Tuesday, October 8, 2013 | By: Anamika

Chennai diaries

I moved to Chennai last week. My first week in a metro. I stay at a PG located very close to an IT hub, on the side of a beautiful street, a place like no where , a place where you could expect a hero like Karthik would see Jessy for the first time and start off the hosanna song. One side of the street is barren land, with lonely trash cans place here and there. On the other side are apartments that give off a homely feeling. Next to my PG is a huge house with two Fords jam packed in the porch, a drowsy golden retriever and an old man who sits next to goldy.

                The mornings in Chennai are hot dusty and noisy. The hot sun, speeding vehicles, daily wagers, professionals, everybody seems to be in a conspiracy to make it the worse morning of my life. The peak hours of traffic, the crowd in the bus, tamil songs playing loud on the cellphones, indecipherable bus numbers and unpronounceable place names, my futile attempts at reading English versions of tamil bill boards, it is a whole new world out here. I love the way we make faces while trying to pronounce “Dindikul thalappakatti brrriyanii”, I keep mumbling words like “nanban da”, ”vanthitten da” at all the inappropriate occasions. My arguments with auto drivers about the fare is a sight of sheer entertainment for the bystanders, for none of them would understand what exactly I said along with the tone or the expressions on my face. They never seem to be in sync. Perks of not knowing the language **sigh**.

            Chennai has wide service roads and I am reliably informed that they are for broken vehicles waiting to be towed away later. But these roads are mostly invaded by cars, trucks, dogs, humans and street vendors, not to mention the crap (literally) that adorn the beautifully paved roads. The concept of footpath is virtually non existent here. They are encroached by the shops on the side. So, a pedestrian  by definition is someone more like super Mario who jumps over obstacles(being manholes, human/dog/cow shit, sleeping dogs/cows, drunk men who found solace on the pavement ) or moves to the nearest available free space just in time for a truck (that keeps honking)to pass by.

          Every working day I see people hurrying down the streets holding Tupperware kits packed with lunch, wearing an ID card and earphones plugged in , all dressed up in formals. The buses are so crowded that many a times I have found myself clinging to the door of the bus with all the strength and praying to spare my life to see my grandchildren. I can almost hear the inner demon yelling out “do not try this at home” to the fortunate ones standing on the road . Every multiplex movie theatre comes in 120 bucks, there is an outlet that sells fried chicken of sorts in every 500 m distance, not to mention the so damn expensive coffees outlets that makes me wonder what coffee beans are actually made of. It never made sense why I had to pay VAT and even worse educational cess and higher educational cess on every thing that’s billed. Heck I dint even do a higher education after Btech :/   Then there are good Samaritans who translate tamil for me, shows the way around, cobblers who offer their umbrella while I am getting mine fixed when the sun is burning hot on my head, fruit vendors who smile at me for no apparent reason, strangers who pull me away from a speeding vehicle, “akka”s who offer to hold my heavy bag in the bus…

Now, I find a familiarity in this strangeness, a feeling of belonging in the crowd, something inexplicable that keeps me away from the pangs of homesickness, something that tells me I am fine here,that I am not so bothered about the sun tan or the hair loss due to salt water,that the pongal or lemon rice could ruin my appetite, that Iam falling in love with Chennai…