Thursday, June 11, 2009

This one is for you Meena...

I don't want you to think that I ignored your long comment. I was just taking time to address it correctly. So, I am cutting and pasting your comment here and will try and answer it in my next post. But can my friends who read this blog also help add to my content, correct me, or discuss with me please first. Have any of your irrespective of your city or state of birth share similar stories? please? Since I also see myself as a victim of stereotype I sometimes fail to see the story on the other side, so please enlighten me.

Here is the comment:

Hi Anu,

Thanks da for your long sweet reply. Yes it helped but you know what my problem is? I have all this anger and when time comes to give back like you said you do, I get tongue tied. Then when I am back home I keep hitting myself for not saying the right things. More than such people I end up hating myself. I am working on lowering my anger and speak right in such situations but I get too emotional because some one is putting down my birth place ( chennai), the place I grew up in, the place where I got educated, the place that gave me so many memories, the place that made me what I am and the place that i simply love. what really boils my blood is when people who have not even set foot in Chennai comment and laugh about how people there cant speak proper english or speak hindi with an accent or how orthodox or whatever crap prejudice they have. And I have travelled a lot in India and find that there is almost the same situation in UP, Bihar, AP, Gujarat even Delhi and Bombay have their flaws.. but I don;t go critisizing about a place when someone is from that state. It is so juvenile, immatured and beneath do I retort to something like" hey Chennai does not even have hip pubs/dicsos" etc. I am like, you have not even been there..!!! It is just too kiddish. So I just walked away and broke that friendship. Was not worth it !!

We are supposed to be a secular country and yet so SO divided. Even among the educated so called forward class. Shame on such people. I can only imagine how the poor class must be so fanatic about religion and caste and creed.

Sorry for the long comment, I seriously should vent all this in my own blog.

Angry, sad, frustrated, and hating myself for not being able to atleast act cool and reply back to such people instead of fuming and getting tongue tied and then saying all the right things in my head at home !!!


Thanks people. I will reply to you M in a separate post. I do not want to make this post long and verbose.

Peace out


sid said...

I agree that there are lots and lots of misconceptions about chennai. I had my own. So, I got a chance to visit Chennai twice. I gone there and experienced an altogether different country.

It's not that I hate south. I lived in Hyderabad and Bangalore and I love both the places. To give you details of my problem, few points are must to tell:

1. I landed up in a land where no one was willing to understand my language. Hindi or English. I never faced this problem in any other part of the country.

2. One of my Tamil friend told me later that its not hate for hindi, its love for their native language that keeps Tamils away from English or Hindi. When we cannot communicate with each other, how can we form a bond of brotherhood.

3. I agree Auto drivers are bad in Delhi also. So, no point in crying about the treatment that Chennai drivers gives you.

4. I kept looking for an average north indian meal but I got none. I asked many people in Hindi and English about a decent hotel but treatment given was nothing to cheer about!!

5. So, the criticism chennai faces is not entirely baseless. If Chennai can be more cosmo politan with the natives opening their arms for person from other states and try understand their language, it can also be a place like Hyderabad and Bangalore

vimmuuu said...

Im not a Chennaite, but I get wild if anyone speaks bad about Chennai, its people, its language, the movies, anything for that matter.

I feel the same when anyone speaks ill about my native place also.

Some do it for fun, some do it because they are totally ignorant. I hate such people !!

sid said...


Hats off to your sentimental blabbering. I agree , I will hate anyone if anyone points to the bad points of my native place. However, facts are facts and one must accept them

SpongeBob said...

All the points that you have said is applicable to any other city not just in India, all over the world.
Point 1: Lets say, I get a chance to visit Japan or France. The first thing I would do is learn a few words in Japanese/French, 'cos I know that not everyone there would understand English.
In case, I do not know the exact word, I would choose the right person to ask, like, in chennai, I would ask an acquaintance or friend, an ATM guard(who most likely knows english) or a person with a tie and a suitcase (who is most likely a sales rep. and knows english) not anyone on the road.

Point 4: I would like to be a Roman in Rome. If I were visiting a new place, I would try to eat something new that I haven't had. Anyways thats your personal liking.

