If there is one city I am slightly scared of it is Chennai. First of all this is one city where I am completely dependent on others. I don’t get the language. People typically refuse to understand what I am saying and worse of all, there is no use of recording my researches as I will never be able to understand what they mean. That does make me sharper when I listen to the translators though.
The worse part of doing research in Chennai is perhaps sitting at a group with a translator where people talk for approximately 15 minutes and then my translator looks at me and says, “Oh they like soaps of SNDU.” (In case you have forgotten I work for SNDU, Sabun, Nakhun and Datun Unlimited). So why do they like it? 15 minutes more and a lot of “ amma” and “seri seri” later I am told again, “good product”. Well, I may be exaggerating a bit but frankly, when I am in Karnataka or in Andhra, the discussions and the translations take approximately the same times. But in Chennai? Never. In that way, the city is a lot like
Oh, the Mylapore Mamees! If there is one group of Indian women I would love to know all about, it must be them. The more I get to know them, the more awed I get. Such precision in their cooking, such adherence to their traditional ways of living is slowly fading out from the rest of our metros. Mylapore is so much like my
I also feel proud to be an engineer, if not by profession, but by qualification here. South of India is anyway the last refuge of engineering; North wouldn’t mind their children to go into Reality shows and host of interesting professions. East talks about IT and not the engineering variety, rather animation, West is finding a new love for entrepreneurship but the South! The Southern mothers are the last in
My first visit to Chennai was as a student, landing in the city in the dead of the night, negotiating with an auto driver with me saying “anna, what da!” and he saying, “Illa illa” Then every other auto driver coming and saying “seri seri” and “long go”, while the sleepy Rana thinking that they are saying Sorry for asking such an exorbitant fare from us.
By the time we reached the competition, where I kept asking if he knew where to go and he kept nodding, all I could think of “Seri Seri”. After all I would like to believe I am a very agreeable person by nature.
The other thing that always scared me in Chennai was this intense scrutiny by people at the airport. I have a ritual at every airport I frequent. In Chennai, it is sitting on the massage chair for 5 minutes without a care about the world around me. But when the chair stops and straightens up and I open my eyes I see the world staring at me. Maybe it’s not Chennai but
This time I saw Chennai in a new light. As soon as I entered the car, I realized that this city still loves its flowers. The bikers of
Chennai likes me, not the auto drivers maybe, but the normal people. They understand I am a lost visitor, I do not know the importance of Nalli Silks, but they appreciate that if I am in Chennai I will go to Murugan Idli Shop and the Saravana Bhawan and I will know the subtle differences between the sambhars in both the places.
After numerous visits to the city, I am probably no longer scared of Chennai. In fact, maybe one day I will live in Chennai as well and when you arrive in my house late one afternoon, will ask you, “Sore tingriya?”