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.

madras

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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

Half-Way Mark- Update

It has been quite an experience blogging my way through the A to Z Challenge

Thinking about topics, checking if the topic would be fine to be written about, the reception among the readers, the new friends, reading my fellow bloggers’ posts etc have been amazing so far. It is making me a better person and I hope to stay on course till the end.

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Today is Day 13, which also marks the midway through this journey. My course so far, has been documented below. Click the links to read about the topics.

A- Auto Rickshaw

B- Biryani

C- Central

D- Dabba Chetty Kadai

E- Egmore Museum

F- Fort and FDFS

G-Gilma

H-Hot, Hotter, Hottest

I-Idli

J- Jam Bazaar (Guest Post)

K- Kabali and Kaapi

L- Light House

M- Margazhi

It has been great so far. 🙂

Fort and FDFS

The two terms in the title are not connected.  Fort here refers to the St. George’s fort and FDFS refers to the tradition of ‘First Day, First Show’ in the realm of movies.  

St. George’s Fort

This iconic structure can be claimed as the Father of Chennai.  Once upon a time, the English built this fort on an uninhabited land.  The small town of Madras developed around this building, which aided trade and commerce.  

373 years and still going strong, this building now is the seat of the Legislative Assembly of Tamilnadu.  It houses various other departments of the Government. The flag mast of St. George’s Fort is among the tallest in the country at 150 feet.  

Chennai is charming in its own ways.  I love it due to its quaint buildings and a rich history behind the names of many buildings and roads.  

FDFS

Ah! This is a special tradition that every movie buff would want to experience.  A FDFS of their favorite star’s movie.  

Tamil Nadu has historically been a very movie oriented region.  We have had movie stars as Chief ministers and movies have sown seeds of inspiration to many out there.  

The FDFS culture is prominent here owing to this culture. The culture of viewing movie stars as larger-than-life figures.  

The sight in front of any prominent theatre in Chennai is something to behold, on the day of release of the movie.  We would have unprecedented crowd, traffic snarls and if luck favors, we could even catch glimpse of a fan or two dunking gallons of milk over a hoarding of the movie star.  All of this in a day! 

Chennai has several cinema halls that have a rich history.  Albert theatre, Kasi theatre, Woodlands, Devi complex, Udayam, Satyam theatre ( before it became SPI cinemas) have all stood the test of time and have succeeded in reinventing themselves to keep up with the technological progress in the movie screening process.  

With movie tickets costing only Rs.120/- at the maximum (yes, it is an upper slab foxed by the government)  what more could a movie buff ask for?? Be sure to catch a movie the next time you are in Chennai.  The experience is worth every paisa.  

This post is a part of the A to Z challenge

A Rude Wake-up Call

It has been six full months after the city of Chennai was ravaged by floods. Extensive loss of men and material resulted in rebirth of what people would call “humanity” and “brotherhood” and what-not. Media had a field day in replaying their stock shots repetitively that it seemed they were making up for their conspicious absence for a long time after Chennai choked. Of course, neither did we have a RaGa here nor did we have a glitzy high profile” Mother murders Daughter” saga going on.We did resist and did what we could to the best of our efforts.

We learnt how to join hands. We learnt to appreciate the bus driver annas and the traffic cops who were doing a fabulous job. I am sure many others would vouch for my words when I say that Chennai was reborn. With pride and compassion in equal amounts. However, I would like to bring in some 3-4 shades of grey into the picture. Pardon me if I hurt your sentiments, for it is always bitter to listen to truth.

While Chennai, the jewel of Tamilnadu was being the attention seeking brat that most stinking-rich uber cool dudes would be, there was a place called Cuddalore which was equally affected. It was that poor lil step-sister of our brat and conveniently forgotten when compared to the attention that Chennai got.

While we spoke like a million loud words about how Chennai people were unfortunate, we missed the point of greed. There is something called City Limits, City planning, water bodies specific areas etc. Nobody cared. All wanted a house even in the shabbiest and ridiculous-est ( that is how furious I am) areas, naming it as Lake-view, marsh-view and many other such preposterous views. People were dumb and greedy. Dumb such that they couldn’t really identify the land on which the brick was laid, in the name of construction, and greedy for all that people cared about was that fistful of sand. Serves them right, I would say.

While one portion of the city was recovering slowly, there was another portion that got to breathe freely, without suffocation. That was the Cooum river. Legends have been written about this waterway that I, as a person in mid-twenties, think of the possibility of such legendary history with a tinge of doubt. I saw the river clean, without a floating trace of filth to constrict its wind pipe. I felt happy. Crores lay written in papers, claiming to have been spent on de-silting and stuff like that. It was time that Nature took things in her/his own hands and did the needful.

