Monday, January 7, 2013

Chennai aka Madras!

This post is part of the blog tag titled, The CBC Tablog where CBC stands for Chennai Bloggers Club. About 35 bloggers from Chennai are participating in this blog tag; everyone will write about Chennai and what has attracted them here. Thanks for passing the baton to me Sylvian Patrick, a Thanjavur Karan who became Madras Karan. He is a marketer by profession, a quizzer by passion, a blogger by choice, a poet by chance,a Photographer by Hobby, a non-conformist by gene and a rebel by birth and he blogs at Sylvianism

Chennai! It seems more familiar and closer to me by the name "Madras" though I'd alternately use the names throughout this post. The mere thought of Madras gives me a pleasure like a child at the word 'chocolate'. I was born here, brought up here, went from here, returned here and now living here. Chennai has become an essential entity of my life. I was, am and will be fascinated by this metropolitan. Around nineteen years back, I was born in the suburbs of Chennai. Before I started to recognize things, my parents had me taken to Vellore. I became more curious and more curious about this city. The heart of the state. There are several things which attracted me as a kid and also as a grown up. 

So this city being the place where my grandparents lived, we used to visit it so often during my early years. Almost all the festivals ended up in Chennai and once in a blue moon we did that in Vellore.

"I booked tickets for us. Next weekend we are off to Chennai!"

I had been practically waiting for such conversations every day during those times. We start so happily by train and reach Chennai. The very first thing of amazement is the local electric train. I had always wondered in my childhood days why didn't we have local trains in Vellore! The trains we board at St. Thomas Mount station and the moments we wait for them are memorable. The tickets which they pull out from a machine by pressing a button, the yellow color with minute details in it, the small size with the fonts always make people like to preserve it. The long queue for the ticket counters, the people rushing up and down the stairs and the vendors on and off the platform made me curious. 



Image: Harikrishna Raghuraman


When we wait for the trains, we can see the different class of people; running for the job, hanging out just for fun, college students, vendors and the chief business men, the beggars. If you are somewhere near the airport, you can notice the flights landing and taking off. For a small child who hadn't seen a flight so close, it would be so much fun. I used to count the number of flights sitting on a bench and pronouncing those names. The weighing machines are a play thing for kids. They insert a one-rupee coin; get their card with an advice. 



Image: Harikrishna Raghuraman


The trains! Those days we had meter gauges and the broad gauges were very rare. The horn and the display were enthusiastic. Trains sub-divided to compartments; general, first class and the ladies. The seats on both side of the compartment, those handles, the fans, the windows, the doorstep, the tracks and the electric lines. I love the smoothness even today. Today I realize the advantages of these trains but those days without any reasons, I loved them. "I love trains!"

The other thing I am attracted by are the street vendors. Markets occupy both the sides of the famous streets in the city. There isn't anything you can't get in these places. Either young kids or old people manage these shops.

Image: Harikrishna Raghuraman

"Sir, three items for Rs.20!"
"Madam, take any item for just Rs.10."
"Bro, you can't get any of these anywhere else!" 

These dialogues in the Madras Slang aka Madras Bashai can easily get your attention. Speaking of which, Madras Bashai is the native slang of Madras people which is now the north Madras. This became popular all around the globe by the Tamil films and the 'gana' songs.

"Kundhu!" (Sit down)
"Saavu Graki!" (Death customer)
"Veetla soltu vantiya?" (Did you tell in your home and come?) 


These are the most famous sentences in the colloquial Tamil and one can see auto drivers using much of these. Speaking of whom, there isn't a place in Chennai without autos plying. They have their own associations, ethics and the auto-man from one stand should not pick customer from another stand. There are meters which are not used, there are indicators which are never used and there are rules which are not followed. The share autos are a new tradition today. These auto-wallas become so pious during the "Ayyappa" season. They undergo fasting for the visit to Sabarimala and they form the large part of the people visiting the holy place from our state. 



