Wednesday, December 12, 2007

An Ode to Chennai

(Glossary at the bottom for all non-Madrasis)

Living in Mumbai has opened my eyes to a fallacy that has long plagued the Indian Coolsville. Here "East beds west, so Mumbai is the best". I wore my rose-tinted glasses all along, but then the Koli boy crossed the line. Of all the audacious insults that come as baggage with being a resident of Lungitown invading Bhaizila, "Papadom Thambi" blew my fuse away. So I'm giving vent to my anger by compiling a list of reasons why Idly-Sambaar Suburb makes IndianizedBurgerVille "MIRROR" a cosmopoliton circus flashy in its urbanity. (That's right!! You heard me...the much hyped "vada pav" is but a pasty burger)

1.) The most striking feature is her fidelity to traditional and cultural moorings in the wake of the “Yo-Man!!” and MTV onslaught. Rather than compromising her integrity, she chose to effect the most harmonious confluence of Thairesaadam and Hot-Dogs, silk and denim, M.S.Subbalakshmi and Britney Spears, The Music Academy Kutchery and EC-41, retaining the charm of a neighbourhood Paati.

2.) Standing on my balcony every morning, admiring the beauty of the Kolam adorning my neighbour’s porch, what comes to light is the sheer effort and patience behind the creation of a being so ephemeral, only as a measure of upholding a religious rite. Nevertheless, battered by the fury of wind, water, tyre and the not so friendly neighbourhood dog, it is rejuvenated well before the dawn of sunset to regain its lost glory and the gaze of every passerby.

3.) Picture the stout, red faced, bald (but for the lone warrior battling the sands of time, on a desert in its own right ) asthmatic Thatha draped in his Ujalaed lungi, leaning on a cane and sticking his stomach out. Making his daily trip to the Amman Koil round the corner, he reminisces of the times She was a virgin to Victorian advances. Close on his heels, is the aforementioned Paati cocooned in her seven and a half yard pure Kanjeevaram Silk Saree (“Just recently wonly I purchased in Pothys Silk House” she would brag to the San–Franchesco, Yamerica Returned Paati living next door), sporting trendy “Pyuure” G.R. Thanga Maligai Gold plated spectacles, shooing away bees feasting on the Mallipu embellishing her snow white locks, worried if her grandson would love the poriyal she prepared for dinner with tremendous Lou and Yaffection.

4.) Unwinding to the Grand Old Lady of Mount Road (affectionately called the Hindu), one is comforted by both the hymns emanating from Subramanium Swamy’s 1985 Akai 2-in-1 stereo (gifted by Srinivasa Vardarajan on his trip over from the Gulf) and the Maula summoning his flock in his almost symphonic baritone(enabled with DTS surround sound). A Suud Narasu’s Filter Kaapi with butter biscuit makes my day.

5.) She refrained to succumb to marauding Skyscraping bandits who resolved to reduce her skyline to a mere piece in a sinister concrete puzzle.

6.) Indulge!!
a.) Ghee Dosai with Mulga Pudi – be it from Sid’s Tiffin Box, Sapthagiri or Saravanaas.
b.) Parotta Kurma in any roadside Vandikaar’s Shack.
c.) Parotta and Chilly Chicken at Apollo.
d.) Rasmalai and Kesar Peda at Gangotree.
e.) Dark Chocolate Brownie (Hot) and Pretty Women (not quite as hot as the brownie) at Amethyst.

7.) She is neither home to hypocrites masquerading as Moral Policeman out to impede blossoming love between all those Cinderellas and Cinderfellas nor does she habour Page 3 parasites.

“Things never turn out exactly the way you planned. Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you're in diapers; next day you're gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place...a town...a house like a lot of other houses... A yard like a lot of other yards...on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is...after all these years, I still look back...with wonder.”
--- Kevin Arnold(Fred Savage), The Wonder Years

Glossary : (for all u Mumbaikars and pseudo-Mumbaikars)
Thairesaadam = Curd-Rice, Kutchery = Carnatic Music Concert,
Paati = Granny, Kolam = Rangoli, Thatha = Grandpa,
Koil = Temple, Mallipu = Jasmine, poriyal = Sabji