Its been a year and a half, since I last felt this amazing impossibility to open my eyes in the morning, sleeping in the smallest room of Upasana... the place that still strangely still feels closest to being 'home'...a year and a half since I was in Chennai. Singara Chennai.
So there I was...riding my good old scooty,(Basanti 'reloaded' as it was lovingly named by good old friends), in the narrow streets of Mylapore Tank. One of those streets that are smugly flanked on either side by vegetable sellers, and flower sellers, with pedestrians everywhere, making you wonder if the road was built for cars at all...and then a huge toyota innova comfortably zooms past you, with a continuous honk...and you open your eyes wide, half-expecting to see blood on the road as a result of some traumatic accident...but all's good, and you will never understand how. But coming back to the point - we were on a scooty riding on this road, and suddenly, in the middle of the road, right in the middle of the road, we see this humongous structure made of leaves. This structure... 15 feet tall, and maybe around 7 feet long just stood there on the road, in front of a temple, and all the other million scooties and pulsars made their way around it. What the cars did, I do not know. There it was... total chaos. Bikes all over, pedestrians all over, people building the 'structure' walking to and from the stack of leaves... and my dear brother said the exact words that were in my mind - THIS, can happen only in India. So we rode on, making our way around the 'structure' on the great south mada street, to reach destination: Karpagambal mess. A place I've heard my brother rave about for years! After a breakfast that felt like it would keep us full for the day we stepped out, my brother complaining about how the standard of the food had come down so totally, and what a shame it was that I hadn't eaten in the place when it was at its yummy best, and what an idiot I was for missing it. Sigh.
Some things never change. Some things might, but I can't even start to explain how glad I am that my relationship with Chennai hasn't changed one bit. I love it for the same reasons I did before, and detest the same things as I did.
Paati's hot-sweet-ginger-tea still has its charm. I don't think any other tea will ever make me feel like her tea does.
The potholes are still horrible, and immensely annoying.
The roads are still dug out just before the rains, and is never covered up, as a result of which one's patiala pants unhappily encounter spots of rich brown slush!
The traffic rules are still changing dynamically, increasing the number of one-ways. I still find it maddening, and want to write a blog post about it each time I'm on the road!
I still sing the same song when I'm on my scooty. I think its been the same for over 2 years now. The humming bit in hey goodbye nanba, follwed by the 2 paragraphs and never the main lines.
Riding on boat club road is still pure bliss...
Street dogs have the same effect on me. I still want to run, and I still think they want to follow me and bite me.
Anantram Periappa's coffee still tastes better than any coffee day or barista coffee.
Suriya sweets vazhaikai bajji is something else. Nothing better in the evenings, no matter how much oil my thatha's dinamalar paper can suck out of it!
Saravanabhavan sambar vadai is still THE thing! I found myself giving my mamas strange looks when they insisted on eating medhu vadai with a spoon in Saravanabhavan. It took me sometime to realise that at our table of 5, i was the only one blissfully using my hands to eat, and it made me strangely happy!
Orange kucchi ice still costs 5Rs. It has, for the last i-don't-know-how-many years!
And I could go on...
But some things have changed...
Someone cut down the awesome gulmohar tree outside our balcony when I was away... I might have pulled off a 'chipko' if I was here!
Suriya sweets now has a separate stall for bajjis and puffs and weird buns. For some reason, I'm just not able to accept it!
Raniamma went back to thirupathi. I miss her. I dreamed of her. twice. I was wondering if I might go looking for her someday!
My pin-up board is EMPTY. Sigh.
Aunty closed her shop :( Now I have no idea where to find the second best corn florentine in the city! And I blame it on aunty that Nidhee and I haven't had a date yet!
I've just started to realise tha pains of jewellery shopping. I sincerely wish this shall be the last time I would have to do it, even though it is the first! Maybe I'll save this for another post!
I love Chennai. Just being here...the spirit of it. I know I'll come back someday...to stay.
For some reason... I'm going to dedicate this post to Sukanya Venkataraman. Maybe there are some vague reasons... For what she did today. And for giving me the most excited welcome I've had. Suk, I can't even start to explain how it felt to open that box. I swear, if it came to Aus, i'd have cried for a very long time. Thank you. I instinctively wanted to give you one long hug... I let it pass. So here's your lost hug - <3 :) Plus you'd told me not to touch you ;) Lol... Love you! And, I'm going to keep up my post card promise. Maybe not once a month, but atleast now and then.
Yours "Sorgame endraalum..."ly