Image: The New Indian Express

The "Ayyappa" season is well-celebrated here along with other festivals. Wherever you go, you can't miss one wearing black costumes, a chain of beads, sandal and turmeric smeared on their forehead. It is the only festival other than Ganesh Chathurthi celebrated widely among all class of the people. The Margazhi month is the epitome of traditional and cultural aspects of the city on which I have already written a post which you can read here. The bhajans and the loudspeaker make this even wider.

The loudspeaker has become an inevitable part of a Chennai citizen. A political meeting, a star's birthday, a festival, a cinema release, a protest, a celebration and these cover all the areas of this city every day. Without disturbing the students or the aged, it is not customary to celebrate a phenomenon. This is an unsaid rule of Madras. This has indeed increased our noise pollution.

Speaking of pollution, it is at its acme today. The Cooum River flowing across the city with boats has become garbage carrying one. The river is at its worst condition and every political leader has made a promise to renovate it. The banks are occupied by the slums and are full of huts whose lives are dependent on this river. From washing their clothes to their pits, they do everything on this river.

The river! The tourism department arranges every day tour from Chennai till Mahabalipuram which includes a volvo bus, lunch and guide. There are a large number of places in Madras to visit. The zoological park at Vandalur, the snake and the guindy national park, the crocodile bank, the semmozhi poonga, the Marina and the Elliots beach, the Thiruvallikeni and the Mylapore temple and much more. There are buses connecting all these places. Even the remote places.

The buses are of several kinds. The white boards, yellow boards, the deluxe, Ac, ‘M’ services, ‘PP’ services ply throughout the city. Each is classified on the cost of the tickets. 21G is one of the most famous bus connecting Tambaram and Broadway. 568C connects CMBT and Kelambakkam. Another famous one. The highways are so neatly designed and the Kathipara junction is a public roller coaster which I love a lot. The government gives most of its importance to Chennai as it’s our capital.

The Government is here and so the troubles. If any political leader arrives to our state, he comes to Chennai first and there is a lot of diversions; enough to confuse the ordinary. And the airport here gives a great impression about the state to the visitors making this city full of tourists.

The word Chennai not only represents the city but the entire state. When you tell Chennai, it is Tamil Nadu and vice versa. The name Chennai is a shortened form of Chennapattanam, the name of the town that grew around Fort St. George, which was built by the English in 1639. And a few years, we are on our way for the city's 400th day. The Madras day is August 22 and the whole week is full of celebrations. The love for Madras makes its people celebrate its day. We live in Chennai and so we shall live for it.

I have written a short story based on how Chennai changed a person which involves a few scenes (not the main part!) under the title Chennai to Chennai! Now I am passing on the batom to Kalyani Ram who is a passionate new-born blogger whose blog is "ramblings and randomness".

30 comments:

  1. Nice post. Coming after so many other posts and yet finding so much to write without being repititive is no mean feat!!

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    1. Thanks a lot Clement :) Chennai na summa va? :D We can write loads and loads of things on our city :D

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  2. Yaay . Nice !! Detailed insight into the day today "life" of a city

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    1. Thanks a lot Prashanth :) Glad you liked it! Daily life in Chennai is different from every other city! :D

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  3. Great to see another train enthusiast like me. St. Thomas Mount was one of my favourite stations as well cos many of my friends used to get in from there during my UG days. My school was also in Mount and hence the extra liking. Now, it has been a long time since I travelled in those trains.

    A lovely post with a dash of history and memory.

    Yay to the sixteenth post.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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    1. Hey Hi-five :D Chennai welcomes you for your nostalgic train travels :D Thanks for the appreciation :)

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  4. The electric trains and their tickets. Have been on them a very few times and I sort of remember my electric train journeys! Probably when the Metro comes, it will be more useful as it is closer to home.

    So, the Fort St. George was built at 1639? It seems that the British thought that as a river flows right inside the city, Cooum was just like Thames river in London. And then we got our independence!

    Good account of the city, here. Impressive!

