amazing.
7. Grounded at Adyar:
I started playing pool over here and mastered it to some unembarassing level soon. Thanks to Beriya & Mayank for company. I loved the sandwiches over here, specially the potato chips supplement.
The first time I went to this place, I loved it. I liked it always. There was something about this place apart from the gals one can see over here, that made me feel good every time I did come over. Mocha was good, so was Casa Piccola and the myriad of shops and eateries in and around. Opal Inn at the Ranjith Hotel, next to the Taj Coromandal stands out to be the best eating place I have been to, in Chennai. A little ahead of that was the Calcutta Pan shop and Ganpat's. (Thanks to Anirud I came to know about these places)
9. The occasional train ride to Paranur (Mahindra World City):
In case I missed my office bus, the most convenient of all the horrible alternatives present was the local train from Guindy to Paranur/SP Koil. Nevertheless, how horrible it seemed from back at Thiruvanmiyur, the local train always had something in it, to cheer me up. Be it the occasional random Infy gals or the cool breeze blowing despite the blazing sun, or just my mp3 player. In extreme scenarios, I have the god given talent of finding a reason to be happy on board the train, to stand on the footboard and lean outward.
10. Pupil Burger at Besant Nagar & Elliot Beach:
These places are very much unlike to what someone who don't suggest you to go to Chennai thinks of it. I mean these are places where you feel a little elated may be due to some 'colonial' genetic impulses we have acquired/inherited. Basically, excellent location.
The Things about Chennai which I did not like:
1. The Auto Fares:
Well, the thumb rule in Chennai is to pay less than or equal to the half of the amount the Autowallas are going to demand. How you are going to arrive at that depends on your negotiation skills! A true test of character, one over which you can select your partner for sure.
2. The radio only aired one English channel and no Hindi radio station.
For God's sake, have mercy on us! They expect people to drive that far on ECR for Mayajaal!
It could be so much better, with so many people looking for a weekend getaway. So much potential to tap in the money people are wanting to spend to get over loneliness and dissatisfaction.
4. Ananthraman's Dogs:
The first house we put up in Tambaram was not quite great. To add to the woes, the landlord Mr. Ananthraman had two miserable dogs who never quite got used to anyone staying in their house and needed almost no provocation to jump at you or sniffle at you for your lifetime, till you got frustrated and just jumped off the terrace.
5. Rajkrishna Raman's obscure way of thinking and screwed up perspectives before he met me:
I think I have just explained myself above and later when he changed, I found it better in all respects.
6. The meetings with the Japanese (the i-meetings or video conferences):
Btw, I was working in Nissan. The worst experience was when some Japanese came all the way to tell us how horrible India is (ie you are too) and that too blatantly. He could have sugar coated it like some Americans/Britishers would.
7. The spurious cigarettes and the TASMAC conspiracy:
There is a finitely large probability of finding spurious cigarettes in Chennai. An expert regular smoker can tell the difference.
Worse than that is, only liqour produced in Tamil Nadu can be sold inside the state. And, they produce only a limited range, that too only inferior quality ones. So for Vodka, you have Romanov, for beer, only KF and for whisky, Signature and at best, you get Teachers. There is nothing more. Or you go to some high end bar or pub to get your desired liqour that makes your senses flexible to the desired extent! This is quite horrible despite the fact, now a days, I don't consume much alcohol.
8. The ignorance of the people of the state about Busty:
Busty is known to the ordinary people as Sunil Kumar. However, for the fortunate ones, who have come to know about him, they have accepted his theory about " The world and The Stuff" and stand before him in awe. For the rest, I have much detest.
If you don't understand movies like Inception, then you need to meet Busty because much before it was screened, Busty had figured it out all about dreams and states in which our minds can stably dwell. To hell, those who dont know about Busty! The golden boy from Bangalore can be the next big thing in Chennai after Rajnikanth if his ideas are popularized and propagated through suitable media.
9. Landlords and house-owners who gave flats on rent, in general.
10. The Standing Junta in the Public Buses
Guys or junta in general would stand with their faces towards the left hand section of the bus, while standing on the right hand section of the bus on the aisle looking towards where the females would sit. Mostly, they would do it unconsciously I assume. But to me, it seemed odd, why people would stand with their back towards the passengers who are sitting, and their faces turned towards the other side. One generally keeps a watch if some one is getting up or not. This phenomenon is quite contrary to the standing configuration or posture maintained in a crowded Kolkata bus, where I hail from. Not that I mean people in Kolkata are any more civilized.
The things about Chennai which I am indifferent to:
1. The Language:
The most common cause of antipathy of a North Indian in a South Indian city is the Language.
I managed without any notable discomfort except for the one occasion when I had to shave my head due to some miscommunication between the barber and me over shaving my beard.
2. The Food:
I love Vadas and the occasional idli, even sometimes dosai too. I loved the poriyal and the more-something (no point even if I manage to pronounce it or spell it :P). But I would not miss them much, once I am out of Chennai.
3. The average looks of the female population:
Once someone important to me, said " The more the important the thing is, we don't discuss it". So I have made a habit of discussing things which have some significance in my life.
Well, after some torrid years in a sleepy beautiful town in West Bengal, however, the successful Kgpian expresses himself eloquently, the smell of abstinence does come out smoothly to any sensitive 'nosy' individual. Having acquaintances with people who would be otherwise ashamed to talk about their opinions in a public forum, despite the inner understanding among people about their opinions, I still remain quite indifferent to the average not so good looking females one encounters in the city of Chennai (leave the Tam Brams and the Mallus and the other migrants).
4. The people don't speak Hindi:
I know English. They speak English. We talked.
5. The Weather:
India is quite hot everywhere, except in the hills. And most of the population live in the plains. So India is a typically hot country, with high humidity in some places to accompany. Chennai is no exception and it's not a desert like Thar. So I didn't feel any more bad than I felt travelling in Kolkata or some other parts of India. As for winters, Chennai is comfortable, it's not freezing.
Otherwise, get an AC. I had one at my place of stay.
An year it was at Chennai that saw me growing in years and decaying as an individual as is the general rule. I had a lot of fun, a lot of agony, some isolation, some moments of glory, some bitterness, some struggles, some despair, some relief, quite a bit of freaking out, lot of frustration and a close escape on my bike ride to Pondicherry on 20th of December 2009 when I met with an accident. This was an year I read a lot of books, specially read about Nietzsche, got totally cynical, fought with people and raged war of words, enlightened myself and the people around me till they had enough of me. However, as all good things and bad things and everything else come to an end, my stint at Chennai is over for the time being.