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Home away from home... Chennai a.k.a Madras.

I came to Madras five years back, and I won't say I love it or like it here... but I do get along with this place. When one comes from a pristinely beautiful place like this...
  (click on the pictures for a larger view)
it's kinda hard settling down in a bustling chaotic metropolitan city like this... 
I think this picture perfectly depicts the essence of any metropolitan city. We are a beautiful race steeped in religion but our aesthetic sense is totally off the charts. 
Anyway, my favourite place in Madras is this church, St.Theresa of Avila Church, Nungambakkam.
Its the most beautiful place I know in this city. The Sunday evening mass here is something I wait for every week... to me, this church has become synonymous with Madras. Whenever folks from out of town visit me, I always take them here first and then we hit the malls. Chennai has quite a collection of malls, and they make great hangout places. 
You know how they say that you become like a kanju karvadu when you come to Madras, nothing could be truer than this. I mean while drying clothes outside during summer (which is more or less throughout the year), the minute you pin it up and turn your back, the cloth is already dried to a crisp. No, am not kidding... it does get that hot here, your brains tend to scramble. All this heat does have some benefit though,  I kinda like the way my clothes smell like warm sunshine after soaking in all that gorgeous golden blinding sunlight. And the rising mercury is also a blessing in disguise, makes it difficult for diseases to spread and propagate.
An exasperating aspect of this city, is the traffic... vehicles operate on some high end vendetta against each other. The auto rickshaw drivers especially belong to some secret Schumacher clan, they are a funny bunch though... the auto seems like an extension of their human form, the way they weave in and out of traffic is incredible to say the least. All this being said, I actually prefer auto's while travelling, they know a myriad of routes and they drive like they own the road, insults and death stares are like water of a duck's back to them. Even though their fares are atrocious, a few 'Anna's' thrown in during conversation, can work wonders. 
I do wish our government paid more attention to the plight that besieges the common man though. When  it rains, its like a cesspool here... and that's when I can't stand this city. I love the rains in my hometown, the whole place smells beautiful like the earth has just awoken from a refreshing slumber and to see the rain water tumbling and sparkling as it flows down the street is a delight... its the stuff of children's dreams. Here the disgusting black foul water swallows kids whole... through open drainage vents. Seriously, it's like our very own Azkaban when it rains... the stench and the black swirling waters is enough to quench anyone's happiness. 
The people here are generally nice, more laid back and less fake. In Bombay, the perfectly made up teenagers could give anyone a complex. Thankfully here the teenagers still have double braided hair and plain simple faces, just like I did ages ago... it's nice to know somethings never change. Another thing specific to Madras that I really like is The Hindu newspaper with all its various supplementary papers... it's almost a tradition to finish the morning chores quickly and then settle down in a quiet corner to peruse The Hindu, hoping no one disturbs you till you are done with it. 
I have skipped out the obvious little things like the best breakfast in the world (idlis), the kolam, the jasmine flowers that adorn thick black tresses, the elegant pattu sarees and the penchant for gold ornaments cause these form part of the Tamilian way of life... irrespective of place. I think this city has its heart in the right place, and it is without a doubt the best city in India in many ways... 

This post is part of a blog tag initiated by the Chennai Bloggers Club, a bunch of bloggers from Chennai who meet up often and stay connected through the CBC Facebook group. Around thirty to forty bloggers are taking part in this tag and it's been fun reading a new post each day bout 'What Chennai means to me'. This tag was passed on to me by a passionate new-born blogger, Kalyani Ram, and I am passing on the tag to my friend Mahesh Ramani, a poet, cineaste, bibliophile and a die-hard romantic. Do check out their blogs too....

Comments

Susan Deborah said…
I am suddenly craving for The Hindu. I love getting lost in the supplementary esp the Sunday's one. Ah, I want it now. I liked this nonchalant post which has the unique Karen touch to it.

Thanks a ton for participating in this Blog Tag dear Karen. Much appreciated.

Joy always,
Susan
Lovely post! :) Specially that traffic picture looked like a painting to me :)
Excellent pictures. The colours in your images are very vivid and natural.

I too hate both the heat and the rain. But it rains so less and one gets adjusted to the heat (eventually and relatively, I mean). I don't as much like the normal idly, I think sambar idly and masala dosa are the best breakfast items in the world :)

Destination Infinity

Really enjoyable post. Rediscovered some more of our city. Thank you for reminding me. Azkaban is it? A first time that one.
Prashanth Ashok said…
Nice :) Well shot pictures
Candice said…
You almost made me like madras... Even the horrible heat!
Years ago, in chennai, i was in a rickshaw whose driver not only drove like he thought he was schumacher but like he was schumacher on acid with gangsters chasing him. That morning i thought i was going to die.
Anyway that was a really good post.
Ashwini C N said…
Loved the pictures and the post. I've been to the Church once and I loved the place. :-)
Daemon Zak said…
the picture used to depict Madras as a bustling metropolitan city is so wrong . Its just your sinister mind trying to belittle the beautiful city in your own wicked way.

You do not qualify to write about Madras. Your heart is not there in Madras.Even though the post is nice, there is no soul in it, unlike your other posts.

And I know all this because I know you both pretty damn well :-E
BackStage said…
LOL I'm actually laughing so hard at Daemon Zak's comment... The way you instagram those pics are so good.
Karen Xavier said…
Susan, even when I go to my hometown.. I miss The Hindu, the little supplementary papers are chock full of interesting tidbits.

Ganga Bharani, Thanks...

Destination Infinity, how can you not like the normal idli, it is the only food I eat when I am sick, since I can't stand rice.

Clement Williams, Azkaban is the prison in the Harry Potter series where the prison guards have the power to suck the happiness out of you.

Prashanth Ashok, Thanks...

Candice, haha... jovan had a similar driver who provided further entertainment by singing at the top of his lungs.

Ashwini, thank you :)

Daemon Zak, is your Asperger's acting up again...

Gibsy, glad you find him and my blog entertaining ;)
Daemon Zak said…
are auto-rickshaw drivers smart well spoken PhDs in the rest of India . I think they are idiots mostly everywhere !
Ganesh Puttu said…
loved the description of "kaanja karuvadu"
from a kaanja karuvadu
yummychunklet said…
What great photos! Thanks for sharing them.
Harikrishna said…
Wow wow... good photos :) scintillating effect :D
Tandy said…
Thank you for the journey I've experienced here by reading about where you live :)
The Pseudonym said…
Kaanja Karuvadu huh! You should definitely visit Vellore this summer to appreciate Chennai summer. :)

And that church, is it the one close to Good Shepherd School?
vinodvv said…
Once I use to be a sucker for those hoarding, have a collection of them. Was nice to see, but now with less hoarding seems even better.

<3 all your creative photos & the language and tone :)
Karen Xavier said…
Daemon and Ganesh, I shall just ignore your comments...

yummychunklet, Harikrishna and Tandy... thanks guys.

The Pseudonym, this is the church opposite ishpahani centre, just before the Gemini flyover.

Vinodw, thanks... what hoarding are you talking about?

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