While many, many people were out on the streets helping the needy and preparing food for them, fresh and hygenic, there were groups of people who had the audacity to throw the packets onto the streets, for want of variety. If this is not vanity, then what is? When people don’t realise their fortune and good luck, any number of samaritans won’t be enough to save them. I would rather see them starve to death instead of wasting food on them. I would rather feed a child who understands the value of food and who is able to count his blessings than to attempt to feed those brainless retards who wanted variety in food.

Chennai floods brought out the best in people. It also brought to light certain blunt truths, which were apparently dancing butt-naked in front of our eyes. We were just too deluded to even try and see the truth in them.

*Written as a part of a contest conducted by Chennai Bloggers Club*

* It is not always that we get to own a book co-authored by a bunch of people who were there, doing it. Grab your own copy here *

*Please do read the book and rate and review it right here. The authors would love it and would be motivated to give more*

*For more such content, to make you laugh, cry, love and live, do visit our home*

 

 

 

Beyond words

Being left to live alone creates a big impact on one’s own thoughts and values. The alone time gives the ambiance to revisit all those wonderful times one would have spent with her family. It teaches the value of a person in one’s life and also brings our attention to all those small gestures that go a long way in making or breaking a relationship.

I grew up in a very loving and close knit nuclear family. I have been staying outside home for about 8 years now and I remember myself going through a plethora of emotions all these years. Happy, sad, restless, confused, annoyed, jubilant etc, you name it I swear I have had it. The new-found freedom from parents’ watch and the new people around made me go crazy. I am not ashamed to say that I have had my own pitfalls and may-be a lot more “close-shaves” . I have learnt to take care of myself quite well.

It was during one of my Coffee-influenced-evening-musings that I started reminiscing about all those beautiful days. I still remember many of my fights and disagreements with both my parents- individually and also together. I remember many small loving gestures that were generously sprinkled all along my days with them. Those lovely signs continue till day.

It has been our family tradition to have dinner together. All four of us, no compromises there unless Appa is travelling somewhere. Otherwise, be it my exams, my brother’s tantrums, my Amma’s fatigue, dinnertime was always family time. Some how that has become a habit for us. We wait till all of us arrive from wherever they are held up. We don’t really care about how hot the food is or if the food is leftovers from the afternoon’s lunch. All that we care about is that together we eat. Period.

Similarly, Appa and Amma make it a point to have their morning coffee together. It has been 25 years that they are married now and not once in my memory have I seen them have their coffees alone. Amma loves Jasmine flowers and Appa still buys a Mozham of Malli poo everyday for her. This also has been happening since I can remember. I mean, these are all small things, to be honest. But these go a long way in conveying messages than words will ever do.

From the time I was a baby, I always gave the first bite of any delicacy or eatable/beverage that I laid my hands on, to Appa. This came out from the fact that I had no sibling then to share anything and Amma and Appa were particular that I be inculcated with the habit of sharing things with others first. This habit continues till date. If I am home and I get something to eat/drink, I give the first bite to Appa ( not Amma, which I still don’t know why).I am 24, for God’s sake, but I adore that look in his face when I do this. Appas are the real babies in this world, you know. They are just too cute.

When I visit home, I used to take the Vaigai Express from Chennai which reaches Madurai at around 9 PM. We then have dinner together and Amma and I would sit for our chit-chat which goes on until 1 AM. She is a working woman and she has had a long day by then, but still she sits with to talk about the most boring stuff ever or some random jibber-jabber that I am well-known for.

Sitting alone in a huge flat, with nobody to care about you makes a person realize the importance of all these small things. It makes me realize how blessed I am and sets a higher benchmark for me to make up to when I get my own family and all.

Many a times we think materials bring happiness. Nope. We could not be more wrong or more shallow. A word of appreciation, a token of love and mere presence is what gives true happiness.

Where the heart is content, nothing seems impossible.

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Happy 25!!!!!

Love is not about meeting the right person. It is about being with that person till the very end.

Have I been in love? May be. Have I seen people who are in love? A much more sure type of “May be”. Have I seen people who stay with that person because of love? Yes. A resounding yes. Those “people” would be my parents. To think and realise that they celebrate their silver jubilee anniversary this year is amazing.

I have seen them both at their best and also at their worst. I have seen them squabble and make me hate the entire universe, and I have also had my own share of “Awwww” moments seeing them together. It is that love and commitment that makes up for all those slight imperfections. I learn from them every day. Every moment with them is a life lesson for me.

Marriage is not about the glitz and glamour that comes with it. It is about the life after that as a couple. It is not easy to keep holding hands even when one’s world is falling apart. Marriage makes us do that, precisely.

