This post is published as a part of The CBC Tablog – 3, where CBC stands for the Chennai Bloggers Club, a group where bloggers from across age groups and genres discuss anything and everything including blogging. This blog tag will witness the participation of 20 odd bloggers from the group, who will write on the subject – Chennai: A Blend of the Traditional and Modern. So, here is my post on the theme, titled C.H.E.N.N.A.I. – An Experience. You may read the previous post by Vid Dev here.
It is the city that brought me to a job — the latter turning out to be the one I came to love in due course, given the amount of writing involved. It is the city that hit me with a culture-shock like no other has managed in the past almost twenty-five years. It is the city that saw me grow from brains to a bride. Sure, for the time that I have dwelled here, I have had the chance to explore a bit about Chennai, eventually identifying a nest that seemed to have been waiting to embrace me all this while.
As a kid, I was born, bred and raised across eastern, western and northern metros, and cities around those. Almost four years back, my rozi roti not only beckoned me to the southern metro, a city that I was to consider as my base for a while, but also, it did so at a time when I identified my first and second languages as Hindi and English respectively. Technically, my mother tongue is Tamil; for now, let’s just say I grew up with it quite selectively. I came from land(s) that followed a cosmopolitan culture and thought-process, had grown up consuming roti and sabzi, and rice was only occasional, was familiar with Bollywood and a little bit of Hollywood, and never had to haggle with an auto-wallah as metre was the only way to travel. Over these four years, my perception of Chennai (since the initial jolt) has only evolved, reflecting primarily on my attitude towards it. I have come to respect Chennai as the city that has served me my bread-n-butter, lent me a base to hop off to countless travel spots, helped me discover where my true interest lies, and the best of the best, found me a one-in-a-million-worth better half.
So, as a cosmopolitan character who managed to figure out and nestle her own set of likes and dislikes over the past many months, I may not have seen the so-admired-and-spoken-about Theosophical Society or Semmozhi Poonga, but I feel the artistic kolams adorning the threshold of the locals’ houses, and the long tresses of any colour and kind bedecked with layers of freshly scented flowers are no less admirable. The concept that I may have grown up with must have been Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, while the concept I had to learn here was Tiffin, Lunch and Tiffin. I may not have visited the artistic and much-renowned Dakshinachitra yet, but I am proud to have had countless ‘movie’ experiences at Sathyam Cinemas, and needless to mention, those endless visits to Nungambakkam High Road for lip-smacking food. Sure, one must have heard about the concepts of book hopping and club hopping, however, what I finally landed up doing the past month was sabha hopping. I may not have had the chance yet to express my opinion about the view one may get atop the Lighthouse at Marina Beach, though I can clearly reminisce out loud the feeling of being woken up early morning to a drifting waft of decoction brewing away in the filter, complemented by M.S. Subbulakshmi’s intoned suprabhatam in the background.
When I first came here, did I know back then it would take me almost two years to create my own social circle, given the cultural differences? Not really. Although today, if need be, I can not only survive the local language inside and outside of my circles, but also, can drive a bargain with an auto-wallah (well, almost). Last but not least, back in Bollywood, one may not find a craze or cult following in favour of a particular star. But today, I can safely be vertical of the stance where I will have nobody to blame but myself were I to raise my voice publicly against Rajni or Kamal!
As an administration to a closure, I recently happened to stumble across a co-blogger’s work on Chennapattnam to Madras to Chennai, where he mentions, anyone who wants to experience Chennai, all that they need to do is be open-minded. Well, Aravind, all I can say is I tried.
I pass the baton to Sriram Acharya who expresses his views through his Paradoxical Paradise. His blogs, known to be centred around Science and Metaphysical poetry, defaults the reader to rethink and examine ideas from a different perspective more often than not; but then, you do see the disclaimer right on top that reads – Beware: Contents may dilute your reality. Well, can’t blame him! Do drop by his blog and show some love.