Chennai Chronicles

Yup, I’m back!
And boy, are vacations good; we really should have more of these in a year.

Coming to terms with the updates, I’m back at work again, from a long (and thoroughly deserved) vacation in Dubai/Chennai/Cuddalore. And having lived away from home for a while it almost felt weird, because there was a lot about Chennai I really couldn’t place. So, I present my take, on my city.

Chennai on…EVERYTHING.

…eating out:
Bad. Because most ‘normal’ restaurants (the ones that are usually named with a something Bhavan) are so crowded you get the service of a refugee camp, so you end up at the more up-town places throwing away good money on the dumb extras like plush seating and the flower pots.

…the little things that matter:
Like eating hot bajjis at a roadside tea-shop under a tree while sheltering from the rain. Some things just can’t get any better than this, even in Europe!

…internet connectivity:
Totally sucks.
I complain that my PCI here isn’t fast enough… at 2Mbps, what I have on wireless here is faster than most cable broadband setups in Chennai. And we call ourselves the IT hub of the planet.

I think the nicest thing about Chennai.
Everyone’s ready to help a lost guy, give directions, buy train tickets for the ladies, and is willing to share, even with perfect strangers. I once met a guy at a bus-stop who spontaneously starting speaking about how he got late because he had to pay the electricity bill and missed his bus! Its really amazing how much people talk to someone they don’t even know!

…hassle-free shopping:
Or rather the lack of it.
I can’t remember the last time I walked into a store and was by myself. Even the most hip outlets in Chennai hire people who nag you crazy about your size, color, material of choice before you come to a conclusion. And when you tell them you’re “just looking” it translates into a sorry-I’m-not-here-to-buy statement and you don’t get any service anyway.

…the weather:
Whoever thinks Chennai is too hot obviously never lived in the Middle-East. Just a day in Dubai was enough to nearly give me a heat stroke and I think Chennai is okay. Maybe a bit warm but okay. If you think Chennai is bad, please take a trip to somewhere really hot.

Shocking. Every single day had a power outage lasting an hour exactly. So it wasn’t much of an outage as it was a serious shortage of electricity. Wonder where all our tax-payers’ money went?

Every major area has at least one under construction now; places like T-Nagar have two, heck even the airport has one right over it!
Now that’s what I call progress. Not long before we have a city that’s zipping way overhead!

As in small change. I hate 500 rupee bills. Everyone in Chennai gives you a dirty look if you ask change for a 500…unless you make a purchase of over 350. Sometimes I wonder why can’t they come up with a 200 rupee bill instead?

May not totally sum up the city, but if you’ve been away from it for a while, kinda sums up what you feel about it; or at least, what I did.


Anonymous said...

@ARN - welcome back! from my experiences of Chennai, i found the auto rickshaw drivers to be the most peculiar. they'd go at >80kmph with no provisions for seat belts! and boy if the driver blows of a loose screw somewhere in his brain, his speed reaches that of light! lol....and about the power outages, i think tax-payers' money is going towards the nuclear deal with the US rather than paying for electricity. a certain someone wonders if this could even be an illusionary ploy to deceive the public about the necessity of such a deal....

Anonymous said...

Wow ! I think this is one of your best posts. You never mentioned before that were in India !

I think the most crowded restaurant I've seen here is in China Town in Toronto.

The mention of hot bajjis gave me a real craving.
There are time's were're I've had coffee/pizza sheltering from the snow. (OK that so does not compare !)

Skipping to change - here I complain of having lots of change !

Keep em coming !

Rayees Ahamed said...

Chennai Chronicles :D .. hehe , enna ba ithu sounds like narnia chronicles/ Spiderwick Chronicles ...

Desi life is Desi life ... After all we can realize the pleasure of current only by its absence :D , I used to enjoy power cuts, i feel a kind of peace ... except the power cuts during night times , when the still hot concrete ceiling radiates down trickling the whole body and sweat actuated warplanes (mosquitoes) ride over us ...

Anonymous said...

My take on these:

eating out: you could have tried the ones in food courts. Decent service.

the little things that matter: more than bajjis, we love the roadside mouth waters the moment I think of it

internet connectivity: Agreed

people: Agreed (barring a few dangerous auto drivers)

hassle-free shopping:Agreed

electricity: :((((

flyovers: Did you notice the once all-green, GN Chetty road looking so lifeless without the trees?

change: I have never tried that! :)

rahman said...

Yup, in fact I wrote a whole post on autorickshaw drivers here. They seriously have a few screws loose.

C'mon, you can't equate bajjis with pizzas in the snow...but I guess we all make compromises don't we? :D
And even I suffer from the same 'change' problem here...funny how things turn upside down in different countries.

Power cuts, I think, are the worst things in chennai. Mosquitoes...don't even mention it!

"Decent" ones directly translate into expensive ones. At Rs89 a burger, food courts aren't exactly middle-class :)
And agreed with the trees...I used to walk along GN Chetty road everyday. But progress has to go somewhere?

Anonymous said...

89Rs for a burger??!!! Not me.. I can buy a nice, crispy dosai for 30-40Rs in Saravana Bhavan in the food courts.. :)

I belong to the going-to-foodcourts-eat-bhelpuri-masala dosai types.. ;)

Ela said...

Yeah....the internet connectivity in the city is something which got to my nerves and is still driving my brother nuts...

And the over enthusiastic, 'although i work here, i own this place' attituded sales people also make me upset...although couple of times i met few (i guess, 2) sales people who let me do my job and just dropped a comment like "ohhh, it will look very nice on u"....

eating out, i did not try it this time....may be also not the during the last trip....only went to coffee day couple of times and although i liked the atmosphere, i was surprised that they hand over the bill after they serve, without even asking was like saying 'come, drink and get out'!

Arun Sundar said...

It is funny when native people go back home after a few months(maybe years) of stay in a foreign country and write a post as if its their first time visit.

rahman said...

I thought at CoffeeDay they had a policy like, "ask-for-your-bill-and-get-freebies" and stuff to get more ppl to ask for their bills and leave. Probably didn't work out huh?

Actually dude, apart from college and a couple of working years, I almost entirely grew up outside india, so I don't exactly fit that bill :D
In any case, its amazing to see the changes that happen in a coupla yrs you're not there

A wo(a)ndering mind said...

mmmmm... i cant waiiiit to see it myself... overall I gather that it was a good vacation.. well.. when has a vacation even been bad!!! hmmm... hope u r getting settling back well in the grind