Madras: what I loved about growing up in this city!

There used to be a serial about growing up called the ‘Wonder Years’. That about sums up my memories of growing up in this city. My memories are an amalgam of so many experiences that make them a rich tapestry of many hues: Early morning runs along the quiet residential roads of T Nagar; Flirting as I ran with girls sitting in upstairs verandahs or terraces with their books ( I actually met one after all these years, and she introduced herself as one of those girls on the terrace!); Thick lassis with heavy cream floating on top with a sprinkling of sugar and rose essence; Movies at Safire theatre and Blue Diamond along with my friends; The rendezvous prior to the film at the Woodlands Drive In; The scented air from the aircon at Devi theatres when they first opened; Great English movies at Casino theatre; Walking back from the movies, no matter how far the theatre was from home.

Learning French at the Alliance Francaise on College Road after high school; Cycling all over the city, particularly Anna Nagar and Besant Nagar where my friends were concentrated; Cycling to the open air theatre (OAT) at the IIT on Saturday nights for the movie (It was just Re1!); The gang landing up for dinner post movie at ‘Waldy’s- the Waldorf Chinese Restaurant; Borrowing my friend’s dad’s car for wild night drives through the city till 2 AM (The roads were deserted then); Sleep-overs post those drives at a friend’s place with music, chats, and romps thrown in. Lying on a friend’s terrace late into the night, listening to music and talking about love and life.

Beach runs on the Marina; Frolicking in the sea at Besant Nagar beach; Late night dinners at Buharis; Dinners at Coronet and Runs in Adyar pre OAT movies or Mardi Gras; Sundaes, milk shakes or ice creams at Jaffars at Wellington theatre; Jeans from Gentry; Music from StereoVision; Formals from India Silk House; Riding boots for the motorbike from Vasans; Parties beginning at 3 PM with the rooms darkened with bed spreads across the windows; Being told by a friend’s sister that I had “kissable lips” and being thoroughly embarrassed; Dropping girls home post party before nine PM. Agonizing over the girls met and what they thought of us.

Shopping at Moore Market for books and ‘hep’ used clothes; Rain holidays when in school and college; Cycling through cylcones just to experience it; Riding with my class mate on his Rajdoot GTS on Besant Nagar beach during a cyclone after the college declared a rain holiday; Working on my motor bike at my cousin’s workshop; Shopping for parts for it on General Patter’s road; The joy of a finely tuned Jawa thrumming through the city roads; The bike gear we used to wear: helmet with visor, jeans, T shirts and riding boots; Grease under my finger nails from all the work on the bike; Taking the turn on Annie Besant road with the sparks flying as the foot peg scoured the road.

Volleyball after school; Training on the athletic track at Rajaratnam stadium on Marshall’s road; Going for runs through Besant Nagar; School camps at Camp Tonekela in Avadi; ‘Bus surfing’ (you stood inside the bus without holding on to anything and surfed as the bus sped through curving roads and corners) on the way back from college before getting the Jawa; The Mardi Gras at the IIT (now called Saarang); Working out in the mornings at home using my dad’s weights (they, in turn, used to belong to his dad! I still use them!); Badminton in our garden; Bhel Puri at Milan outside Figurette on Sterling Road (next to Harrison’s Hotel); movies, plays and talks at the USIS, Max Mueller Bhavan and the British Council; Sports Illustrated at the USIS library.

Those were the days my friends; the Wonder Years!

8 Comments so far

  1. Ganesh (unregistered) on November 22nd, 2006 @ 11:14 pm

    Lovely post! Brings together so many thoughts and places!

  2. bejharboy (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2006 @ 11:15 am

    those were the best days of the life…

  3. Lavanya (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2006 @ 11:24 am

    David, totally heartwarming.

  4. irfan (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2006 @ 12:13 pm

    Very nice indeed….great visualizations, I could actually see myself doing those things. :-)

  5. musafir (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2006 @ 12:52 pm

    u do have a way with words!

  6. Shekar (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2006 @ 3:43 pm

    Great Post! I’m sure they are many of us who have indulged in the very same activities. Would love to read a post on Adyar – the Runs/Coronets, Adyar Bakery, the Bajji kadai next door, Hong Kong “custom tailors’, Guhan studio’s, the mini-supermarkets – “adyar super, aunty uncle, new jain stores, jaffar stores”, Students Xerox, Leofortune bakers, Odyssey, Bata, Puliyaar Kovil, Hot Breads, Pushpa Shoppe (now no more), Eros, Ganapathiram, Waldorf, CLRI, IIT – my god teh list is endless!
    Could someone oblige?

  7. vishal (unregistered) on November 24th, 2006 @ 8:36 am

    Chennai is the worst place to live on earth, its an example of a city that has gone wrong in every single way. From water problems, corruption to every damm thing a city with no road signs, overcrowding, too many people from holes in other parts of India. Chennai suffers from an indentity loss especially the majority of residents (Tamilians). Soon this will turn into another Bangalore where Kannadigas fell out of place in there own home and be forced to speak other languages then there own, instead of controlling there own city people from other states will control it. Its seems Chennai is on the same path as Bangalore thanks to the idiotic public of this city, who feel they must welcome every beggar, criminal and refugee and who know’s who else into the city and then face criticism from these same people. When will Chennai learn to respect itself instead of moulding itself to suit people from other states or parts of Hindia.

  8. Rajesh Muthuramalingam (unregistered) on November 24th, 2006 @ 11:02 am

    Hey Shekar I agree with you.You left Murugans Library,Shastri Nagar Sharks,Thesophical Society,Blue Cross, Grand Sweets, Vaanga Vaanga, ZAP, Madya KAilash, Ambika Appalam Depot, Under Ground Woodlands, Adyar Bakery, Shakes and Cream, Ramkay, ClRI.Hats off to you David you have rekindled my memories.I am in Gurgaon will be in chennai this december.Wishing to see many of these places.Sure was a trip down the Wonder Years. Awesome Keep it buddy!

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