Zebra Crossing

We all know what a Zebra Crossing is, don’t we?

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Chennai is known for its signal junctions and busy roads. Everybody always seems to be in a hurry which is known by the incessant honking in signals, even before the lights turn green. The dilemma of how and when to cross the road has been there forever, especially when there is no signal for a long stretch of road and there are no traffic cops around to help you with it.

This post is a guide to help you accomplish the goal of crossing a busy road in the absence of traffic cops.

  1. First of all, take time out to observe the people around you. Take a note of their direction of movement. By now you should have noticed that people seem to slow down at one particular point on the side of the road. Go and stand there.
  2. Be patient till you have around 6-7 people on your side and also a similar number of people exactly opposite to you, looking to reach your side by crossing the road.
  3. Be alert to the traffic and at some point, you will feel taking the plunge.
  4. Stretch your hand, signalling the vehicles to slow down and start walking forward. Be rest assured that the others will follow suit from both the sides.

There you go, you just crossed the road without any hassles.

Standing endlessly at the Zebra crossing doesn’t work in Chennai. Join hands with your co-walkers and slay it I say!

 

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YOLO- Chennai Saga

I am back with the “slango” language and I am taking the liberty of using YOLO, which means You Only Live Once. 

This is a pensive post, which in a way describes my life in Chennai since 2010. It is going to be a short narrative, which apparently has to be done. Also, I racked my brains for a while to get some topic for the letter ‘Y’ and fell flat on my face. Moving on…

Life in Chennai can be endearing and be intimidating at the same time. Newbies tend to get overwhelmed the moment they step onto the platform in Chennai Central. I do not blame them for one. It is nothing but fair to feel so. It so happens that most major metro cities have their railway and bus terminus crowded and noisy. Chennai is not an exception.

My life in Chennai has seen a lot of flavours. From being a rigid nerd to being a not-so-rigid nerd, I have seen a lot. A gentle word of warning though. What I have seen is only a teeny tiny portion of what Chennai has to offer.

It is said that staying in a big city, away from parents and relatives teaches a lot. Yes, it does. It transforms a person in many ways. But when that ‘Fish out of water’ feeling is accompanied by warm people around, the entire journey becomes easy.

Who knows where I shall live the rest of my life. Who knows what life has in store for me. Chennai shall be the best phase of my life, forever. It shall always occupy a special place in me.

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Xtra Silra

The blog prompt for this comes from my ever vibrant friend Buroos who lives and breathes Chennai.

Many cities have their own rules, which might even indicate borderline OCD and obsession. Chennai is no exception to that trait. From “Avoid Rajnikanth and Oh Bangalore so great” to ” CSK is supreme”, Chennai city has its own quirks that are too weird at times. One such quirky trait is the mandate of carrying coins in your wallet, when travelling by bus. MTC buses have this unwritten rule. Deboard if you don’t have exact change for the amount of ticket. I know you are gonna rip me apart asking what if one does not know the ticket fare. I counter it by saying “Always carry coins worth twenty rupees in your wallet”. 

coins-in-pile-1-DHDPeak hours, slow moving traffic and nasty passengers can make any conductor cranky and Chennai conductors super-cranky. Not to drag in the almost always “under maintenance roads”. So one just cannot help but feel sorry for them.

So to ease the situation for all of us who travel with you in the bus, carry some change with you and see the conductor be happy about it. In return, you might be blessed with some awesome, witty quips from the conductor which guarantees you wholesome entertainment for the duration of your journey.

 

We, The People of Chennai

This post is a memory. A very precious one, which would find place as a seperate chapter in my autobiography, if I ever write one that is.

I realised “We” for the first time, when my beloved city was being pounded by rains, in November- December 2015. It was a daunting time for all of us and what are the odds for a person to come and stay in Chennai from a safer place exactly two days before the fateful December 1, 2015. That was the day when Chennai had the final nail on its coffin. Or it did seem so.

Tales of despair came in from everywhere. Many parts of the city were submerged in the water that had overflown from the lakes and reservoirs. The city itself was cut off from the rest of the country, with relief materials pouring in from everywhere.

We really saw what nature could do, when pushed to its nasty extremes.

You know how it feels when the place you have lived and loved all through your life gets submerged in water? It is inexplicable.

I have never heard or been in such a situation in Chennai before this. It has been raining for the past 24+ hours non-stop and Chennai is completely isolated from other parts of the State. All the entry and exit points have been cut-off and the rail and air terminus have been shut down. Trains and flights have been cancelled and the only mode of transportation that is still plying is the bus. That is unreliable and dangerous too,given the circumstances.

We have the Indian Army deployed here for the relief work and the forecast for two more days from today looks grim. Houses in the ground and first floors are flooded and people have taken shelter in high rises.

The magical part of all these is that We are still alive and thriving.

Chennai twitter is abuzz with help pouring in,not from anywhere else, from the Chennaiites itself. More than 3000 people have opened up their homes, hotels,offices etc to provide shelter to those who are stranded. Many people have come forward to recharge the phones with a small amount so that they can get in touch with their families and loved ones and assure them about their safety. Scores of people have offered to cook a meal for the needy and services of picking those meals are underway. Several Star hotels have prepared food packets for the people and are looking for help to distribute it to those in need. Malls and cinema theatres have been magnanimous enough to offer to accomodate people for free.
So yes, we are alive and surviving.