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Trains are always passionate :D Metro is gonna raise our status :) YEah, they built it in the same way and now it is a very different place! Thank you Destination Infinity :)

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  5. Life of a Chennaite, described perfectly. Very nicely analyzed and written :-)

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    1. Hey thanks a lot :) glad you liked it :)

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  6. wow, that's a lot of information. i visited Chennai a few times but didn't get enough time to see the city properly. we grew up calling your city Madras and i still do. i love the name Madras!

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    1. Thank you and there are several more information which you can see in the Chennai bloggers club... Everybody is writing about Chennai and its my turn :D Make a promise that you would visit Chennai several more times and see all the places... And Hi-Fi for that Madras! :) Thanks again boss!

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  7. Train - that too when it chugs into basin bridge station - that feeling.. sigh... no words! Good one mate!

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    1. Trains, trains, trains everywhere! Love them a lot and happy to find a train-lover like me! Thank you Deepa :)

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  8. the feel Chennai gave when we used to come for the holidays as kids was something unique :)

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    1. Chennai always makes me home! Its simply a wonderful moment in Madras here and to be called a Madarasi :D You recently visited Chennai and stayed here for a month na? Cool... Thank you :)

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  9. you have nicely captured the day to day life of madras. Very realistic, good one.

    MAdras is special to me too. I was born here and this post evokes so many memories of my own especially the areas of mylapore and nanganallur. just in case you havn't read, bishwanath ghosh's book tamarind city which traces the history of madras may interest you. As a chennaite, you will feel proud that so many institutions had its roots in India even universities like Yale.

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    1. Thank you Asha :) Madras gives everyone a unique reason to celebrate! You have memories of Nanganallur? Cheers :D My summer vacation every year and festivals were always celebrated in Nanganallur! I simply love it....Sure, I'd read the book... Feel proud for being a Chennaite! Hurray

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  10. That is a really nice post. I can see how much you love your hometown.
    I've been to Chennai so many times, but never got to see it all. Someday, I hope. :)
    I haven't heard of Kundhu and Saavu Graki, but now if I do, I'll know what it means. :)Thank you.

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    1. Hey Thanks a lot :) Chennai is a fascinating place and you must spend a week to enjoy it thoroughly! There are some more words out here, which you can possibly hear if you spend a week's time here :D

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  11. very very sweet! it seems like I cant get enough of Chennai.. Nice post there and also silent thanks to the CBC initiative!!

    Do visit my blog! Would love to see you by! *cheers*

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    1. Thanks a lot and yes Chennai can never be finished :D Sure will visit :)

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  12. I liked the chain of events. Explained well :)

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    1. Thank you Vinod :) Welcome to my page :)

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  13. Those are some wonderful snippets of Chennai. Have been there so many times...but, after reading this post, I realize today, that I have hardly seen Chennai....
    Lovely...!! By the way...
    Congratulations!
    I have nominated your blog for the Leibster Blog Award.
    The rules of this award are at: http://panchalibolchi.blogspot.in/2013/02/thanks-for-leibster-award.html

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    1. Thanks for the comment! There is a lot to see here :D You're most welcome here! And for the award, oh God, Thanks a lot! This is my first one :) And you give me this! I am on cloud nine :)

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  14. Yes Chennai is a fascinating place in India and there are many attractions to enjoy. Ur blog is different when compared to other on posting the articles. Awesome collection of pics. See more information about Places near Chennai . Happy Hop Around India...

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    1. Thank you Swathi :) Sure, I'd love to see. :)

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  15. This is very informative article about Chennai. Thank you for sharing.

    Tourist Places in Chennai

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  16. Located on the Coromandel Coast, Chennai (Madras) is an intriguing mix of the ancient and the modern. With an enthralling past, it is a window to the culture and art forms of south India. From Bharatnatyaman to Carnatic music, ancient temples to historical churches, Chennai (Madras) is a delight for explorers. Explore Anna Centenary Library also, a humongous library with 550,000 books.

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