Monday, July 5, 2010

Chennai Chettinad Chapter 2: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I came to Chennai on August 2nd, 2005. My orientation was supposed to be on August 4th but my parents wanted to visit the ‘Green’ IIT Madras campus so we landed up early. A little bit of background. My two cousin brothers who were the pass outs of IIT Madras were the living remains which tells the horrifying story of the food served in the Mess at IIT Madras. I was very determined that I am going to prove them wrong. I am going to accept, adapt and evolve. My first lunch at IIT Madras mess - I took Rasam in the bowl. Trust me it was a daring step if you had seen the look of that thing. I soon realized that it was a deadly step too. I couldn’t get it down. That was my first and the last try at having Rasam.

And that’s how it all started – the great Chennai chapter of my life which is coming to an end on July 23, 2010. Almost 5 years. Like all other place this place also has its worst and its best.

Lets talk about worst first because bitching is always more fun…
1.Autowallah: There was never a time when I asked an autowallah to go somewhere and he didn’t reply with a figure as large as the Avogadro number. You ask them to go anywhere and they will say 200. It’s the only figure I guess they know. The trick is to never approach the autos standing in a group, know the approximate fare beforehand and tell them if they will go in that or cut short whatever they say to one fourth. But still they would be a pain in the ass.

2 Language: The people here don’t understand Hindi. I understand, it happens. But the most bizarre thing is that for one moment they will be talking in Hindi and as soon as the conversation starts going against their way, they forget every single word they ever knew about Hindi.

3.Metro: Chennai aint a metro. If this is a metro then Bhopal is also a metro. And Indore is a super metro. Chennai is like DD Metro. Metro in the name but nothing inside it. For a long long time it was the city with two malls out of which one is Spencer Plaza which is less of a mall and
more of Palika Bazar. With three multiplexes, McDonalds starting their first outlet in 2008 and city shutting down at 9.00PM. Chennai aint metro.It’s the largest village of the country.

4.Culture: I have never been able to come to terms with the claim of it being a ‘Traditional City’. Almost all the people try to moral police on the grounds of their self proclaimed affection towards the Indian Culture. I have always believed that culture is anything which a group of people follow. However, just because you haven’t experienced, that culture does not become objectionable. Especially when 80% of the Indian porn is supplied from down south, you have no right to object. (More on this in some other post.)

I can go on for so many things like rudeness of female passengers in the bus because sitting beside a guy will destroy their sanity or closing the bar at 11 when it’s the time you actually start. But like every city Chennai has the other side of the coin too.

The greatest thing that this city offers is peace. If you are living somewhere near the sea, you can hear the sounds of gushing waves sitting on your rooftop in the calm silent night. It is at that moment when everything wrong about this city looks worth living. There is nothing compared to driving on the ECR road, late in the night with the feel of air coming from the beach running at one side of the road. You just have to take any turn and sit on the one of the longest sea shore. As for me, all these rides have always been the contemplation rides for me. They have helped me in coming to terms with so many things.

Some quick ground rules for survival:
1. Don’t eat anything with the name Kurma.
2. Don’t hesitate to try Andhra mess. They look like shit but serve
one of the most amazing food.
3. Don’t ever pick a fight with an autowallah.
4. Don’t ever pay any money in advance to any autowallah.
5. Don’t panic when you get caught without helmet by the cops. The bribe
charges are very nominal 100-200 bucks.
6. Learn eating rice before coming here.
7. Also learn to eat without watching. It will definitely help.
8. Whenever in pain, go sit on the beach. Life will be good again.
9. Get ready to drink the most amazing beers in your life. Sweet, sour and bitter. Every flavor is available.
10.Don’t drink MGM vodka unless you are determined to die from food poisoning.

I always hated this city. I am very much sure that I will not return here. But I never thought some part of me would love somethings about this city. And it surely does.


The Flower Of English Grammar said...

the avogadro number is back!!! n u didn't mention unexpected bloody hits once every year which u have fallen prey for so many times!!!

Chanz said...

U started your post with my birth date... yay..!!!

and I couldnt read any further... :P

lol @ DD metro joke.. I couldnt understand it in the first read..
btw whats with the vodka story..??

Abhinav said...

MGM and Monitor can be used as a substitute to spirit.

Aniket said...

Liked the post. To Chennai, that raised us all!

Pratik Gupta said...

@Flowerry grammar: I guess its time to forget those and move ahead in Life.watsay? :P

@Chanz: OMG! 2nd Aug is your bday. A special post wil be posted just for you that day. Vodka story is : there is a brand name MGM Vodka which has 100% strike rate of killing the people who drink it. and Sadly that is the second best brand available in Chennai.

Pratik Gupta said...

@Abhinav: Rightly said. and similarly I guess its safe to use spirit instead of MGM and Monitor.:P

@Aniket: To Chennai! :)

Hetero sapien said...