It is a very tough situation in Chennai right now. This is the second spell of rains lashing the city in less than a month’s time and trust me we are struggling. But, we are also helping and reaching out to people in whatever small ways that we can. I have heard and seen pictures of common people giving packets of biscuits and other eatables to the Traffic cops and the Bus drivers who are working their asses off to ensure that the people are safe.

Sadly, we had to put in lots of efforts to inform our counterparts in the other parts of the country through media like Facebook and Twitter since, well, the National Media has other important things to cover and publicise, like the Sheena Bora Murder case and How Rahul Gandhi had the nerves to speak in The Parliament.

We have observed the spirit of Brother-hood from the Mumbaikars in similar situations and I am so proud to say that we are implementing that darn well too.

We are gonna survive this and come back stronger than ever. We are waiting for the rains to subside a little so that we could be back on track at the earliest.

Thanks Karthika Krishnakumar for the mention in your answer. That brought me to this question.

Thanks a lot OP, for the concern. I would suggest you to help in any small way you can, which would include sharing any post in any social media that asks for help or gives information about helpline numbers and other facilities. Your one small act could be a life saving ray of hope for someone here.

Thanks a lot again.

This was me, on December 2nd, doing whatever I can to help people connect.

More such experiences can be read in this Quora thread.

We feel proud that the barriers were broken.

Actors, Singers, Employees, Home-makers, Entrepreneurs etc came together as a family to throw open their homes to strangers in need. Malls and multiplexes did their part in accomodating people who had lost their homes to water. Chennai woke up, from its seemingly deep slumber.

A city, which might have come across as indifferent and a tad too selfish, broke its image and took to the streets. Thousands of food packets were made and packed, rehab work went on full swing and life slowly returned back to normal.

Man-made barriers were destroyed by nature, which made us destroy the barriers that we had constructed among ourselves. 

Image Source- Tehelka

Vanakkam Chennai!

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Imma Chennai City Gangsta!! 😛

Before you guys think I am crazy enough to say this, let me say I am. Chennai means that much to me. Besides having a bazillion memes that glorify Chennai and its people ( Chennai is a name, Madras is an emotion!!), this city is a pleasure to live in, except for Bangaloreans of course! *wink wink*

Now as a person who has lived in Chennai for about seven years now, let me give some tips for people who are looking to travel to the city and experience the emotion.

  • The best time to travel to Chennai would be October-November every year. We have our Decembers jinxed so far and hence I am not betting on that. However, you are welcome to join us in the mayhem and we assure you the best of our support in case you get stuck somewhere in the chaos.
  • It is wise to depend on cab services like Ola or Uber, in case you plan to use public transport extensively. For certain routes, I would also suggest Volvo city buses which are comfortable and good.
  • Do your research before you book hotels. We do have a big community who rent their places out to tourists seasonally.
  • Do not be apprehensive to try out local cuisine. There is no ‘Delhi Belly’ scare and you can go ahead and experiment all you want to.
  • Always carry water and towel with you. Its generally humid and hence you might need them to provide comfort.
  • Approach people when you feel uncomfortable. People are friendly and would definitely help you out. Do not be laid back in seeking help.
  • Enjoy the city in all its glory. The beaches, the temples, the jasmine flowers, the aromatic biryani and street food etc. Plan atleast 3-4 days so that you can get the best of all the above.

Chennai is a tourist friendly place and I swear you would not regret choosing to visit.

Ulaga Nayakan

When one can go and write about the style factor, one should also write about the talent factor. That is what fairplay teaches us. Who else can fit into the tag of ‘Ulaga Nayakan’ better than Padmashri Kamal Hassan?

Born in the southern town of Paramakudi, Kamal Hassan has been around, in the filmdom, since one can remember. The earliest memory of seeing Kamal Hassan in movies in like the one in the image below, probably a tad younger too.

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He has been acting for a very long while now and trust me when I say that he is one actor who would fit in to any role given to him with elan and do his homework meticulously. Also, he is one actor who doesn’t bother about his leading ladies much. Remember Kovai Sarala in Sathi Leelavathy?

Personally I have a few movies of him that are close to my heart. Sathi Leelavathy, Anbe Sivam, Panchathanthiram, Vasool Raja MBBS etc to name a few. These movies make my day, every time I watch them and are worth every minute I spend watching them.

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He is one actor who is unabashedly himself in real life and is multi talented. He can write poetry and screenplays, debate and sing with equal mastery, just as acting. Many of his movies have not been commercially successful when they were released, but went on to become cult movies later on.

While people fell for the Superstar for his charm and style, Ulaganayakan ensnared people with his sheer talent and superfine acting. He is probably the only actor now, who effortlessly can be called as an ‘actor’.

Do watch his movies to catch various faces of Ulaganayakan. 

