Nine things I love about the city
Without much ado, here they are:
1. Loving Tamil
I love it when people around me speak the same language I do. The year I spent in Hyderabad, I always felt like an alien because I had to struggle with my rustic Hindi. Thankfully, auto drivers were polite to me. Often I would long to speak Tamil at home and all my four roommates back then were Malayalees. Chennai became second home to me largely because its population is on the same page I am.
2. Movies in multiplexes
I was ecstatic when the state government passed the order asking multiplexes not to price movie tickets beyond Rs 120 in Chennai. This is the only order passed by MK that I love him for. My movie addiction is much lesser than what it used to be, but at least my fledging film reviewing career is taking off thanks to the multiplexes, especially Satyam. I recently read how Satyam overprices its popcorn to subsidise the ticket. I love that. I don’t have to buy popcorn to watch a movie despite all the rubbish about how the both go together.
3. Roasting in the sun
I actually love the city’s climate. If it rains around the year, I would feel blue. I know the Chennai climate-haters well and why they love to hate the heat here. But for me, the summers, and lately, the extended monsoons are a continuing source of joy.
4. Marina in the morning
I love Marina at 4 am. Sometimes after my night shifts, I walk to the beach from my house in Triplicane. Winding my way up Triplicane’s dirty streets has a pay off in the end. At that hour, you can’t quite see the beach. You just know it’s there. Sometimes you can catch the surf. It needs someone with more than my vocabulary to tell you how this feels. I might make it corny.
Everything, they say, is fake in cities and true and genuine in villages. For once, the fakes are better and cheaper that the real thing. My hometown of Nagercoil is no more a virgin market when it comes to piracy, especially MP3s, but no one there yet sells DVDs of Korean and Iranian films. You got to love Chennai for its rampant piracy. Well, at least you got to love piracy because a Sony movie on DVD costs Rs 600. Moser Baer yet doesn’t have a good collection.
I love the food here. It’s always good value for money. Eatalica, French Loaf, Murugan Idly Shop, and the scores of Andhra messes and Kaiyendhi Bhavans in and around Triplicane are my favourite haunts. I fell in love with Idly in Chennai something I continue to be embrassed about. I used to fuss about that back home.
For a while, Chennai was the blogging capital of India. I don’t know who started that rumour, but even if that claim isn’t true anymore, there are bloggers here, and a lot of them. I have met a few offline and they are funnier and often genuine, articulate people. After helping to organize the first blog camp, the Roof Top Film Festivals, and the blogger meets at my place, I realise I love my fellow bloggers in the city as much I love blogging itself. One of the last things I did was go on a photowalk. For some stuck with a desk job, a photowalk can be a lively thing, and it certainly was for me.
8. Steeped in culture
Every city is defined by its culture more than its politics or climate. Perhaps only geography defines cities as much as culture. Like Hawaii is defined by its proximity to the beach, Chennai is defined by its culture, which even at its most degraded and corrupt is still something to soak in. So city-like and I love it. When I was in Thiruvanmaiyur, it was a thrill catching girls driving bikes with the Salangai still tied to their legs.
Then there are the hangouts. Like Amethyst, which is a palace, and clothes stores like Fab Mall (where I haven’t bought a thing) and West Side. Books stores like Landmark and Odyssey. Cinema Paradiso. You really can find a thousand places like that in Chennai. Some of them are big brands and are probably present across cities. But I will always associate West Side with Chennai and my shopping experience of the city. I am sure you have a couple of places you love. May be the teashop down the road?
For the lack of time, I end my story here. You are welcome to add your list. Just make it personal, if at all that has to be told to you.