My Singara Chennai - 2006
You can build pesudo-modern IT buildings all over the place; bring down bungalows and build flats at every possible place; you may see more people driving a car than bike on the streets; you may see college kids running to CCF (Cafe Coffee Day) after college every evening...ya this is the modern Chennai that the city is trying to evolve into...but what it doesn't realize is that nothing can take the son-of-soil out of the Chennai-ites.
People in lungis, people waking up early in the morning to wash their doorway to draw fresh kolam everyday, people sneering at girls in jeans, 10 people stopping to give you directions to a place when you asked one guy for it, the lady at a mall following you around to make sure you have a pleasant shopping experience as well as no shop-lifting experience (annoying!), all remain the same from then to now! Which is essentially the beauty of Chennai. The place might change, and the name of the city might change, names of streets might change, but the people don't. Yes we are the sons and daughter's of the soil!
The tradition laden people still holding to the cultural values very close to their heart and leading their lives similar to the mega-serials are aplenty. The month of marghazhi is still celebrated albeit being commercialized, people talk of months in Tamil names, you can see them going to the temple on Friday evenings, and the jasmine doesn't smell any better than it does in the state of Tamilnadu and no one can deny that.
Girls look willfully at the ads for 'winter' clothes in Chennai that are omnipresent in the city's hoardings and stick to their usual jeans and kurta or salwar and once in a while you also get to see the pavadai dhavani (half-saree). Boys are still following the "old wine in a new bottle" tradition and girls are still trying hard to break the dress code set up by the moral police. Ya somethings don't change...ever!
I loved it absolutely, the traffic is so much better than Bangalore and Bombay. Also there are still many streets in Chennai where you don't see people 24/7 (like you do in Bombay). The shopping as usual was a steal, wonderful clothes and awesome handicrafts stores...and the cinemas...better still the cinema posters...just love that creativity and it is all still there...oh and did I mention the beach? I could not venture into the water (again!) but well I made the driver driver past the ocean and it was well worth the time and effort. The food...gosh! The food! Seriously was the most fun part of the whole trip, from Saravana Bhavan, Sangeetha Apoorva, Anjappar and all way to Mainland China, everything tasted great. My stomach could not digest more than six meals a day else I would have covered more restaurants!
Ah! The Chennai and its sons and daughters of soil and the great food they all prepare with loads of love and affection...I miss it already!!!