To quote one of my favourite character from a TV show,

“In my life, if I am half happy as you guys are in your marriage, I will consider myself lucky”.

Yes, Appa and Amma, you may not be the perfect couple for the world, but then you are perfect for each other and that’s what matters more.

Happy Happy Wedding anniversary to you both and We all wish you guys hit a half century soon 😉

I feel so overwhelmed that it is hard to get words out of me right now. So you know what I did? I tried taking some of your pictures and also get a few people to talk of you both. I hope you are surprised enough!

 

 

 

Arjun Comment

 

A few pictures for you to reminisce about the years you both have held each other 🙂

 

 

Love you loads 🙂

 

The Musical Enlightenment with Mr.Sanjay Subramaniam

The Hindu LitFest 2016 gave me an unforgettable opportunity to listen to literary geniuses talk and discuss about things that had had a huge impact on them, the issues that, in their view would go on to bring in a magnificent shift in the general structure of acceptance and non-acceptance etc.

The first session that I attended was titled “Sing My Song” which had the renowned Carnatic Music exponent, Mr.Sanjay Subramaniam in conversation with Ms. Nirmala Lakshmanan.

I have always had great regard on Mr.Sanjay Subramaniam and Ms. Vishaka Hari because I know them to be Chartered Accountants who had the drive to pursue what they loved and to break the stereotypes of being auditors and the hype surrounding it. (I know the hype and also the respect it commands in the society because I am one of them)

Starting off with talking about being awarded the “Sangeetha Kalanidhi” award, he spoke about the massive personal responsibility that has been served upon him. Of course that did not mean that he had altered his journey or destination based on the award. He was careful about not letting the influence of the award and the recognition that it brought to interfere in his already pursuing path of music.

     “Restriction breeds Creativity”

That was one of the prime take-aways that I had got from this session apart from the humour and cricket that was generously sprinkled. I found this statement from him to be very true and honest. In most of the cases, where there is restriction there will be rebellion. Most of the times such rebellion creates history. May be it is something to do with the human mind which is known to be complex and intricate. The mind is thirsty when it is deprived of something. The “yekkam” they say, is boundless during such situations. I have felt that personally and could relate to that statement in a more intimate fashion.

On the way the traditional carnatic music format is evolving, he says,” Art is never static” and that all art forms go through a phase of turbulence. Art is supposed to give rise to different feelings and opinions to different people. It is not science to be perceived in the same manner by everyone. True words, Sir!

An artist derives energy from his audience. That is a hundred percent true. An artist must be true to himself. He must be daring enough to take risks in his performance and to attempt improvisation.  He must be ready to accept and must be open minded enough to experiment and explore the hidden realms of the art that he fervently and reverently practices.

Also apart from the little thoughts on the Vivaadhi Concept, the prominence of Tamil Keerthanams in his concerts, the impiortance of the rapport with the accompanists and also about the general dilemma of the superiority of the Guru-Shishya mode of imparting musical education over the now-prevalent trend of Skype Classes, the one thing that made me admire him was his acceptance.

When one member from the audience asked if he has done anything at all to spread and increase the reach of carnatic music on a grassroot level (What the question-asker intended to know was if SS was going to schools and doing anything tangible to increase the awareness of carnatic music), SS was gracious and grounded enough to accept that he hasn’t done anything of that sort. I admired that quality in him. Instead of beating around the bush saying superficial things or adopting to shame the person who had asked such a question to him on a public platform, SS accepted it. It kind of felt that it all boiled down to one’s own choices and one need not try so hard to fit in to another’s definition of something. It implied, albeit silently, that one can be original and be unapologetic about it. In my words, to one his own.

I enjoyed the session mainly because of the energy that it gave me and also for the core ideas that I had in me when I walked out of the auditorium. A very good start to an awesome feast, I would say.

Rocking at the Rock cut temples- Mahabalipuram

Five years in Namma Madras and Me not having visited Mahabalipuram was a shame not just for me, but for my entire extended clan. I know that it was unjustified but then better late than never, right? So yes, my friends and I set out on a trip to Mahabs on a chilly Sunday morning.

Mahabalipuram is a coastal town near Chennai which is known for its Rock cut temples and sea shore. It was an ancient port town which was the port of contact for trade connections with South East Asia. It has exemplary historical identities that were carved during the Pallava Rule.

I have been to Mahabs before but that was a trip to a resort there and not to any of the tourist spots that were famous. So this time around I was determined to visit the maximum places and have my own kinda fun.