When we go to a different country, we do not go with the idea that they should welcome you with open arms, rather we try to fit into that society.
You language changes, you smile at a stranger and say 'Hello', you start to obey traffic lights diligently, you say 'thank you'. We go out of our way to get accepted.

Why don't we do that in our own country?

I have been reading about this 'city fights' too much and this is the first time (and most likely the last time)I am commenting.
My reaction, when someone starts a 'city fight', Smile and change the topic :)

Love your blogs.

sid said...

@SpongeBob ,

First flaw that I see your argument is that this is my own country, not , some Japan, France or Hongkong.
And FYI, I had been to all these countries and found ppl were either able to communicate in English or atleast they sincerely tried to understand my Tooti-Footi French or Chinese (only a few words)...
I found these missing in Chennai. I also found those friendly gestures missing which was the main reason for my indifference to know this city more. Else, I have made sincere attempts to know other cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Suchi said...


I see your point that within your own country you should be able to communicate (unlike going to France or elsewhere).

However, I have to agree with SpongeBob that this problem is not something you see only in Chennai - it applies to other cities within India too. No mention of particular city names (I don't want to annoy anyone here), but I have been to a few where they won't talk in any other language other than their state language (and also refuse to speak in Hindi).

Oh well - some day we'll all get along :)

sid said...


I find it hard to accept as I travelled in MP, UP, Gujrat, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Rajasthan, Maharashtra (some interior parts don't know much Hindi but they dont claim to be a metro as well) Punjab and even Karnataka also have good hindi speaking population.
One of my Tamil friend said very frankly that Tamils consider Tamil as greatest language and superior than other languages. My mother tongue is Marathi but I do not see it as superior or inferior to other languages. I love both Hindi and Marathi. So, if there is superiority complex then how can a new bond of friendship be formed.

One has to have a common medium of communication to share their thoughts , their culture and then there will be no such gaps.

Anu Russell said...

Meena tried really hard to post her comment but somehow this page was not working in her favor. So she has responded to you Sid and it is under the post, "I like it Hot."

But I am cutting and pasting it here so that it will make it easy for you to read...

Hi Anu,

Thanks for taking the time out to address my frustrations. I will look forward to your follow up post.
in your point 1. - You said you have not faced it in any other part of the country?? seriously?? Have you been to Bihar? Assam?? And people there spoke in English with you ??? You might say that knowing Hindi is mandatory. But what about the uneducated? who form the mass of the population? 75% in India is blow poverty line. You expect them to sit and learn Hindi? When the educated ones like you have a better opportunity to learn the language of the state you will be working in? Have you heard of being a Roman in Rome?

2. Same as above. If you are interested in bond of brotherhood, it would have shown had you even attempted to learn a few tamil words and speak in broken tamil to make 'brothers'. But no, no one would do that, it's beneath them you see ..everyone wants it their way or highway. Don't think I am just preaching, this applies to me too, because when I go to another state on work, I do carry a language conversion book and atleast make an attempt ( however bad) to speak in their language. And you will be amazed how much it touches them and how soon they throw in whatever little english or hindi they know to form a connection and try their best to help you. That's how you form brotherhood and not by criticizing or showing superiority and waiting for the other person to bend first, it does not take you or the other party anywhere but remain prejudiced and build animosity and grudge.

--to be contd --

Anu Russell said...

Your point #4. Oh cmon!! Any mediocre hotel (even a non tamilian wont miss Saravana Bhavan) will have the basic roti and daal and gobi manchurian. Chennai is such a big metro, I am not sure if you know this but it is the fourth largest city in India !! and has soooo many hotels every 2 feet. Many named as Dhabbas even. Most hotels have their names in English and so are the menus. One google search will give you plenty of options. Even people in non-IT sector use Google !! And you are talking like you are from the 50s.

I don't know vimmmuu at all. But just the fact that you did not even have the basic courtesy and good manners to not call someone's opinion as "blabbering" itself means you are not rational. Nowhere in Vimmuu's comment does he say anything bad about your opinion and has shown respect. If you had reciprocated it and still said what you wanted to, your comments and opinions would have had much more weightage.