Haha. Nice one about DD Metro. Double D Metro ;-)

The Holy Lama said...

Reads like your mind. Seems you are really fed up with Chennai except ECR. Can't say what future holds for you. There are worse places to be in.

Nipun said...

Info well given.
Never a dull moment in Chennai.. Kyu sahi h na?

Chennai se kahan ja rahe ho?
Changing company kya?
Chennai is the biggest village of India...Lolzzzzz
80% porn wali baat pe I want more explanations..



Samvedna said...

Inspite of everything you said is true.I like Chennai:)

Pratik Gupta said...

@Shatto: :) Glad That you liked it.

@Holy lama: Trust me there arent any place worse than Chennai and if its there Chennai lesson has taught me to not go thr.

Pratik Gupta said...

@Nipun: Babes its bangalore me and pandit is happening pretty soon and 80% porn will be described then and there itself :)

Pratik Gupta said...

@Samvedna: Trust me you would not like to be here whatever I say :)

@Mr. Happy: Thanks for the comment and liking it :)

Ashwin said...

Brilliant post!

Well, I suppose it is true that when you hate someone/ something/ some place for far too long - you actually end up loving it!

JUMPER said...

Awesome post!!

Pratik Gupta said...

@Ashwin: Amazingly said..absolutely True!! :)

@Jumper: Thanks mayte!! :)

Kaushik said...

A few points of concurrences and counter points.

Autos : Definitely horrible. Badly operated with nexus with the police. Ridiculous rates. Needs to be completely revamped.

Culture : Sitting next to a guy being a taboo is preposterous. Fully agree with you. High time people become more practical with such stupid formalities.

Language : I disagree. Why is it necessary to know Hindi in a place where noone speaks it? Do you expect people to speak Hindi in France? Hindi is the primary official language of the country. Not the official language. There are 17 other languages and each state can choose its own. Is is Tamil here. Malayalam in Kerala. Hindi isn't universal. If people with no clue of Hindi can learn it when they go to Delhi, why can't the converse happen?

Food : Again a problem with adaptation. Rice is the staple food here just like it is different in the North. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is true everywhere. Do people get idlis at IITK? No!!!

Metro : A metro isn't defined by the no of malls or pubs or McDonalds. Let's get facts right. It is defined by the population in the place (above 40 lakhs) and to a certain extent by the economic and trade activity.

Pratik Gupta said...

@Kaushik: First of all I apologize if I have went wrong in some of the points but I hope you understand that this is a personal blog and points I am making just my observation. Regarding your remarks:
A few points of concurrences and counter points.

Language: With Language I only meant the way people forget all the Hindi as things start going out of their way specifically Autowaalah I am talking about. I never expect people to speak hindi and I completely understand and respect that India is a land of so many dialects.

Food: I never had an issue with the food. Its just Rasam and Kurma I am against and you cant blame me for that. You can’t expect a South Indian to like Baati. It’s just like that.

Metro: “A metro isn't defined by the no of malls or pubs or McDonalds. Let's get facts right. It is defined by the population in the place (above 40 lakhs) and to a certain extent by the economic and trade activity.” I totally agree I was wrong by the definition of Metro but what I was pointing out by the Metropolitan culture. I was never arguing about the population or area of the city. I was just cribbing about the metropolitan culture.

PS: My blog or write up is not to create public opinion. It’s something that I feel or believe. I may be right, I may be wrong. But who cares?

Kaushik said...

I completely understand that this is your personal opinion man. No offence. But I just wanted to bring in an alternative viewpoint and I can see what you wanted to convey from your reply. Waiting for more posts :)


Shruti said...

Autowallahs: You bet, mini mafia in themselves. As soon as they near the destination, they start singing "too far saaarr, 20 rs more saarrr, 30 rs more saaarrr. Once, when my sister was here, the guu started quoting from 120, insti to spencer, came down to 70, upon reaching said 70 "each"...
The culture:try being a girl walking on the street wearing a sleeveless kurti..the aunties and uncles look at you as if you are some polluted creature who would need "shuddhikaran".
The metropolitan culture (or the lack of it): The first time we decided to visit a pub in Chennai, we got ready by 10 the nite, deciding to leave by 10 30 (given the fact tht I had only been to pubs in Bombay). God bless the seniors who informed us before we reached that Chennai shuts down at 11 (ofc we had a tough time finding a restaurant that was open at 11..and we were starving).
All the same, it had the beach, pondicherry and its economically priced and readily available resources closeby, and it had IITM. So, yeah, to Chennai :)

Pratik Gupta said...

@Shruti: Shruti Shruti Shruti....Thanks a lot for coming by and dropping a long long comment :)
BTW: 70 each....heheheheh!!!