Pondy Bazaar

Any festival in Chennai is incomplete without a trip to the shopping haven that is Pondy Bazaar.  

Originally called ‘Soundarapandiyanaar Angaadi’, this got anglicised like many other things in Chennai.  Pondy bazaar is the place where you can go with a thousand rupees and still rake in the moolah for that money.  

The place used to be lined with shops on the pavements on either sides of the road till a few years back.  Latest fashion jewellery and clothing, bags, shoes, books and other goods used to be sold here.  Now all those shops have been moved to a multistoreyed building on one of the sides of the road.  

This place also has a lot of branded shops and many small outlets that sell tasty sweet corn kernels and ice creams.  
Pro tip-

1. Check out the sweet corn with a dash of butter and pepper. 

2. Bargaining is the key.  Don’t feel bad, because the prices would normally be factored in for the bargain.  

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Oh Emm Aar!! 

That’s how OMR is pronounced.  

OMR (Old Mahabalipuram Road) or the Rajiv Gandhi Salai, is one of the most happening places in Chennai.  

Also perceived to be a youngsters haven, this road stretches from the MadhyaKailash junction to Mahabalipuram.  This was an arterial Road that once connected the small town of Mahabalipuram to Chennai.  The East Coast Road later stole the thunder of the OMR.  

This road is an expressway, which was planned and developed with the sole intention of giving a boost to the IT/ITES industry in the city.  Hence this road is also known as the IT expressway.  
Dotted with IT companies on both sides and also numerous SEZ parks and zones promoted by the State Government, this region is famous for its cosmopolitan demography.  

Themed restaurants, food streets,  branded clothing outlets and everything else find place here making this region self sufficient.  

Housing prices in this region are famed to bring heart attacks to people and so does the traffic.  Just try saying that you have crossed the SRP and the TIDEL signal, when you go into the city and meet your friends, be sure that they have a new found respect for you.  For that’s OMR for you.  

Nirbhaya and Nightlife

Well, One of the most remarkable feature of Chennai as a city is that it is safer than many other metro cities.  

With decent connectivity and helpful people, it is easy to survive in Chennai. When incidents of harassment and rapes were haunting the country’s capital, Chennai stood strong with its record of claiming to be safe by the residents.  

This can be owed to multiple factors although a major one would be it’s relatively conservative fabric.  

This conservative nature can also be a reason for the city’s not so enviable nightlife.  

People from Bangalore always have this against Chennai.  The nightlife here sucks. With a handful of pubs and nightclubs, that too mostly concentrated among the 5 Star hotels of the city, Chennai is one city that most probably sleeps at night.  

The recent directive of the Government related to bars and alcohol has only made things worse to the pub – hopping scene in the city.  

By the way, nights are for sleeping, aren’t they?? 😉 

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.

keep-calm-were-halfway-there

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. 🙂

Margazhi

Madras or Chennai, is incomplete without the famed “Margazhi” festival.

images

Margazhi is a tamil month which falls roughly between the 15th of December and 14th of January. This month is famous for Fine arts, in Chennai. Numerous sabhas organise concerts and programmes classical dance and music. It is a month filled with music and dance all around.

Every December, the early morning air is filled with the tunes of the hymns of Thiruppavai and Thiruvembavai. Later that day, one gets to devour the divinity that is classical music and dance. This is also the month when the car porches are decorated with the most colourful of kolams (Rangoli). 

Listen to a Thiruppavai here.

One would be surprised to know that these concerts and programmes happen all through the day. Almost all the sabhas in the city have their own line ups and schedules and it is considered a privilege to be able to perform in one of those slots. We have Rasikas (enthusiasts) from all over the world, who throng Chennai just to be a part of this extravaganza.

Apart from getting to listen to the best of artistes, this season is also for tasting the best of South Indian food in these Sabhas. Each sabha has its own list of food items that are famous and they have their own set of patronage, who stand by them no matter what.

Chennai also has its own set of people who let their houses and free rooms in their homes for rent to accomodate these tourists. They provide the best of hospitality and convenience to the visitors, who also get to experience the Touch of Madras. 

Mid December to Mid January is the best time to visit Chennai and I swear you will not regret it.

Have you booked your tickets yet? 😉

Light House

L is for Life and Love, which is abundant in Chennai. Next in list comes the Light house.

lighthouse

Located in the end of the Promenade on the Marina beach, this Light house is an icon in the city’s landscape. It is one of those lighthouses that are well within the city limits.

This lighthouse has a rich history. The building that stands tall today, is the fourth structure that was built to serve as the light house, to guide the ships to the shore safely. It is a proud symbol of the Maritime history of Chennai and also of our country.

This lighthouse here was thrown open to the public a few years back and since then it has been a great spot for some nice sea breeze and some kickass views. It also marks the beginning of what we call “Gandhi Statue Beach”, which extends way past Santhome.

The location is prime and is served well by buses and MRTS train service. It also has some coffee shops and a mall in its vicinity.

Pro Tip- Head to the lighthouse at around 3.30 in the evening, enjoy the breeze and the views. Head to the beach post that and have some nice street food , sitting on the sand. Best when tried on a full moon day. 🙂 

Kabali and Kaapi

Two topics that are very close to my heart. Kabali refers to Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore, Chennai and Kaapi is, of course, our own filter coffee.  

