The Different Colors of Chennai
All good things come to an end. We can do little to fight fate, but only mourn: “Those were the days!” For five long years, I was smug in the fact that my office is only four kilometres from home — a luxury very few people in metros can afford. So I would wake up close to noon every day, saunter out of home by two, enjoy the 10- or 15-minute autorickshaw ride while soaking in the sights that G N Chetty Road, the Gemini flyover and the Mount Road had to offer.
The most spectacular of them would be the sight of girls whose bikes would be ahead of my auto. If the view from behind was enticing enough, I would wait for the auto to overtake so that I could take a look at their faces. At times the overtaking happened, at times it didn’t — but I would be in office even before I could blink my eye. Once in office, I would work for a while; after a point boredom struck and I would hop over to Spencer Plaza, where my favourite hangout, apart from Landmark, was the Levi’s showroom on the ground floor. Once in a while, I would be tempted to go to the shop adjacent to Levi’s — that of Color Plus. But I resisted the tempation because Color Plus clothes are too expensive and mostly formal, even though the quality is superb. I get my annual quota of Color Plus clothes from my mother, who buys them from an outlet in Kanpur and sends them to me on occasions like my birthday, Durga Puja, etc. Little does she know that those very shirts are manufactured in a factory that is — now — stone’s throw from her son’s office.
Last July, the New Indian Express office shifted from Mount Road to Ambattur. The travelling distance of four kilometres has been stretched to fourteen. I now have a car, but it doesn’t trail girls on bikes, but trucks of all shapes and sizes. Truck-chasing in fine as long as you reach your destination in time and comfort, but thanks to the spell of rains that Chennai has gone through — or is still going through — the journey to office has become a road to hell. A pothole here and a pothole there, and all filled with water. And there is no Spencer Plaza to compensate for the nightmarish journey. Ah, but there is Color Plus.
Just outside the Color Plus factory in Ambattur, there is a small showroom, open 10 am to 7.30, where you get a flat and permanent discount of 50 percent. And for woollen garments, the discount goes upto 70 percent! For a Chennaiite, who grapples with three seasons — hot, hotter and hottest — the 70 percent discount might not make much sense. But you could bring a smile on the face of your friend or relative living above the Vindhyas by parcelling him or her a few sweaters. And why just them, even you could pick up one — in case you plan to visit the North or Coorg or Ooty in the coming months.
Forget woollens, the range of shirts and trousers you get here is mind-blowing. There are casuals too, and also accessories like belts and ties. You just part with half the money you would spend otherwise in other Color Plus outlets in the city, including the one in Spencer Plaza.
I went home, to Kanpur, recently, and the evening before I left, I shopped at the factory outlet. I bought stuff worth Rs 6000, and paid barely Rs 2000. It was payback time.