Goodbye. For the nonce. #1

Where do I begin? Where do I end? Do I begin? I do have to end. For the last few weeks, and more often for the last few days, I’ve been wondering what it is that makes a city, a city. And how one should bid it goodbye.

You see, I am leaving. I am, to employ a rather cliched phrase, cutting the cord and going out into the big-bad world to see if I can better my station in life. And I am worried that I will probably like the big-bad world out there more than I do this little place I have called hometown for this long.

It’s not just that I am leaving. It’s that I am leaving when I can just as easily stay back and probably do almost as good as I am outside. So, with quite a bit of guilt, and a lot more fondness for the city, I bid my goodbyes.

It’s easy to say that other places in the world have beaches. In fact, people will tell you that the city I am going to, has a beach. Well, that is true. But there cannot be another beach for this out-and-out Madras boy. Marina and the Elliots have permanently coloured my perception of what a beach should be like. And no amount of Baywatch-watching will ever change that. Where else in the world do you get a beach half-a-kilometre to 1 kilometre wide, with, by rough estimates, around 60% of the population of the city in it at all times? Where else do you get to snack on frigging hot bajjis at 8, 9, 10 in the night? Where else do you get to shoot little balloons with a rifle? Where else do you bite into roast-corn?
I’m sorry, world. Marina is a beach. Others are all just so much sand and flesh.

So, my first goodbye, to you. The Bay of Bengal, to the hot sands that gives this part of the world its name – Coramandel. To the Marina and its statues. To the Elliots and its walkers, babes, dogs, and Cozee. Goodbye to Schmidt Memorial and Lighthouse and Anna Samadhi and some of the best effing buildings in the city.

It’s easy to say other cities have roads far superior to the ones in Madras. I’ve said that myself. But, as I begin to pack, and rush around trying to find stuff that I’ve overlooked thus far, I realise that for me, this city’s roads define what the city is. And what it can be. From being Post Code identifiers, to markers for a time – an era, to being just a route you follow on your commute. Mount Road. Kamarajar Salai. That tiny lane off 26th street, 5th Sector, KK Nagar, that big mofo of the GST. The fatally narrow streets of Parry’s corner and Sowcarpet. The meandering, confusing as hell roads of Mint. Broadway which is squeezed beyond what’s possible. Good bye, all. I shall definitely miss riding and cycling and busing down you.

(I hope to continue this. Don’t hold me to it, though)

9 Comments so far

  1. hari (unregistered) on June 30th, 2007 @ 10:28 am

    Hey Chandra wherever it is you are going I am sure is better than Chennai, you are lucky to have the opportunity to leave. You are leving behind well not much chaos, unlawfulness, rude people, poor roads and a smelly beach that was once beautiful. I am sure you will enjoy your self overseas more than here intially eveyone feels the same way however it won’t take long to overcome your regret as there is so much in the world beyond Chennai and India which as a whole is a pathetic country.


  2. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on June 30th, 2007 @ 12:20 pm

    That may be true, in part, but then some of us actually chose to come and live in this city!

    I have to say that, as far as beaches are concerned, though, the rest of the world has some nice surprises for you.

    I’d like to say that your home city will always be here for you, but with the intensity of its rather unplanned and chaotic development it may be better remembered as it was just a very few years back, than as it may become in a few years time.

    Very best wishes for your trip and career. I’m sure you’ll be back to visit.


  3. Navneeth (unregistered) on June 30th, 2007 @ 2:49 pm

    Bon Voyage, CG! I’m sure you’ll feel more at home in the US, (assuming that’s where you’re off to) where Indians try their best to recreate the atmosphere of home, and here, we do our worst aping the West. It won’t matter much since “good ol’ Madras” is now only in the memories of people, and that you can carry with you anywhere. Have fun.


  4. Nancy (unregistered) on July 1st, 2007 @ 12:59 am

    Good luck! I hope you come to love your new city. I hope you’ll continue to blog, wherever you’re going.


  5. Planemad (unregistered) on July 1st, 2007 @ 1:45 am

    CCGK, i was born in the city of gold. And having lived in that country for 18 years its nothing more than gold plating.


  6. Shyam (unregistered) on July 1st, 2007 @ 8:43 am

    My feelings exactly, though they were pre-dated by 3 years. But these pre-dated feelings are still very much active, and I identified with everything you mentioned there, and made me long for those days gone long past. I would like to add one more place to the hangouts you mentioned. The snack shop in the gap next to Adyar Bakery on Sardar Patel Road, Adyar that serves the best cutlets and samosas and lots more.

    Good luck in your new place.


  7. Perisami G (unregistered) on July 1st, 2007 @ 9:12 am

    Getting away from Chennai? Count your blessings! You are getting away from heat,uncleared garbage strewn on poorly kept pavements,constantly stinging mosquitoes,rude and unethical auto rikshaw walas,smelling Cooum and Adyar and many more…You are lucky to get out.


  8. david (unregistered) on July 1st, 2007 @ 7:16 pm

    Fare thee well, my friend. Vaya con Dios (God go with you) and may the road always descend before you, and the wind blow in your face. The city that nurtured you will always be home, always waiting for you to return. For a visit or to stay. Its much like our families. No one’s family is perfect. There are problems, and problematic people. But we love them because they are our family! So it is with the city.Hope to see you soon.God bless.


  9. potpourri (unregistered) on July 1st, 2007 @ 9:58 pm

    Farewell CG. Good luck.

    Well said David! “Its much like our families. No one’s family is perfect. There are problems, and problematic people. But we love them because they are our family! So it is with the city.” Just my feeling whenever someone responds to my decision to return to India with “Why do you want to go back to India, it is blah blah”.



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