My Dear Madras

My beloved Madras,

madras

Happy birthday! Turning 377 is no mean feat and turning so to be younger, vibrant and busy year on year is definitely something to be proud of. Obviously we can only think and dream of the energy that you achieve every year.

Born as Chennai in 1639, you have come a long way. Battling out an identity crisis between being Madras and Chennai, going through all the tremendous transformations physically and culturally, withstanding misery, seeing your arteries clogged and throat choked, you have lived a complete life.

You have played a beautiful role by providing livelihood to thousands of dreamers and travellers who didn’t want to die. Kodambakkam has seen more stories than all the theatres put together. T Nagar has seen more happiness than anything else ever seen before. You have fulfilled and fueled people’s lives and livelihood.

How does it feel to see your children scourging your body mercilessly, in the greed to have more? How does it feel to pollute your insides with the dusty air and scummy water? How does it feel to grow from a naive, fair maiden to a wily and bold woman? Was the transformation worth it? Did you feel awesome to have outgrown the expectations set for you? I guess not.

While people remember you once in a year for the history that you hold, people stomp on you every single minute for their own greedy pursuits. I saw the floods as your fury against the rampant encroachment that you were being subjected to and sweetie, I am so sorry for your plight. I can do only so much for your comfort, for I am not as benevolent a mother as you were, are and always will be.

I can probably say goodbye to my dreams of owning a house so that you can heave a sigh of relief. I can probably carry a cloth bag with me always so that you can stay free from the lecherous polythene that violate you. I can choose to reduce my use of own vehicle so that you can breathe better air once in a whiile. I can plant a few saplings and take care of them like you did of me, so that you can be cool when the world is spewing fire.

It saddens me to see people treat you this way. It makes me miserable to stand witness to such atrocities by your own children. It oddly reminds me of those merciless kids and their old parents and the name boards of old age homes. It pushes me into those deep chasms of helplessness and misery.

I am sorry on all our behalf for such an onslaught. Honestly I have no idea as to when you will be back to those good old days. In fact, although I wish I could deny it, it seems impossible ever.

You shall be that maiden who had millions chasing her for some love. You shall be that mother who had given that compassionate smile to not just your baby but to all the babies who were abandoned and shunned by the society. You shall be that father who carried all the burden of life, without as much a whimper, just to see his family smile. You shall be that sibling who was promptly present, twitching one’s arms, when the other sibling was in trouble. You shall be the soulmate who understood my thoughts and lived, just so that I can live my dreams. Finally, you shall be that grandparent, who stealthily pampers the grandkid with loads of love and what-nots with an abundance of love.

Here’s to you, a very happy birthday sweetheart, you are the darling of millions of people!

 

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After The Floods- 4/x

Paru

A story that took me back to my school days.(Of course, there are a few people out there who still doubt if I am past iskool, as they would like to call it). A story that took me back to those stories that beat the dead snake of Hope and Struggle. The narration is good and reminded me of those Non-detail stuff that I was given to read when I was at school. Describing the fury of the floods in graphic detail, there is a little too much “un” prefixed words out there. Just Beware!

Verdict– Back to iskool with floods, if I may say.

Rains, Dairy Milk Chocolates and Us

A loooooooooong story that again imprisons “love” in its words. When I spotted the word “lingerie” I had hoped for a nice read, but then the lingerie was ripped off the story with all force that one could use. Okay, I digress.

A relevant concept for the new gen couples, the story is long that couples would risk missing their “we” time if sat to read this post 10 PM. Again, Beware!

Verdict– take a day off to read and relish! And oh! please ask your spouse to stay back too.

Safe

A crisp tale revolving around terrorism, I was relieved to see a change. Then by the time I reached the last line, I had forgotten that change that I had loved. I would have loved this one if it had somehow held on to that freshness. The name of the protagonist, “Suraksha” seemed so fake, by the way.

It would have been great if Hari had known that December 6th is the Babri Masjid sambavam and not the Bombay Blasts. Just saying, you know.

Verdict– varalaaru miga mukyam, Amaicharey!

The Gangs of Namma Chennai

Strangers turn family, thanks to a disaster and an NGO. Oscillating between two periods of time, this story is a little long. I could hear all the NGOs in the world cry out loud begging to spare them through the rest of the collection. The narration is a plus, but for that, it is the same wet batter, ground to death a millionth time.

Verdict– The title could have been much better.

The High Rise

This one, in deep contrast to its neighboring stories, is crisper than the paper roast served at Sangeetha. I would have loved it if it was a little “story-ish” than “paragraph-ish”. Oh may be the author took the “Save paper, Save trees” campaign to heart.

Verdict-Konjam dhaaraalama ezhudhalamey!

The Rain Maker

The technical jargon and outlandish concepts detailed in it gave an idea of the person behind the pen. Quite different outline, deviating pleasurably from the usually served stale food. Started off well, only to end a little dry. Again, One must not give hopes to smash it to smithereens. Sigh!

Verdict– Could have been Something. But Nope.

The Two Old Men

Personal favorite in the collection, this one was good. Refreshing yet endearing, it was relatable and may be that made it more endearing. Although the setting of the story is a little far fetched in actual terms, it is nice to dream I suppose.

Verdict– Summava Admin nu solranga. A job done well.

Vanilla Cappuccino

Ah! The pangs of Love, yet again. ‘Nuff said.

Verdict– The end was like- “Soooo Naaaaa Paaaaa Naaaaa, vidra vidra yaarum paakala”.

If only silence could speak

They had hit it off right away, right there. Their mutual love for music, filter coffee and subtle romance, sprinkled with right amounts of practicality and life lessons, they were one of a kind. Amidst awesome chemistry that was apparent to the crowd and to themselves, there was nothing going on between them.

