Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid
Chennai is a city full of life. There is always something happening, always someplace to go to. When I came here in 1997, I fell in love with this place instantly. Now, in 2011, after more than 14 years, I reflect on the changes that I have seen this city go through.
There was a time when TNagar was devoid of Pothys. Can you even imagine that now? I keep trying to think what was there in that space before Pothys was built and all I draw is a blank. Someone please help me! 🙂 Pothys today is a landmark in Chennai city. Back then, TNagar only had Naidu Hall, GRT, Nalli, Kumaran and ofcourse the platform shops. Now, TNagar boasts of all the brands in the world.
There were 3 STD booths in Besant Nagar. If you came to the beach and wanted to let your people know that you would be late, you needed to wait in line there. Now all those booths are gone because everybody has a cell phone. You can hear a minimum of 4 signature tunes in every house.
Everytime I pass by Besant Videos, I think of the cassette tapes we used to borrow from there to see movies on a VCR. Kaho Naa Pyar Hai had released and my cousin brought the tape home on the first day. We hailed him as a hero. Now, if I ask in the shop for DVD, the guy laughs at me. He says this is the time of Blu Rays! Seems DVDs are for museum shelves!
Back then, I remember we were one of those rare houses to have a computer. I laugh at myself when I think I used to store data on floppies. I think the size was 300 MB or so. Today, my brother and I own a laptop each and we each have extra hard drives over 500 GB and we find that is not enough!
Then we lived in the pre google era. Back in the late 90s, if you said you were going to the cyber café to browse the net, you were a big deal. Internet was Rs.60 an hour. Now, it is 850 for an entire month’s unlimited supply – 1.2 an hour! And that’s at a whooping profit for the company. Whoa!
I remember those countless hours I spent at the Bessi (Elliots Beach) with Shweta. It used to be only the two of us after night fell. I remember gazing out the terrace from my athai’s house at night at an empty beach. According to census 2011, Chennai is the most densely populated city in India!
I was at the shop buying a new touch mobile day before yesterday. I was there for close to 30 minutes bargaining and all. I noticed the guy sold 5 mobiles, 1 memory card, 1 charger, 1 battery and took two phones for repair in the time I was there. More than that, everyone was conversing with the shopkeeper in English, most of them with an American accent. Back in 1997, my brother and I were the only two people in our school to speak with an American accent (because we had come from abroad). We used to be teased!
Woodlands has become Semmozhi Poonga and more people are flocking towards Express Avenue than Spencer Plaza. The Chepauk stadium has transformed from a concrete crucible to a breezy cricket field. And Kollywood produces the biggest budget film in India and more films than any other industry in India. I have never seen such an aggressive Chennai!
This laid back city had only one disco – EC41. Now, every major hotel has a disco. There is one in Besant Nagar itself! I remember going for movies with my cousins in the late 90s and then the theatres used to be one building – mostly dingy steps and a bad smell. Today, Chennai offers so many multiplexes. Satyam even has a screen in front of every toilet seat!
There was a time when the good old Bajaj Chetak and Maruti 800 ruled the roads. People with cars were few and far between. Now, we have Audis, Benzs, BMWs, Chevys and Volkswagens on the road! According to some survey Chennai adds 3000 new automobiles PER DAY! There are over 150 new people migrating to the city every month! Never before did Chennai have such intensity!
I remember as a teenager going with my family to some of the popular temples. I used to see kids playing in the praharams. But now, the only free place in any temple in the sanctum sanctorum (garbha graham)! In the pre Pothys era, one could sit for hours on end in a temple and get bored of looking at the God. Now, one needs to stand for hours on end in a queue to get even a fleeting glimpse of God!
The pre mp3 period is also something that I cannot imagine again. We used to have Sony Walkmans and rewind the tapes with Reynolds pens! Hayyo hayyo! But we switched so effortlessly into the age of the ipods and jog dials!
There used to be very few tamil channels on cable and only one Saptaswarangal program that selected the best singer. The winner used to be rewarded something that I don’t even remember. Today, every channel has its own super singer, star singer, top singer programs and each winner is gifted a minimum of 20 lakhs! Chennai has become Chennai Inc!
I recently watched Gentleman movie on TV. I started laughing – because 44.5 crores was a huge amount! LOL! ROTFL! Where is that when compared with DMK ஆ.ராசா’s (A.Raja) 1.76 lakh crores?! 44.5 crores seems to be petty cash!
Times have changed! And I am happy about of most of these changes!