CHENNAI CITY – It was neither the place where I was born nor the place where I was brought up, but it is the place that I regard as my hometown. It is the place where I feel free. I believe that for everyone, the place where they synch with most becomes their favorites. No place is better than another in a true sense. Yet, each one of us has our own favorite place. For me, it is CHENNAI.
I lived in my native village until 4th standard and then left abroad. I came back in tenth class to Chennai. I had come here previously during vacations to India. When I landed in Chennai, knowing that this was where I was going to spend some time of my life, no feelings came to me. I was half worried about leaving my freinds behind at Saudi and half scared about having to start afresh in India. People have their own ways of scaring the living day lights out of you and they had made sure that I had a negative impression when I came to India.
But I did not find anything to complain about. Mainly because I found the people friendly and willing to help. When I came from abroad, I found the local transport system extremely good. I find people from North complaining about buses. If they did not know, Chennai has the best linked transport network in India. The To and From stops are written in Tamil and English along with the bus numbers in bold. In most other places in India, there is not even this much.
Many people from North and from within Interior TamilNadu complain about people being disrespectful. A guy from North was saying that he did not buy a bus ticket and the bus conductor shouted at him. What kind of respect did a ticketless passenger expect? Perhaps the conductor should have taken him aside and counselled him. People from interior Tamilnadu also complain about the disrepect. Can I go to Tirunelveli and complain about people roaming around with sickles in their hands?
I love the wide avenues of Besant Nagar and I used to enjoy cycling in the morning to school. How fresh it is!! In the evening, we used to walk back from school pushing our cycles and talking all nonsense. The beach here knows our inner minds because we have ranted on there, let out all our feelings, happy or sad. How many days we would have spent just loitering around in Spencers!! It is a wonder how time can fly when we are with our friends – just with them, even if we arent doing anything constructive.
The walls of Sathyam would tell you how much we enjoyed and how much we commented if just they could speak! The temples in Chennai are very old and steeped in history. If you are the religious kind, Chennai has places of worship for all religions. There arent very many places that do. Nearby Chennai is the temple town of Kanchi, the magnetic Tirupathi and the beautiful Mahabs. An hour and a half away is Pondy. Every December, the music and dance season is conducted with a fervor unmatched in contemporary India. After the Tyagaraja Utsavam in Tiruvayyaru, it is the Music Academy stage where quality performers long to perform. I havent heard of a beautiful and informative place like DakshinChithra anywhere else in India.
Schools and Colleges – Chennai again has some of India’s best schools and world renowned universities. People from all states come here to pursue higher education. This is the place that has produced great scholars including Abdul Kalam. Chennai is now most sought after by industrialists.
I dont think there is a better place to shop than TNagar. Get into Ranganathan Street, bargain with the sellers there, have an aruguement and get your stuff. Try this once. Thats how bliss feels. We have areas that specialise in selling specific items. Each street in Parry’s specialises in selling a particular item or offering a particular service. Apart from that, we have Richie’s Street that sells all electronic items, Thousand Lights area where you can get any type of lights, etc. We have Asia’s largest vegetable market in Koyambedu and Asia’s largest bus stand there as well. Our Chennai airport is as good as any in India.
The Hotels – Chennai has a wide array of hotels ranging from Kay Endhi Bhavans to Five Stars. The Kai Endhi Bhavan in Masilamani Street is a place to start with. It is very hygenic and one of the best thallu vandi food stalls in Chennai. What to say of the bajjis in the beach? They are just too good. Rathna Cafe’s sambar and coffee is A1. Mansukh’s caters to the Gujju and Rajasthani’s tastes while the Sanjeevanam chain caters to the health conscious. Anjappar, Arasappar and Karaikkudi cater to the Chettinad tongues. Cakes and Snacks from Adyar bakery and Fresh Bakes are a class apart. Venkatramana Bholi stall is unmatcheable and the Saravana Bhavan string caters to the upper middle class. The recently sprung Adyar Ananda Bhavan is applaudable especially when it comes to chat, sweets and snacks. The Taj, The Chola Sheraton, Le Royal also find their crowd here. Apart from these, each and every area has its own speciality hotel rendering food services according to the tastes of people there and their budgets. Juice stalls are aplenty and so are the icecream stalls.
People from Bangalore complain that the city is hot. They couldnt get dumber. People who go the arctic shouldnt complain that it is cold. Thats something I find senselss. Weather is part of a city’s geographic location. It is something that nature bestows upon the place. In fact, as a true Chennaiite, I find this heat is what makes Chennai cool. We never felt the heat when we roamed around during school and college days. It was the heat that we enjoyed, the heat that we played with, the heat that we duelled with, the heat that we celebrated. The recent song from Veyil portrays our feelings very well. Come to think of it, whats a place without sunlight?
Chennai Central – what to say of it? Whenever I come back from any tour and the train chugs into Chennai Central from Basin Bridge and I can hear "Chennai maanagaratchi ungalai anbudan varaverkiradhu", I feel my lost self coming back to me. I feel at home.