All in a day: the different faces of Chennai

All in a day. This afternoon, I took an autorickshaw from my home, in T. Nagar, to the Nungambakkam Landmark where “60 percent Sale” on books is going on. The sale isn’t great, though I did pick up loads of Vanity Fair and Esquire for just Rs 50 each. Moments after the autowallah took off, he noticed on the road another auto driver helplessly looking at his dead machine. My guy stopped and asked him what was wrong, and he replied, “No petrol.”

“Get on to your seat,” my guy commanded him, and even before I could realise, he was powering the petrol-less auto with his feet. For about five minutes, he pushed that auto with his feet, and finally, as a petrol pump appeared, next to the Vani Mahal signal on G.N. Chetty Road, he gave it one final kick — powerful enough for the other driver to steer his vehicle into the bunk. Just at that moment, the timer at the signal had already counted down to four. Our man rotated the accelerator and zoomed across — a true hero. Every action of his was so well-coordinated that he could have been Rajnikant playing the role of a heroic auto driver.

While at Landmark I got a call from wife. She is new to Chennai and its roads and flyovers, and this morning, while coming from Alwarpet, she goofed up at Gemini flyover. She had intended to go to Nungambakkam, but a colleague of hers, who was in the car, caused confusion: “Take left… No, sorry, sorry, take right.” By then, my wife had already taken a left, and as she attempted to turn right, a cop sprang up from nowhere. He started with Rs 400, and finally let her off for — shame on the police — just Rs 30. I still don’t know whether to blame the cop for taking bribe, or admire my wife’s bargaining skills. I wish the day had ended with that. But.

Back home, I was engrossed reading an interview with Colin Farrell in Esquire when she called again. “Where are you?” I asked.
“At the ATM near our house.”
“I can’t find my wallet.”
“Check in the car.”
“Checked everywhere. I think I left it in the hotel (she was attending a training programme at Quality Aruna).”

She “thought” she had left the wallet in the hotel: which means chances of finding it were slashed by 50 percent. And considering she had left it behind in a hotel, of all places, where you can steal anything without being accountable for it, the remaining 50 percent was also gone. Yet, we drove to the hotel.

My wife put on music to make the drive less stressful: if only she knew what was going on in my mind. Ever since we got married five months ago, her money has been my money — mine gets over far too quickly. And her wallet had all the ATM cards and her driving licence too. Since I had never bothered learning to drive a car, her licence was crucial. I had visions of sitting in a police station — either to lodge a complaint for the missing wallet, or being taken to task for driving without a licence (in case she dashed into someone in the rush to get to the hotel). I could foresee a tragic evening.

“Anyone there,” my wife said loudly in the now-empty conference hall which was full of people just an hour ago. Total silence. “Excuse me, anyone there?” she said, peeping into the staff corridor. A young bearer appeared. He had the wallet. He handed it over to her along with a piece of advice: “Please keep some identification card in the wallet. I didn’t know where to call.” He asked her to check the money: it was intact. The wife pulled out a 100-rupee note to reward him for his honesty. He refused. She insisted. He refused again.

As the emotional ‘lost and found’ drama went on between them, I silently rejoiced. I had a valid reason to drink this evening, instead of having to invent one.

18 Comments so far

  1. x (unregistered) on September 23rd, 2006 @ 9:11 am

    Nice article.

  2. david (unregistered) on September 23rd, 2006 @ 10:57 am

    Bish, quite an eventful day. Couple of things though: Don’t know if we should be conributing to the corruption around us by propagating it. May be a good idea for you to pull some weight by learning to drive! No offence meant, but these two things struck me. Nicely written though. Kept me captivated.

  3. Lavanya (unregistered) on September 23rd, 2006 @ 11:40 am

    BG – very nicely written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The spice and drama of everyday living – they offer enough humour, always on hindsight.

  4. Mehak (unregistered) on September 23rd, 2006 @ 1:53 pm

    Fab…just Fab….

  5. phantom363 (unregistered) on September 24th, 2006 @ 3:41 am

    do we ever need a valid reason to drink? :)
    get your wife to enjoy one too! thre should be no hassle after that. :)

  6. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on September 24th, 2006 @ 11:48 am

    I had taken my purse and specs out of my pockets at a kutchery (I really don’t know why…). Nearly home, I checked my pocket for my keys and realised that they were, otherwise, empty!

