Archive for the ‘Daily Living’ Category

Painted Houses at Chennai

This is a house in a residential colony at Velachery in Chennai. What is striking about the image is the paint – fluorescent paint – in ghastly colours. This is a recent trend observed in different parts of the city. These colours are not so pleasant to eyes. Yet there could be reasons why people go for such paints. In some apartments, only the frontage is painted with such colours. Some sources say it has got to do with Vaastu.

Vaastu is considered significant in India as it is an ancient science on the use and correctness of the space. A friend tells me that such fluorescent paints are sold as Vaastu paints by paint companies to dispose of their not so fast moving shades. The second image is that of a mansion at Triplicane ( bachelor’s quarters in Triplicane area are called mansions).

The third image is a shopping complex coming up at Taramani Road which houses Peter England showroom in the ground and first floor. The frontage painted with fluorescent shade paint.

A search in google with “Vaastu – Colours” throws some 55,800 entries. One such site www.  correlates colours with Zodiac signs as below :

Zodiac sign Colors suggested
Aries                            Coral red
Taurus                         Milky white
Gemini                         Green
Cancer                         Rose red, pearl white
Leo                              Ruby red, dim white
Virgo                           Emerald green
Libra                            Cement color, milky white
Scorpio                        Pink, coral red
Sagittarius                   Golden yellow
Capricorn                     Dim red
Aquarius                      Pink, blue
Pisces                          Yellow, pure white

The same site also bring out the colors compatible with the directions.

It is common belief in this part of the world that certain colours are lucky, brings good fortune and certain colours bring ill luck. The marriage invitations are still printed in yellow colour and obituaries are bordered in black.

But why this sudden craze for fluorescent shades ?

Could it be true that paint companies are selling their slow moving shades by calling them Vaastu Paints ?

Enterprise … the roadside

An array of soft dolls, toys on display on the car backs at Pondy Bazaar, T Nagar. All display and sales happen on the roadside and the display changes in an instant when the parked vehicle leaves to the next car.

Back to Business

Every year starting April 16th, there is a ban on fishing in the Tamilnadu Coast from Thiruvallur to Kanyakumari Districts. Since scientists found fish breeding to be active in the eastern coastal belt during April and May, fishing by mechanised boats from Thiruvallur to Kanyakumari districts is prohibited between April 15 and May 29. The ban excludes fishing by country boats and catamarans.


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. (more…)

Newspaper before morning coffee?

If you know Chennai, you will know that morning filter coffee and newspaper (in that order) are the city’s trademark habits, so to speak. Well, there is a slight shift in that order.

Die-hard Chennaites will love this… the morning newspapers are being delivered ahead of the milk in many areas in the city. Many friends have reported that they are receiving their papers by 5 am. Of the three major dailies one is being delivered at 5, another a few minutes behind , while the third is tossed by 6 am.

What is more, the 5 am drop beats even the e-paper delivery… I personally checked out. My Delhi-based popular daily’s e-paper is `delivered’ on some days at 5.40, others at 5.20 ad sometimes at 6 in my mailbox, but is yet to touch the 5 am benchmark!!!

It is common knowledge that Times of India is set to launch its edition in the coming weeks and the existing print media is gearing up for competition. It is widely speculated that more upcountry papers may look at the Chennai paper –pie in the coming years.

All of which is good news for the Chennaivasi !! An advertising source tells me that the metro has one of the largest newspaper readership figures, both in English and the vernacular. Unfortunately I could not get the exact figures to share with you all.

As of now the paper boy is ahead of not only the electronic delivery, but is also beating the milkman hollow. (I am referring to door delivery, of course, although we all know we can get a packet of milk at any milk both even at 4. 30 in the morning).

Good news, all told, I guess.

Business with Flowers @ Koyambedu Malar Angadi

Note: The result of interesting conversations with our flower-sellers.

To many, Chennai might seem a city of glass and chrome (or huts and slush if you look at it another way). Of multistoried apartments, software pottis, cut-outs, corporate structures, sweeping financial tides and sky-scrapers. Old-timers might mourn the loss of many traditions now long lost … but there are still a few left, which bring up a tsunami of memories. Not to mention the fact that a huge industry exists, based on centuries old tradition, right under our very noses. It’s composed of a set of rules, properly followed, a large turnover, and teeming hordes of industrious workers who make sure its wheels turn smoothly.

