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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Singara Chennai

I have been thinking of what to write and I decided to start by putting some of my really old stuff on here.

Five years ago, I moved to Madras after being away for four years. A blog on sulekha.com caught my eye and I felt I had to say something. This is what I said:


I find the Exnora doing their bit in keeping the city clean. But there is only so much that Onyx or Exnora can do. If the residents don't, on their own, realize the importance of clean surroundings there is really nothing anyone can do.

At times, I feel I am in for a culture shock. Never before have I seen girls in spaghetti strapped outfits on the streets. But Madras has a nice way of embracing change. Where else can you can see madi saris and spaghetti straps co-exist? There is always a wonderful mix of the old and the new. The half saris are very much present at weddings and other functions. I agree that you don't see girls wearing them on the roads. Then again, it is also a matter of convenience. I am amazed at the ease with which an average Chennai-ite can switch between salwar kameezes at work, jeans during weekends, 6 yards saris for functions and 9 yards madi saris at family functions. Sometimes I can't believe that it is the same person. This is something I haven't really seen elsewhere, but can't comment on whether is unique to Chennai.

It takes a lot of courage and skill to hit the roads on your own. But with the choices that one has, that seems to be the best option. One can't afford to start the day with an argument with an autowallah( not my definition of suprabhatam!). Most motorists hit the road with the belief, "Rules are meant to be broken". There's not much you can do when faced with that attitude. This is definitely one of those cities where it is not enough if you follow the rules, you could end up being hurt for no fault of your own.

One more thing that I don't see these days is children playing out in the open and riding bicycles. There seems to be not much open space for children to get together and play simple games. And no parent in his or her right mind would allow children to ride bicycles on our roads. There are some things that I miss about the Madras that was.

This is a new Madras...a Chennai that has come of age. But it is not as though everything has changed. For one, the masala dosai at the Woodlands Hotel is just the same!

10 comments:

Caffeinism said...

Yes chennai has changed but not as much as it should have given...We still have a long way to go...half sarees and spaghetti's are not as much in synch as they should be...people need to develop a broader outlook...

G'man said...

Where can I find 'sphagetti top' clad women in Chennai? ;) ..

Raaga said...

Caff... I agree that we have a long way to go... but contrary to popular belief, I find Madras a lot more progressive than most people would like to believe.

G'man... let's hook up when you visit next and I'll take you :) Thing is that all the PYTs will wonder what a guy like you is doing with a woman like me :))

Mukund said...

madras has certainly changed and is giving way to chennai. but it still retains a bit of its tradition as well. in which other metro city could u see madisar mamis and pavadai davani clad girls? :)

Mukund said...

by the way, i thought u were in bangalore!

Sunanda said...

Madras has definitely changed! I do miss the on the street 'paandi' sessions and kalaanga sessions that were once pretty common but on the other hand it's nice to see more families emracing the eating out on weekends and generally spending time outside their homes. I remember eating out as a family was such a rare occassion for us(atleast).

Mukund said...

yea, paandi n kalaanga arent played these days! neither do the kids know abt goli, gilli, kathadi :)

wooster said...

aiyyo ma.. you furgaat coconut oil dripping, sweat filled, jasmine adorned, plaited hair :p

just this morning was talking to a co-passenger about the early morning 'suprabhatam' with the rick guys there :)

Raaga said...

Hmmm... yeah paandi... it used to be my life... playing that all the time... and kalaanga too... perfecting the art every day... especially during the summers. :)

And Sunanda, considering where we grew up, it was practically impossible to eat out often... my folks planned a trip once a month and we probably ended up eating out 6 times a year, including birthdays and the anniversary :)

Mukund... please note, this article was originally published 5 years ago... I was in Madras then.

Raaga said...

Wooster: the coconut oil dripping is not something I've seen lately... and something that I don't find unique to Madras :)