Well,can you state some good points too about Chennai? for someone who had observed so much, and has listed so many points, if you are a balanced person and not biased, there has to be some good ones you experienced and noticed... can you tell? Lets see to what level you have observed?

---to be contd --

Anu Russell said...

I am not saying Chennai is great, Chennai is this and that...all I am saying is..all places have their pluses and minuses, Chennai is one of them. It is in no way inferior than other places like people project it. Yes, it was very orthodox and some places still are like that in Chennai. There are stubborn, fanatic, not-so-modern people. But all this is there in all states too. If there are less fanatic people in another states, then there will be some other negative point in that state that outbeats Chennai. Simple. In the end it all amounts to the same. It finally boils down to the kind of people on an individual basis. Based on an individual and not a community as a whole. Based on your education, family upbringing, personality that led you do research on your own and not follow what others say and an individual analytical mind that actually THINKS !!

Finally, as a example, have you been to France or spoken to anyone who visited the place? They are such fanatics that they wont speak a single English word with you. It is either their way or high way. And what do you expect? That you visit their place and they should speak to you in your language??? But when it comes to France, I am sure you will carry a translation book, smile at everyone and try your best to fit in and come back with loads of good memories of the French Riviera and what not. And that's only because *you* tried to fit in.

When it comes to Chennai, what were your attempts to fit in and show some brotherhood ???


shilpa said...

Commenting little late......
Sid seems like he is a little too biased against Chennai.
1. Hindi might be a national language but it is only for the sake of saying. It is easy for people of hindi/punjabi/hindi variant/marathi speaking states to learn/understand hindi but south indian languages are way different.
4. I am sure there are 100s of north indian food places in chennai...i am SURE. they might not be as north-like as you want to be, but so are the so-called dosa places in mumbai or anywhere cannot find the same style of cooking everywhere na?
5. the very fact that chennai has so many SEZs and software parks and multinational companies shows you that chennai has been open to outsiders. SO it might be a little slow, it is a traditional and conservative place but try to know a place a little more. Have you been to Trivandrum? Maybe you should.

Sorry for hogging the comment space ART.

Anu Russell said...


Thank you so much for commenting. And thanks for all the valuable inputs. I hope Meena feels better that not everyone stereotypes Chennai.

I have written a post to address M's woes as well as those of Sid's...Sid please do not take it personally. Since you stood up and spoke your thoughts I have voiced my opinions answering your points. This is in no way to make you feel bad but just to tell you that we are different from you but nice too just like you are :)

Thanks junta.

sid said...


The word 'Blabbering' is highly regretted. However, I am very much enjoying an open hearted conversation going around here.

Obviously, barring a few personal verbals that we are getting into, all other arguments are very rational and appeals to me to read more and learn accordingly. I will surely come up with a detailed post shortly encompassing all these views and then my take on those.
Well, When I say my take, It might a U-turn in my baised view too (And yes, I am still thinking very highly of me and do think the same for all of you!!)

Vimmu, personal apologies mate, you must have been pissed at word 'Blabbering' :-)

sid said...


I missed to read your comment about France!! And this one really makes me wonder, should I consider myself an outsider in Chennai like I felt in France. When I visited France few months back, I was lucky to go on a trip and felt happy but I always kept reminding myself, this is not my place. I feel the same outsider feeling in Hong Kong and as am moving to London after a 2 years gap, I will feel the same over there too.

However, When I was in India last year, I never felt that I am an outsider. Even if when one Auto driver called me a northie. I always feel at home in Bangalore or even in Hyderabad and always say, this is my country and these are my people!!

I want to feel the same when I visit Chennai but the egocentric people like my fellow bloggers do not put aside their towering egos and their superiority or inferiority complex for a second. Instead, they jump on the ppl who points at these points and thats where all the hope of feeling at home ends!!

Ciao, last comment from my side....
If you sttil feel am a hardcore and adamant guy, do let me know by reading my posts at

There will be a post on chennai shortly over there

Anu Russell said...