    Luckily I was onkly five minutes away and ran back… There were my belongings just where I had put them down.

    Unfortunately we weren’t so lucky with our Vandalur Zoo guide book… or perhaps we just looked in the wrong places!

  7. s (unregistered) on September 24th, 2006 @ 2:49 pm

    you write so well true to your profession…..great post!!

    keep ’em coming

  8. jain (unregistered) on September 25th, 2006 @ 12:24 pm

    Are you a Begali gandia or Gujurati dandia? What are you doing in Chennai u don’t belong here.Piss off.

  9. Vishal (unregistered) on September 25th, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

    Thad you outsider learn Tamil and you too Mr Gosh you have been living in Chennai long enought. If I went to Kolkatta I would have to learn Bengali so why not you when you are staying here. It is people like you who really upset me you should go back to Bengal and you Mr Thad I don’t know what hole you came from but you should crawl back into it useless bastards the both of you.

  10. Shankar (unregistered) on September 25th, 2006 @ 11:24 pm

    Jain, Vishal

    Stop being rude. We are Tamils. Have you forgotten the saying
    “வந்தாரை வாழவைக்கும் தமிழ்நாடு”
    (Tamil Nadu welcomes/helps/shelters everyone)

    Please do not get confused with the Anti-Hindi Imposition sentiment.
    Be focussed and just keep in mind that we are only against Hindi imposition but not fellow Indians.

    All Indians are welcome to Tamil Nadu. Go ahead and make yourselves at home. But please respect the local culture and try to learn Tamil. You are our guests and we will strive to treat you as nicely as possible.

  11. Vishal (unregistered) on September 26th, 2006 @ 6:52 am

    Who is being rude Shankar, the people who are non Tamilians who come to Chennai are rude they come here and yet don’t bother to learn Tamil. I am sure you are aware of this and in denial about it yet u want to welcome such people I think that is silly, we don’t need them. Tamilians can run TN without any one coming here we are quite capable. I am sick of people with your attitude do you realise Tamilians are not welcome anywhere outside TN so why should be care about anyone else. Indian is just a word there is no meaning behind it India is not a united country remember that. Go to Punjab and tell them you are Tamil and see what treatement you get Shankar.

  12. Anniyan (unregistered) on September 26th, 2006 @ 9:12 am

    I agree with Vishal I am sick of Tamilians accepting everyone into this city we need to set some guidelines here. We can’t have everyone person crawling out of some hole in India and coming here. There should be more Tamilians moved into Chennai and it should be a Pro Tamil city I don’t care about the other people living here but we must not allow other cultures to override ours that is what is happening in Chennai.

  13. visithra (unregistered) on September 26th, 2006 @ 10:45 am

    Lovely post – nice to see the spirit of the ppl of chennai hasn’t been taken over by the rat race

  14. nandhu (unregistered) on September 26th, 2006 @ 7:44 pm

    BG, u might want to consider writing in a tamil name.

  15. Ram (unregistered) on September 27th, 2006 @ 9:04 am

    Nandhu I am disgusted by your actions you want to protect Mr Ghosh who crawled out of a hole in Bengal and decided to come here. Just like the Marwaris who crawled out of Rajashtan and came here. There should be restriction put on who comes into Chennai we don’t want too many Jhatkas and Goltis coming in. It will ruin this city if we are unable to maintain Tamil here, because of ignorant Tamilians living in Chennai.

  16. vikram (unregistered) on September 27th, 2006 @ 10:17 am

    Thad you stupid bastard if I find out who you are I will bash the shit out of you and kick your ass back to Bengal along with Mr Ghosh. Your wife must be silly to marry you she is a disgrace to Tamilians i’ll pack her along with you.

  17. Feroz (unregistered) on September 28th, 2006 @ 3:39 am

    seriously guys, Look at you guys talk. Is there a point any of u trying to make. All i hear is two much pride channeled in the wrong direction.
    Sounds like a regionism( kudos to you all- I thought we had enough problems,apparently not quite). As a huge nation, population with migrate.Cultures will fuse period.

  18. naz (unregistered) on September 28th, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

    Hey Fero boy you need a goog kick in the ass for talking like that. Cultures will not fuse unless you haven’t seen a pattern cultures take over other cultures or they stay segregated in any country that is the same in Chennai if you haven’t noticed. Marwaris stick to their own they don’t mingle with others so stop talking shit.

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