Chennai – Slice of Life 1
For the month of May, when the Sun beats down hard on the poor denizens of this city and the most important words are cool, shade and A/C, the intrepid gang of Chennai Metbloggers will still hit the pavement to bring you snippets of the city. On my part, I will bring you verbal vignettes from the everyday folks who make Chennai what it is – a throbbing and thriving metropolis that acts as a magnet for people seeking opportunities and a better life.
I have started posing questions about Madras with the people I interact with on a daily basis – the autorickshaw guy, the woman selling fruits at an intersection near my home, the laundry man, the woman who brings flowers and with my friends, co-workers, relatives and even strangers. I will present their opinions verbatim. This is not a formal survey or a structured interview with people about what they think of their city. This is a first-hand account of words that come straight from their hearts as soon as the question is posed to them – “What do you feel about Chennai?” or its Thamizh equivalent “Chennainnadhum ungaLukku enna thoNudhu?”
Rangan, 41, Autorickshaw Driver:
“Chennainnadhum enkku innaa thoNudhunnaa orey vekkai. Naan auto oattranaala eppovum heat-aa irukkum, vEkkum aanaa savaari easy-aa kedachchudum. Enga paarthaalum eppovum orey sanam adhuvum T.Nagar side-aakka poyittaa veLLeye vara mudiyaadhu, avLo nerisal. Maththapadi enukku innaa pudikkumnaa therukku theru kovil irukkudhu. Periya city-nnaa kooda allaarum saamikku bhayandhu nadakkuraanga. Maththa city paththi paper-la appdi ippdi varudhu aanaakka Sennai paththi kolai, koLLai, karpaLippu ippdi avLovaa illai. Arasiyalvaadhingo enga irundhaalum orey maari dhaan iruppaanunga, avungaLai paththi sollo onnium illai. Inga pozhaikka vandhavanga eppdiyo pozhaichchugunu dhaan irukkaaNuNga. En puLLaingaLai vara school savaari appram ungaLai maari vara savaari idhai vechchugunu dhaan padikka vekkiren. Avangalaachchum nallaa padichchu enna maari auto oattaama, nalla velaila seranumnu aasai.”
Translation: “When I think of Chennai, I think of the excess heat. Since I drive an auto, I always feel the heat and also sweat a lot, but can somehow earn my daily wages. Wherever you turn, there is a sea of people at all times, especially (the shopping areas in) T. Nagar where getting in and out is an ordeal due to the jam-packed traffic. Other than that, what I like about the city is the plethora of temples on every street. In spite of living in a big city, many people are good because they are religious. We read bad things about other cities in the papers but not much of murders, robberies or rapes in Chennai. Politicians will of course be the same everywhere, so there is not much to talk about them. Whoever comes to this city in search of a livelihood is somehow able to survive. I have school-going children, whose expenses I meet by the regular school drops and pick-ups that I have, plus the other passengers like you. My wish is for them to study well and get decent jobs, unlike me.”