So we guys had breakfast in a restaurant in Uthandi and sped away to Mahabs. About 30 minutes of drive later there we were!! A bustling town that rakes in revenue in the form of tourism. I had always thought that this place was overrated by people, but then how would I know that I would be proved wrong like this?

Our first stop was the Shore Temple. It was a lovely place and my favourite of all the places that we had visited in the town. It was a temple on the sea shore and was picturesque. The area around the temple was neatly laid out and designed and was a very pleasing sight for the eyes that were sore of the city way of life.

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Our next stop was the Five Rathas. These are structures that resembled Chariots and were actually carved out of a single stone. These are named after the Pancha Pandavas ( Dharma, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva ) and Draupadi of the Mahabharatha. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and rightly so. The way these structures stand today is a testimony to architectural marvel of those days.

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There was also a Sea shell museum and an Aquarium there. Man! I totally loved the sea shell museum. It is said to be the personal collection of one person and it was damn lovely. The guide who was in charge of the sea shells was amazing and patient enough in explaining the speciality of few of the collections kept there. ( Watch out for Breath Mary while you are at it, peepals) .

We then broke for lunch and loitered around for a while there in the lawns adjacent to the Varaha Cave and Arjuna’s penance.

Arjuna’s penance was our next destination. This place is said to be the place where Arjuna receives the Pasupatastra from Lord Shiva and also where Ganga falls on to Lord Shiva’s head and flows. This place has very intricate carvings and are very much descriptive of the mythological event.

 

We then proceeded to the Maritime museum and another archaeological artefact museum which were very much interesting to check out. People who dig maritime stuff and related old time tech will absolutely adore the place.

Light house was the penultimate stop for us and that was so crowded for we had reached there at the perfect time. The view from atop the huge structure was breathtaking and we could catch a glimpse of the IGCAR also.

 

Will a trip to Mahabalipuram be complete without a beach visit? Never! So off we went to the Beach and had the customary Feet-wetting ceremony in the cold waters of the Bay of Bengal. That was it. That did tire me out after about 6 odd hours of total enthusiasm. All that I remember now after that point was that somehow I managed to get back to my place and am typing this post about the memories that I had managed to make during the day.

Mahabalipuram is well connected and pretty famous in the Coromandel coast guys. Worth a visit if you dig historical places. (Oops! Pun)

Will I dare another visit? Ohhhhhh Yesssssss!!!!! 🙂 🙂

Remembering Dhanushkodi-The Ghost Town

While it has been a desire for my family to visit Dhanushkodi everytime we visit Rameshwaram, it so happened that I beat them to it and get a chance to go there. It was one of our perennial outstation work and being stuck up in the dry district of Ramnad, it was on one scorching afternoon that we decided to head to the Ghost town of Dhanushkodi.

Rameshwaram , I have always loved for the beauty of Pamban and also for the incredible Engineering marvel that is the Cantilever Rail Bridge. Dhanushkodi had intrigued me since long. I had read about the history of the place and was waiting for a chance to visit and I got my chance, Thanks to an Audit Assignment.

So we, my friend and I set off on a jeep to Dhanushkodi (Jeeps are the only mode of transport to and from Dhanushkodi)late in the afternoon. It was a bumpy ride, literally, because the path was marshy and uneven. The scenery caught my eyes first. I went all “WOAH!!” The sand was all white and the landscape was barren. Not one tree around and rare sight of bushes and grass.

It felt surreal. I really felt a rush of feelings, some happy that it was probably the most silent and peaceful place I have ever been to and some of utter despair because this was one place that was bustling one night and was completely doomed the next morning without a trace of live. It made me all philosophical thinking how short and fickle life is. I made a mental note to tell all my dear ones that I LOVE THEM, coz nobody knows if I might me alive the next day.

And so, we roamed around , went and stood in the beach. That was a beautiful moment to spot the confluence of Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal to my left. Indian Ocean was rough and the Bay was calm and to see both extremes rushing onto each other made me smile. The sea was of a brilliant shade of blue , soothing.

We also saw the ruined remnants of the Church and a rail track that had the ill-fated Boat mail once upon a time.

Apparently this is a Ghost town which was ruined by the Cyclonic storm in 1964. The storm was so bad that it triggered a tsunami and wiped off the entire town , overnight. The only form of human beings that one can see there is the people who sell fish for a living . Even they wind up and return back to their homes in the mainland by 5.30 PM.

The trip was worth the wait and I wish I had thought about this then, I don’t have any more pictures. Sorry people, now I have started documenting in a much better way. The picture attached in here is the view of the sea from Pamban and not Dhanushkodi. Again, Apologies! 🙂

So try Dhanushkodi guys! Worth your time and a perfect place to contemplate and realise how small we are in this whole wide universe.