 

Tea Kadai Bench

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Tea Kadai Bench indicates the benches put outside the tea shops in South India. In this part of the country, this is not just a mere aspect of timepass. It is much more than that.

Tea kadai benches are the places were the menfolk in the rural areas catch up with the latest news and events. A place that transcends the man-made boundaries that are religion, caste and sometimes socio-economic status. It is the male equivalent of the gossip sessions that women indulge in, during the afternoon.

Often, one might wonder how the shop keeper allows so many people to block the space that he has made exclusively for his customers in such endless banter. Be rest assured that, in most such occasions, the shop keeper would also enjoy the chatter and would be happy to chip in new information or his take on the topic that is being discussed.

Though the advent of cities has made this ritual vanish, there are still places in suburbs and villages, where this is probably the only source of entertainment to the people who live there.

Afterall, what goes better with hot news other than a hotter cup of chai, right?? 😉

Image Credits- The featured image is a lovely one I found while browsing, which was featured in the newspaper The Hindu.

Sowcarpettai

This post has been written by a good friend Kishor.  He is a story teller and a very talented person who has an inclination towards comedy and movies.  His posts can be read at Blind Man’s Bluff and you can check his videos out at “Moving Images” on YouTube. 

Sowcarpettai – First thing that comes to mind is “Saroja, samaan nikaalo”. But this place has a rich history and is a very distinct neighborhood. Sowcarpettai or Sowcarpet has a huge Marwari population. 

I moved from Chennai to Cuddalore during my high school days and one thing that Cuddalore has in common with Sowcarpet is the Marwari population. Cuddalore is home to many migrants from Rajasthan and Gujarat and they share links with the people from Sowcarpet. 
The street is a time capsule, as nothing drastic has changed in this area for decades now. We all know the wholesale and money lending shops that decorate Sowcarpet, but Sowcarpet also preserves one the oldest identity of “Madras” – Rickshaws. Once upon a time, these 3-wheeled wonders were the identity of Madras. With a rich history, rickshawalas were essential to everyday lives of Madras-vaasis as much as the milkmen and paperboys. So much so that they were portrayed by the one and only MGR in his movie. Losing their business to autos, the once hundreds in number rickshaws have dwindled down to about one hundred now and they all predominantly run in Sowcarpet. Thanks to the continued patronage of the Marwaris in Sowcarpet, the tell-tale three wheels still turn. 

Sowcarpet is close to Parrys Corner and the Central Station. Try the lassi while you are there and holi is the best time here to authentically drench in vivid colors.

If you are in the mood for a quick trip to the North of India, just catch any bus to Parrys Corner and you should reach your own personal Rajasthan.

Sowcarpet is also the best place to taste chaats and North Indian sweets.  You can also shop till you drop there and find amazing tailors nearby.  

The beautiful images found here are by a fellow blogger, Srivatsan, whose stories can be found here. 

Rajnikanth

This post is about the one and only thalaivar (leader) for the film crazy population down south, Rajnikanth.  

Born as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, thalaivar hails from humble backgrounds.  His rags-to-riches story is very similar to many of his onscreen avatars.  He brought in a distinct style into the Tamil filmdom, which till date is revered and adored by millions out there. 
Well known for his swag, Rajnikanth is said to be a very spiritual person.  His annual trip to the silent peaks and valleys of the Himalayas is a well known secret and he is unperturbed to stand by his religion.  

His movies tend to be a tad unrealistic given the ground reality, usually with big budgets and huge expectations.  His fan- following that would easily run to millions, go to crazy levels to show their adoration to their beloved superstar.  Every now and then people wait to know his political stance, which seems to be a well guarded secret.  

He rose to Superstardom by playing normal characters that one would meet in their daily lives.  His characters had such a connect with the masses that the people lifted him up to place on a pedestal and worship him as the one and only THALAIVAR.  

His fame can be understood by the fact that Bollywood had a song dedicated to him, he is synonymous with the word Madras, and well, Google throws out his pictures when I look up the term ‘Thalaivar’. 

Truly swag!! 

Quarter Bottle

Good news or bad news, the one thing that remains a constant in the variable equation that is life, is the Quarter Bottle, a.k.a alcohol.  

Tamilnadu has its alcohol market regulated in a weird way.  The liquor in the state is supplied by TASMAC, which is a state owned enterprise.  The bars and retail shops are all owned by this enterprise.  This is a major source of revenue for the state exchequer actually.  

So in recent days, there has been lot of noise regarding the prohibition of alcohol because it seems only now that people are waking up to the bane of liquor shops in their locality.  The menace of drunk and drive isn’t going down anytime soon either.  

So the Honorable Supreme Court ruled that there shall be no sale of alcohol within 500 metres from any of the highways.  This might be a blanket move, no doubts about it.  

But our own people, renowned world wide for the quick fixes they invent, have begun the process of ‘denotifying’ the roads, which is essentially downgrading a road from one level to a level below that in terms of control and compliance.  

Also, Tamilnadu has the culture of wooing voters with alcohol and food.  Quarter and Kozhi biryani, they say.  These form an inevitable part of the campaign culture here and it’s nothing but the sad truth.  

This post is a part of the A to Z challenge