Its quite surprising how it didn't hit me to write about namma madras until now.Must admit - all those random blogs that I have been reading are so much madrasified that it made me want to write about it ..as i saw it..and i still see it...
Being away from thai-land(yes, i mean motherland) is tough. It is,atleast for me. Im going to spare everyone of how-american-lifestyle-is-different-from-the-indian bhaashan - we all have heard variegated versions of it from our onnu vitta athais,cousins,annas & akkas living in US of A. For me, this is an opportunity to miss my hometown more and love it even more.
Im a hardcore madras-ian.Born in mylapore,brought up in Nanganallur (madras oda agraharam consisting of vengaya vadam podum raji maamis and narasus kaapi kudikum rajagopalan thathas) and Tiruvanmiyur - which i refer to as madras's Uptown,in just a banter to kalaasify West mambalam, my husband's area......singing 'enga area ulla varathe.." ? (we are all orey kuttais la oorina mattais boss..).
Except for a 3 years stay out of madras, again an opportunity im immensly thankful to (we were in Pune where I learnt Hindi and can manage pretty decently in front of a stereotypical delhi junta) nan valanthathu intha oorla thanungo!
What is it about this city that I love so much? A hard one to answer, that is. We become emotionally enmeshed with some places where we spend substantial years of our lives that we start loving them unconditionally. Yes, madras is not very clean. madras la Cooum keedhu. madras shantytowns are nightmarrish. madras la thanni prechnai.madras climate is at par with that of sunderbans.madras autowalas can easily make you mr/ms gullible! My jimble answer to these anti-madras cribbers - show me one city (in India) without these problems. However, I shall reconsider my stance over the autokaarans of madras. Agreed, they are not non-madrasi-friendly people. They will literally take you for a ride if you dont know to beram pesify (in tamil) a.k.a bargain rates.I have experienced the difference in Bangalore and Calcutta - they are a tad better there.
Parts of my early childhood when we lived in Kodambakkam, is something I cant recollect.The memory has shrunken to some old poochi-aricha photographs. The best part of my school days in madras, apart from yummy amma panna lunch (yes, i am theenipandaaram) is the richskaw travel and school van travel. I remember his name, our rickshaw mama - shekar anna! annathe sruti ethified (a.k.a boozed) almost every night and came late every morning to pick us up. I still remember one super-duper incident when namma shekhar mama lost control over his rickshaw and the vehicle did a horizontal somersault and i was thrown out! I landed right near the saakadai(gutter) and the rickshaw somehow was steered over my hands. Vehicles sort of dont seem to take to me. Few years later in 7th std, I slipped from the footboard of Pallavan, landing an inch beside the giant hind-wheels of the bus.
11th std 12th std lam nanga romba peter. Only Pizza Corner, Dominos,Baskin Robbins ya. Pizza Corner's Ubercool-red airplane-collision-style-architecture often made me wonder why it wasn't listed among the world's man made wonders...childhood you see. Makes you think big! Im also unendingly indebted to my dosthus for accepting my perennial rs.10 contribution to our group-theeni-scheme. Cool Cats in Besant Ngr, Planet Yumm near Bessie beach,Cafe Coffee Day near Bessie beach again became a few of our regular hangouts. Cannot forget the birthday treat given by peter machan Vivek at Shakes & Creams where I had this yummy ice cream called BROWN SUGAR which my pithaji mistook for you-know-what!
If there is a place I could recommend for best bajjis & samosas in town- it would be the asbestos sheet covered road side stall near Adyar Lifestyle! Nearly everyone in Adyar-Indra Nagar-Besant Nagar has had their samosas & cutlets and is wonly ahaah-oh-ho for it!!
I patronize Gandhi nagar GRAND SWEETS. It is a sin to not visit the Marina beach , to not eat in Saravana Bhavan and to not hit the Ranganathan street while in Madras..it is so too if you do not gulp one or two sweet paniyaarams or mosikkify badam halwas of Grand Sweets! There is just one word, may be two to describe their products - Quality & Freshness. Their service & logistics is comparable to that of dabbawalas. They cater to a never ending crowd everyday efficiently and you can imagine if its a pre-krishnajayanthi or pre-pongal/diwali day! Need one more thumbs-up point? They offer free venpongals and thayir sadhams in dhonnais to all visitors. Soru soru..saami soru podrango....!
From Adyar Sangeetha restaurant to RA Puram Cream Centre, from Triplicane Rathna cafe to Mylapore Karpagambal Mess --> I am love!!!
Whats teenage without a bessie beach?? Thanks to all the beach gods & devtas and to our state govt that there is no entry fee to our beaches! Its a poor man's entertainment and so was ours! Long untiring hours of beach mokkai and kadalai and some authentic madras-ian chaat food in Khana Khazana and Cozy - it was like experiencing heaven on earth! Truly, the food there is easy on the pockets, yummy on the tongue!
Time to get spiritual. Nanganallur houses Ardhanareerswarar (whoo!that was a tongue twister..) and Durgai Amman,Tiruvanmiyur for Marundeeswarar and Mylapore for Kabaleeswarar. Madras is a temple town! Im sure there are umpteen more number of famous temples here which as you can see Im not aware of-thanks to the not-adakamana-iyer athu ponnu in me.
I realize i have turned this post into a virtual tour guide. Couldn't help it though :-)
With more than two decades of my life spent here, Madras is as indigenous to me as my family. The sense of affinity and belonging I feel to this city is plainly immeasurable. I am the walking & talking example of the word nostalgia - esp. when I read blogs ,columns & news about madras ..ok, chennai... when people say something about it,or when someone asks me about my hometown. There isn't a day I don't miss it.
Early morning walks with amma, appa's untiring pouring over The Hindu,school and friends,maths tuition and the likes and all that obiness associated,thathas-paatis-cousins,T.nagar shopping,road side shops bargaining,the sigh of relief on seeing CHENNAI CENTRAL STATION (to-chennai journey only),aabice and aabice makkal,seemingly never ending bus journeys,kovils and prasadams,annais and vennais, gorilla-bus -conductor and thiruttu-moonji autokaarans, Mayajaal-Devi-Sathyam theatres,enga ooru Thyagaraja theatre,O-saamiyo korathis and 'Hey Dude..' peterss,Spencer to Saravana stores shopping- spree- aunties, IIT-M pandus(read: fruit a.k.a nerd), namma Pallavan bus to adjust-please-shareautos, Marina beach and Bessie beach, Gandhi silai,Nehru silai and Kanamal pona kannagi silai, OMR and ECR, Saravana Bhavan and numerous kaiyendhi bhavans, TASMAC,Pulimark,Agmark,"aatha maths la naan zero mark", Thalaivar ku cutout,current pona Blackout!, (adada... kavidhai kavidhai....!!), December masa katcheri and mazha- vandha- moozhgum velachery, Airport,MRTS and CMBT, kozhukattais and kozha-adi-sandais, AVM studio and All India Radio, kathipara junction and kalaignar veetu function..............the list is seriously endless.
All in all...I am a proud Chennai-ite and will always be. Heres to the Crazy-Happening-Energetic-Naiice-Nember 1- Amazing-Iconic city....Love you!!!