It’s a lost city. I’d always call it that, you know, like Darlymple calls Delhi, the City of Djinns, Suketu Mehta decided to call Mumbai, “The Maximum City”, Kolkatta of course is called “the City of Joy” (by all the proud Bengalis 🙂 )
Chennai is “The Lost City.” Not because it has no culture, in fact it’s the most culturally sound city I have ever been in. It has a history and a language and even has a rhythm. But it’s still lost because it has no face. Just when you think, Chennai is the culmination of all things intellectual, a person walks up to you and says, “Monday is a bad day to move” or worse still you see the same person peeing on the corner of the street seconds later.
Not that these things don’t happen in Delhi or Mumbai but the faces of these cities allow such sick activities, Chennai always tries to maintain this intelligence and then walks ahead and pees in the corner.
As a city, it has few hangout joints, now I know what the Chennaiites would say, that’s because you havent been to these joints. But really think about it, we have a metropolitan with exactly 3 malls and exactly 3 multiplexes…not a good picture. While the rest of the Metros (and I am not counting Thiruvananthapuram coz well…it’s in Kerala) boast of new airports and new Metro Railways. Chennai can boast extremely little when it comes to infrastructure.
To an outsider, the people seem a tad too conservative, they judge you if you wear jeans and hate you if you speak more than one language. Their logic : If you can speak in Hindi, Malayalam and English at the same time Why did you not take time out to learn Tamil!
The auto drivers are probably the worst thing about Chennai, they are rude, obnoxious and charge twice as much as Bangalore auto drivers! (I calculated!).
The biggest plus points are of course, the thriving Rock culture, there are a lot of original Rock bands from Chennai that are genuine in their pursuit of good music. Also, People of Chennai LOVE TO READ. and I love that about them, even the ones who don’t know English, read in Tamil but they read.
Chennai is nevertheless lost, between the new and the old between the beauty of the Margazhi Masam and the rocking jives of the pubs. Not much to boast of as a nightlife though all pubs close at 11 30.
People in Chennai are a little too sensitive to shouting, which is why someone from Chennai would hate Delhi. The daily routine doesn’t involve fighting excessively and offices are astonishingly full of doormats 🙂
But that doesn’t mean they are without their venom, they just don’t say it on your face. If you boss says you don’t have to finish it today, it means I’m going to give you a rating of 2/5 anyway for asking if you could do it tomorrow! Everyone in the city is running away from it and that seems a little sad.
I’m out of the lost city, but often I found myself torn in Chennai. To accept the people and do same unto them what they do to me or to play the role of the over adjusting outsider who took time off to learn Tamil 🙂
It frustrates you with the heat, the lack of places to see, the excess of time but it also wins you over with the strength of the culture, the abundance of book shops and of course the Chennai Sangamam! 🙂
Will miss it! Will always miss the city of lost souls!