They found it strange that despite being so comfortable around each other, which had crossed the acceptable threshold of friendship, they had nothing more to offer to it. He “wanted” her so badly and so did she. That kiss that they had in the shy amber lights of the room hadn’t left them. The love bite that she had got from him still felt fresh.

Was it the love for each other, present in excess of what was necessary? Or was it the lust they had for each other that had made them live this life? They didn’t know. They didn’t want to know either. They were more engrossed in living the moment than contemplating a future.

Deep down, they had immense respect towards each other. Be it career choices, families, siblings, friendships, they respected the other’s choices wholeheartedly and embraced it like a long lost friend who bumped onto them unexpectedly. They found it difficult to explain the relationship they were in. They found it unnecessary too.

Months flew by, and they ended up in opposite corners of the world, married to somebody else and living happily, their lovely pasts lying buried in the mysterious corners of their hearts.

As fate would have it, they ended up alone. Giving one’s spouse away to the cruel hands of death had not been easy for either of them. Despite fighting all odds with a brave face, both ended up in the same country, where it had all started.

A lazy check in at the bookstore had brought in lots of memories to her. Those titles that she had badly wanted was all there, in front of her eyes, beckoning her to spend a fortune on, she kept moving along the shelves. The fire of memories that were mere memories till then, began to kindle itself again. Those sweet-nothings, that love, that respect everything made her smile and walk, in a glassy demeanour.

Finding nothing exciting, she picked up an Archie comic book and strode to the counter to check out and be done with it. She had got something now to spend some time on, apart from the book she was about to pay for. Done with the billing, she walked out, onto the drizzly street.

She walked on, step by step, relishing the feel of the cold droplets of rain touching her skin. Still with her enigmatic smile on, she saw that long forgotten silhouette, walking towards her, with an umbrella. Her heart thumped, in a manner that was too familiar. He saw her and stopped in his track. He couldn’t believe his fate. Was destiny giving him a second chance? He had to decide at that moment.

They had always been messy with words. Even though he was stumped by her eloquent wordplay and she by his casual yet appealing flirting, they had not tested the power of words in serious situations. May be that’s why they had missed that earlier chance. He didn’t want to gamble. Not at that moment. Never.

He just went up to her and held the umbrella over them, stopping the raindrops from touching and caressing her smooth skin. That was his message to the skies. She was His and He, hers.

Moving forward in perfectly synchronised steps, their silence confessed everything that they had bottled up for years. It was beautiful again.

rain

Image- Pinterest.

Omnomnom in the neighbourhood

The OMR is one of the “happening” places in Chennai. Apart from being hustley and bustley during the weekdays, courtesy, the numerous organisations that have set their centres here, in those giant glass buildings, this place is equally vibrant even in the weekends.

I must confess that I haven’t really been out in this area during the weekends before. I made an exception to that trend and shunned my famed laziness to get to what is called the OMR Food Street.

Located at a prime place, opposite to the CEEBROS Boulevard (people who have had some experience of searching for accomodation in the OMR would definitely know this place 😛 ), this is literally a small “sandhu”.  It is lined with small shops that sell food ranging from coffee and soda to Mexican and Burmese.

I stepped in, donning that not-so-famous foodie hat and took a quick look around to see what can be made of the evening.

My first stop was “TASTE”.

This place is located right next to the Wraps shop and the menu board is lined up with varieties of Paniyarams. Carrot, cheese, Egg, paneer, mushroom etc are the variants with which the Paniyarams are served. I ordered a Cheese paniyaram, all excited about what I would be getting in a plate. Equipped with quite vivid imagination, I went to heaven and back, thinking of the cheesy paniyarams when I was served with what looked like normal paniyarams sprinkled with a miserly quantity of grated cheese. That is innovation, right? The paniyarams tasted fine and so were the chutneys.

Strutting like Dora in Exploration mode, I set my eyes onto the next stop, Bits & Bytes. I scan the menu and settle for a veg roll, which was sizzling hot and served with Ketchup. The best thing about the veg roll was that it was moderately spicy and very,ummm, well cooked. Among a couple of places I have tasted veg roll, this place would be the best. I enjoyed as my taste buds thanked me for not harassing it with the usual masala overdose.

I climbed up the stairs to taste the Organic Sirudhaaniyam Village food and ended up in 200BC!

IMG_20160723_184617501

That is the name of the outlet and they specialise in using Sirudhaaniyams like millet, raagi, red rice etc in making conventional food items like pesarattu, dosas, sweet pongal etc. After bites of Thinai Sweet pongal ordered by Sindhu and Thinai Adai and aviyal from Goku , we gorged on the Ragi onion dosa from my plate. All of these were excellent and light on the tummy.

It was by then that Katie Ma’am brought some Sarbat from Zuki & Co. Yummy and pleasant, I rushed to get some for myself and quench my thirst.

My last stop was the Oasis, which turned out to be my Discovery of the Day!

Cute lil shop near the MilkyWay outlet, it was colorful and even yummy to look at. We ordered a Fruit salad with Ice cream, a jeera lime and a sweet lassi.

If you are the type who would love something to read while gorging on desserts, then this is the place. They have good stuff on their menu card that gives nice history of Chennai’s landmarks. The place is pocket friendly and is quite spacious too.

In a nutshell, OMR Food street is heaven for people who wish to have variety at a single place. You are spoilt for choices and are saved from shelling out a bomb on weekend food.

Do check their website out and also make time to visit in person, I am sure it will turn out to be a memorable foodie evening.