Mylai Kapaleeswarar temple is a temple build for Lord Shiva.  Legend says that this temple is equivalent to Mount Kailash among many other interesting stories.  

Located in Mylapore, the temple is a landmark of the city.  This is one of my favorite temples, mainly due to the ventilation inside the complex and the peace one gets to feel when inside the complex.  
There is always some program or concert happening inside the temple premises and trust me you could find many celebrities walk around here.  The Arubathumoovar is the main festival of the temple, which is all about the 63 nayanmars who sang in praise of Lord Shiva.  It is during this festival that one can aptly take a food walk in the streets around the temple.  It’s worth the effort taken to navigate the crowd.  

This festival happens between 15th of March and 15th of April every year.  

Also, the Puliodharai (tamarind rice) available inside the temple is extremely tasty and a ‘must’ in the bucket list of every foodie.  

What is a trip down south, without a cup of Kaapi?? 

Kaapi or Filter coffee is the famous brew of coffee prominent in the Southern part of the peninsula.  If brewed in the right way, this coffee has the perfect blend of heat, taste, colour, consistency and aroma.  

From my personal experience, I would say that there is a particular way by which the coffee must be brewed to get that cup of perfection.  There is also a lot of detail that goes into the powder that we use to make that perfect cuppa.  

I can go on and on when it comes to coffee, but I should stop right here because my cuppa Kaapi is waiting for me in my kitchen.  
So two things that must not be missed when on a trip to South India- Kabali and Kaapi.  

Kapaleeswarar temple is accessible from all major transit points in the City- The airport, railway station and the bus terminus.  Just ask around or drop in a text, I would be happy to guide you.  Bonus points would be restaurants suggestions in and around Mylapore.  

This post is a part of the A to Z challenge 

Jam Bazaar

This is a guest post by my close friend Raji

I was asked to do a post on J by Megha. I was a bit clueless. Ofcourse the first J word related to Chennai that came to my mind was Jaam Bajaar (Actually spelled as Zam Bazaar) Even a few of my friends suggested that word. It is something all Chennaiites and 90s kids would know I suppose. 

Of all the 20+ years I have spent in Chennai I have never set foot on the said bazaar. I even thought that such a place does not exist. So what is this Jaam Bazaar I am talking about? 

It is a song. A song that was sang in the beautiful Chennai tamizh. Something so iconic that even if we don’t know the movie or even most of the lyrics we will know these two lines easily. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5qzl4mKCgE

A slang that Chennai is so known for. For people hailing from the south part of Tamilnadu, Chennai tamizh is this not so pleasant slang to hear. Even the normal conversation would sound abusive for them. But this is Chennai for you and me. This song and the female who appears in it is so iconic that her Chennai tamizh is just spot on. 
Just sharing one more video with her iconic chennai tamizh dialogue! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3qMrw6xEG4

Idli

Ready for a gastronomic delight?? 

This is about the staple tamil breakfast named ‘idli’. Made of wet batter of rice and lentils and left to ferment overnight, this food item is among the most nutritious of the lot.  

I love idli.  Mainly because of the metamorphosis it is capable of.  You can have it plain, with chutneys made of coconut or tomato or pudina  (mint leaves)  or coriander leaves (cilantro) or with a powder made of ground dal and chillies. You can also soak it in sambar or powder and eat.  Bothered that there are some idli leftovers?? No worries, you can always dice it up and make upma.  

Idlis are the comfort food for a lot of people down south.  It is available everywhere and there are places where Idlis are available fresh and piping hot round the clock.  

This is a bowl of mini Idlis,popularly known as 14 Idlis.  It is named so because, usually, one lot has 14 idlis. 

This is a must have item when you are visiting tamil nadu and I bet you won’t be disappointed.  

This post is a part of the A to Z challenge 

Hot, Hotter, Hottest

Chennai is known for its weather which goes along these exact words- Hot, Hotter, hottest.  

It’s true.  

The normal weather here on any given day is upwards of 33 degrees Celsius.  Summer is scorching with temperatures ranging anywhere between 37-42 degrees.  People have acclimatised themselves to this heat and have been enjoying the vacations in their own way for decades now.  

Although my strong advise would be to not visit Chennai during March-September period, we have some desi ways of beating the heat that have been perfected over the years.  

Do not step outside your shelter without a bottle or two of water.  

It might add weight to your carry ons, it might be tedious or even old fashioned. This is not the right time to prioritise fashion over health.  

Do not shy away from asking for water to people nearby, in case of emergencies.  

Feeling giddy? Exhausted?? Dehydrated??? No worries, just approach your nearest passed by for water.  Unlike many other countries, we do share water bottles here and are totally hygienic.  

Replenish your fluids with melons.  

Watermelons and musk melons are available in abundance for cheap rates. Have them as frequently as you can.  They would help a lot to battle the heat.  
Avoid layers in clothing.  

Not the right time to dress up in synthetics or show off that new Cardigan you picked up for your tour around the town.  Dress up in cottons and light fabrics, and of course in light colors.  Thank me later.  

Use umbrella, sunscreen, hats etc

Time to take out that umbrella and hat. Guard yourself from the cruel rays of the Sun and be protective about your skin.  

Avoid heavy make up

You already look great! Why to mess it up with a three inch thick goes mix of make up?? Let your skin breathe.  

The above tips are just the basics that would help you survive what we call ‘Summer’. 

Beat the heat and enjoy the summers.  

This post is a part of the A to Z challenge