Thursday, September 15, 2011

Namma Chennai Rocks - Thursday Thirteen # 2

13 reasons why Madras aka Chennai rocks!

Having lived all my life ( barring the pre-KG years ) in Chennai, it is no surprise I am in love with it. I have travelled and lived for short durations in other main metros, but somehow the quintessential charm of the city fails to be replicated.

I rarely hate cities. I loved the bustling Hyderabad, the antique vintage charms of Calcutta and the smart chic Delhi I met. Trichy, Coimbotre are simply the most heart warming places for me to visit. The former because of my childhood love, and the later because of Isha, friends and simplicity. Ah, and the food in both places :)

Now on Chennai - the autos, the maniac driving and sticky sweat included(absolutely in my own perspective, I will try not to repeat food often)

1. The People and Jobs. We are a very cultural,educated lot. I say that, with a certain sense of pride. From the auto annae, the keerai kaari and the cobbler - everyone has an opinion on politics. People may not be the best to you, but we love our place. I have hardly heard of people from chennai migrating for jobs, except for a promotion or if they work with Google :) There are so many jobs available. Especially, on an entry level.

2. Beaches. I am a sucker at beaches. I love the winds, the sand and the messiness. Irrespective of whatever happens ( rains, sun or tsunami ), I love the beach. Had I been raised in Trichy or even Singapore, I would have missed this. No, Singapore does not have chennai or even remotely close beaches. Marina is now photogenic after the makeover. Elliots has long been my favourite kadalai beach for knowing the hep and cool chennai. We have one more beach, the Thiruvanmiyur one for amateur '8' design car rounds. Beat that, 3 beaches!

3. Food. Name it, we have it. I am not elaborating more on this. Tried the woodfired pizzas at Blur, or the Paneer Kheema dosais ? Yumville! Like every other Indian city, the street food in Chennai is brilliant. Thanks to migratory folks, we have bajjis, sundal and chaat sitting on the same counter. The under-rated son-papris and the over-rated milagai bajjis, we have it all.

4. Tanglish The most elite convent educated girls speak it here. We love our tamil. We love english. So we kalakify it and serve it with a smile. It works like a charm if you want to do shopping in chennai.

5. Pondy Bazar. A reason for anyone to visit my city atleast once. It should be a part of the tourism programmes there. The sheer colours and variety will bowl you over. To me, reminds of college time kurta walks and earring bargains.

6. Sowcarpet. If you have been raised in chennai and never gone shopping ( alone!) to Sowcarpet, you have missed it. The murukku sandwiches, the golas, designer sarees and awesome jewellery. Its our own mini version of Paris for fashion and Italy for food. And its an inspiring place for any juvenile entrepreneur (like me!)

7. Hop-On - Hop-Off buses. I am not sure if any other Indian city has this service. But chennai's AC Hop-On Hop-Off bus services are by far the best ways to go on ECR, if you do not have a car. Great views, and an excellent suspension on these buses.

8.Music Season . I am internally weeping at missing this. The smells, sights, colours and the sheer love for art my city has. The silk cotton crowds, beaded jewellery and south indain chic. The steaming coffees, kasi halwas and vazhaipoo vadais - A feast to all six senses. A place for celebrity spotting - do not be surprised if you find an yesteryear heroine (or a still-young Shobana) sitting next to you :)

9. Satyam Cinemas. Name me a place that offers an equivalent movie experience, steaming dosas on a bar stool and an unparalleled, creamy cold coffee. Simply the best place to watch movies. Even better than IMAX, trust me.

10. The Scene Colleges Stella, Ethi and MOP. Yeah, we are that awesome that we ought to be on this list. The tip of tongue tamil, the kurta-jean costume and the scooty whizzing around Nungambakkam. A treat. MOP is the best, though :P

11. Mount Road. We have one major road that connects you from one end to another - quite literally. Like the PIE here. And if you miss a right,you dont have to go all the way to another corner to get back, like in Banglore.