First of all, it was not me who wrote anything about France. But regardless the point is that no one should feel like an outsider in their own country. Period.

I am so glad that you came out to discuss a sensitive issue like this and be the only one to stand up and tell what you feel like.

Once again I sincerely insist that you go to Chennai with no prejudice and try and learn just three words in Tamil and talk to people with those and see and I hope you see a change to tell me that Chennai is not as bad a place as you think.

My main gripe about people talking bad about Chennai is that they tell you that it is a sucked up city and when we try and defend it they start trying to convince me and later getting upset with me. I have had people sympathize me because I am from how do you think that would make us feel.

And once again, like all stereotypes...we (most Chennai-ites) feel that people are banning our home without giving us a second chance.

Hyderabad and Bangalore speak Hindi Sid, Chennai does not. That might make the whole difference to you...but remember music and our stomachs know no languages...we eat when we are hungry and if a Korean song can appeal to me then why not Chennai, it is after all your own country too right?

I hope we ended the whole issue in a positive note for you as well as for others...

Thanks y'all.

Dilip Muralidaran said...

@Sid: I've been living in delhi for a few months now and im going back in a few weeks. Here is my experience in the Capital of my nation.

1. People are surprised when i say im from Chennai. They say "sir ji, aap achchi hindi bolthe hain, aap gore dikthe hain". Get it? I'm not black and i speak good hindi. This is a stereotype highly educated MBA's in a prestigious company have about me.

2. I find delhi to be lovely. Yes i have complaints about how dusty gurgaon is where im staying and traffic sucks but then so does chennai and bangalore.

3. I'm tired of eating dhaal & jeera rice and long for sambar but hey, i can adjust and im not complaining and no, i dont hunt for south indian food here. I'll eat whatever my guests serve me or whats on my hotels menu card.

4. I ask people whats fun thing to do. I went to the Qutub Minar, watched Michael Jacksons "This is It" in Select Citiwalk Mall, planning to go to Jumma masjid soon.

5. Any place in chennai u can find paani poori vendors. You can also find road side samosa + jelebi stalls. Also all hotels serve biriyani, which is a fav north indian food as well (i eat it in delhi everyday!) and 100% of all hotels have chapathi (roti) and kurma. I see not where your problem is. Maybe use your questioning skills next time and ask the waiter/server?

These are a couple of things i try and do not just outside of chennai in india but to any country i travel to and i can say i've traveled south east asia well. I keep traveling for work, frequently.

I've been to Punjab and HP. I dont speak the punjabi laanguage but a "paa ji" and "dhanyavaadh ji" (although it may sound funny) has made things happen for me. I've been to the gurudwara in paonta sahib and everyone loved talking to me, i helped stir a pot of kheer in their kitchen and did some work with other punjabi people. Its how you get along.

I'm sure auto drivers understand english if u dont speak to fast and break it down for them. I've got asian friends who visit chennai often and get around with no issues. They neither know tamil nor hindi but they know how to say "anna" (brother in tamil) and "Nanri" (thank you) when they get off the auto. You should learn this one word "anna", it does not hurt much, i promise.

Chennai is NOT cosmopolitan. Get over it. I would love it to be cosmo but its not, its conservative. Don't fucking try change a place because you dont like it. Thats being hitler, it does not work. If you dont like chennai, please dont come. If you cant avoid coming dont blame chennai, crib to the wall in your hotel room or an amit_123 friend from mumbai who hates chennai as much as you do.

Finally, chennai folks are not warm? Dude, no where in india can i randomly walk around in a mall and point my big DSLR camera at people (im talking of educated well dressed people, not beggards or janitors) and shoot pics and when i put my camera down, i get back a smile. It happens only in chennai and to a small extent in bangalore. Thats how friendly people in tamilnadu are. Try doing that in delhi or mumbai, good luck if the women dont slap you on the face.

What chennai'tes hate however is stereo-typical north indians who yell at south indians or look frustrated after repeating the same thing in hindi & english and walking away from a conversation in a rude fashion. I get the feeling, you are of that kind. I've seen them many times and its not a thing tamilians who are proud with honor, like to be subjected to.