They’re the flower-sellers of Chennai.

They’re usually part of a blink-and-you-miss act in the usual routine of the average Chennaiite; they’re around in the mornings or evenings, dressed in well-worn saris, toting a huge basket filled with every kind of native flowers that the landscape has to offer. The women of the house are the ones who generally look out for these flower-ladies, checking their wares of jasmine, kadhambam, roses, saamandhi and every other colourful, fragrant blossom in the bloom-spectrum. And that’s just the first part of the process. The other consists of haggling over the prices, groaning over the steadily increased rates, sighing over the days when flowers were practically free, or grown in one’s gardens … and then coming to certain conclusions about what to buy, what not to, sharing some good-natured gossip about the worldly happenings, and then going each other’s way.

And that’s just the simple part.

What’s much more complicated is the intricate web of commerce that connects all of them together. Meenatchi, a 50ish flower-seller who frequents the streets of Alapakkam, is one of the important cogs that help the system run efficiently. She’s aware of the fact too – right down to the finesse of speech that categorizes down-to-earth people such as her.

“Selling flowers makes me independent,” she says nonchalantly, measuring a length of jasmine against her arm for Rs 10. “My children are all grown up now and settled – and I need a source of income to see me through. What I earn here is more than enough.”

Her days start early enough, and at Koyambedu, the perennial flower-market that’s the parent body for these smaller sellers. “I go around the streets surrounding the Meenakshi dental College, and right up to Valasaravakkam,” she divulges. “People are always fond of flowers – so I’ve no trouble selling mine.”

For Vasanthi, part of a sister-duo that takes the Nungambakkam beat, things aren’t so easy. “Where have I got the time to stop and chat?” she asks breathlessly, as I try to get her to into a conversation. “I’m up from 4 in the morning, and I have to get my business done by 7 AM,” she rattles, handing out bunches of roses and lotuses to a long queue of customers. Incredibly, her prices are even higher than Meenatchi’s. “Well, it’s a muhurtha day,” she explains, though her eyes drop. “And I’m already sold out – must get more from my sister.” She hurries away before I can question the atrocity of getting two lotuses for twenty rupees. “What can I do?” she calls out. “The prices at the market are so high.”

Deciding that this mysterious market of theirs warranted investigation, I made plans for an expedition to the famed Koyambedu flower-market, the common supplying-point for many of the flower-sellers that swept over the cityscape. Earlier based in Parrys, this focal point had shifted sometime ago to Koyambedu, a sprawling cement structure where I discovered, much to my amazement, that one entire building, the size of a good-sized southern Tamil temple, was wholly occupied by the Koyambedu Malar Angadi – the Flower Market.

Rose Heap


We are ahead of Dubai and Singapore.

Dubai is a little behind us. Singapore, Malaysia.. pfft, quite. Are you asking about what this is about? Land prices my friend, land prices.

While at a friendly get-together yesterday evening, it seemed like all the conversations revolved around the changing landscape of Chennai. I whispered under my breathe to a friend that it seems real-estate is the hot topic for the day, to which he made a public announcement that its always a topic, because either we bought it and are hoping the prices will remain this way (or better yet keep rising), or we cant afford and we are just jealous. I am wondering if there is truth to it – there might be. (more…)

Is Higginbothams getting outdated?


potum: Via Ravages, aka. Chandrachoodan

History: Muthiah

Chennai’s sexual anxiety

Chenthil during a recent mini-Vodkathon tells me (and a gang of five) that Tamil men never get laid before marriage. They also lack the confidence to approach and flirt with girls – brash and brazen. Whether that is true or not, I don’t know. He doesn’t either, really speaking. But if was funny in a way that I can’t quite bring out in this blog post.

Chalta Hai and Cream Center

The omnipresent attitude across India and the often cited blame for India’s poor state of affairs is its ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude. Now even restaurants seem to have imbibed the attitude, especially after the concept of dining emerged. Now one dines at a restaurant, one does not go there for just the food. When it was the latter the emphasis was on the food, now its more on ambience and atmosphere.

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