12. Traditional'a Moderna ? Have a vazhai elai sapadu and shop for ESPRIT clothes. Smoke on a hookah and head off to AF for a play. Nibble on a frankie and shop at Sundari Silks. Chennai is somewhere in between. It does not have the ultra cool post 11PM places to hang out and has a sense of laid back attitude in almost everything, but it suits fine for us. It is safe, spread out well, relatively organised (area wise) and has a blend of tanjavur to mexican food :)

13. We do know Hindi Chennai has got mostly a settled down crowd. The natives do not know hindi. We never had a need to know, because our marwari seths speak tamil. When someone says, abbey yaar, autowalahs do not speak hindi, I am fumed. Why would they expect a native nagapatinam born, educated chennai living autoguy to speak hindi? Walk into Tidel or Ascendas. I bet, 1/5 are from the aloo land.

This post has re-kindled so many happy memories. There is one more point, a very personal one that did not make it to the list. Chennai is the closest city to reach from Singapore. Takes me only 3.5 hours :) and we have budget flights that take for less than 100 dollars. Beat that!

Okay, I am in glee. This post was published on the most amazing fan page "I love Chennai "on Facebook. It is right here and no wonder, I am jumping up and down because of it :)


  1. its a coincidence that i came across this post around the time of my first ever visit to chennai! going there next week for the first time in my life of 34 years!! been to so many other metros/cities but never to the metro that is closest to me here in bangalore! so hoping to relish your post LIVE

  2. Nice , I also have to visit Chennai and trivendrum soon , i also wish why people are not so nice :D !

  3. Sujatha :) Enjoy the city! It is sticky, grimey and polluted. But, there are so many nice things to do. Banglore is one of those places I have been very toursity with. I shud go arnd once more as a casual visitor!

    Ashish - What luck and coincidence :) People are not the best, but they are manageable if you speak english!

  4. Oh man. Thank you for summing up Chennai so beautifully. One thing is for sure. Chennai lets me be.

  5. I love the Tiffin-Sambhar :D I think Kannada sambher tastes a bit sweet compared to Tamilian sambhar and now I am craving it :(

  6. @Chintan - yup, kannada sambar has jaggery :) I love the spicy, tangy TN/Andhra version the best!

  7. Nice read! I know soooo many folks who swear by Chennai, so I found almost all your points quite pleasantly familiar :)
    And thank you for visiting my blog!

  8. Ambika, I loved your blog. On my reader :)

  9. Hey Archana, dropped by your blog through indiblogger.

    Which other post could entice me to go through than a post on Chennai! Though I am not from this place nor I have studied there or been there.. but I love the city and the Tamil flavor.

    My admiration towards Tamil and Chennai derives from the time I spent at Madurai, though Chennai and Madurai would differ on many factors but still the Tamil culture dwells the same everywhere! You could've also mentioned about CSK!! :)

  10. forgot to mention, that was nicely put up!!

  11. Cartic,

    Thanks a bunch :) I should have mentioned CSK, but wanted to get stuff unique to Chennai. Speaking of cinema, we are all either rajni or maniratnam fans :)

  12. Yeah.. how could you forget the one who represents Tamil and Chennai globally!!

  13. this is so true. nice blog about chennai :D

  14. Nice Post.. Loved it.. A few other things that you could to the list.. 1. The spiritual atmosphere around the two greatest temples with flowers, gift shops and book/cd stores. (Kapaleeswarar in Mylapore and Partahasarathy in Triplicane).
    2. The awesome and well maintained Nageswara Rao Park in the prime location in the city

  15. This is such a good post - aptly sums up chennai.

  16. Nithin, Thanks so much!
    KMVJ , Adding them up too :)
    Thanks Mr. Anon!

  17. i am a native of chennai.. I know the feeling.. sorgamey endralum athu num naadu pola varuma.. nice post.. and the thing about tanglish and we do know hindi are so good.. normally would slip the mind but you have captured it so beautifully with words..


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