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!