Sunday, April 6, 2008

Chennai Chronicles - Change!

I am a nomad as already has been established. But I am very fond of my home land India and the lure has always appealed to me. Yet to satisfy my travel urges I continue to live outside India. However, I have no doubts or misgivings about India's growth and progress. And this fact is re-instated to me every time I return back to India. This time again I can see the changes. Chennai seems to have expanded in all dimensions - become bigger, taller and broader to say the least!!
Every time I come back, a whole metamorphism has conspired in my absence!! This time too there are many such things I have just begun exploring. Years ago one rainy season I remember traversing the Old Mahabalipuram Road and wishing I had a boat instead of a car. The potholed road held sudden surprises for us besides the flooding of the road itself!
Today Old Mahabalipuram Road is a sight to see. The road has become broad and smooth. All the erstwhile potholes are long gone and the road is being beautified to have green medians and lovely looking bus stops! Not to mention the big hotels, apartments and IT Hubs that have appeared splattered all through the IT Corridor

Venture into the city though and I feel so lost... I used to know Chennai like the back of my hand, and zip by on my scooty many years back. Today all my regular routes are -ways and I find myself frequently disoriented in my attempt to paint the town red!
However there is nothing at all that is not available. From Fisher Price toys to Quesadilla's and Margaritas everything is readily available if you can pay the price! I visited City Center and stood in awe like a villager at all its splendor!
I packed my bags for the first train journey this trip and entered the Egmore railway station. The numerous helpers in India have always held an appeal to me. And I kept talking about hiring a porter to cart all the boxes to the train. Imagine my surprise when I saw escalators zipping up and down. However at the base of the escalator we encountered a porter. I remember my erstwhile trips to Egmore where I haggled with him and he always had the upper hand. Knowing fully well that we are going to have to use him. I would part with atleast a 100 bucks or more every time. This time the guy was willing to do it for next to nothing. I will do it for 20 bucks he said. I was very tempted to give it to him.. poor guy!

As I landed back in Chennai, I haggled with an auto wala to take me home and as expected he started off with atrocious prices. I called my uncle to ask him what the reasonable price was. And he educated me about the Volvo A/C Buses now plying across Chennai. These look so wonderful that now I need to take a trip just to experience the joy ride! We took a regular bus though, at Nantu's request. It was his first bus trip and turned out to be fun early in the morning with none of Chennai's hustle and bustle! We also made an auto trip also at Nantu's request. However in a few minutes the breeze and rocking put the li'l ruffian to sleep, so I was left alone to enjoy the sights and smells of Chennai!
Another experience of note was an evening at one of the oldest clubs in Chennai - The Gymkhana Club. The ambience and food was simply superb and we had a relaxing meal and uninterrupted gupshap (conversation) thanks to Uncle S. The club retains all of its old splendor and traditions, which include a strict no to photography. So my armor the camera was rendered useless there. But then we had a lovely time nevertheless and that was a lovely end to a busy shopping day at Chennai!
However, some things never change in Chennai and the familiarity they represent is strangely comforting - the heat, the traffic and the bustling city. But as bad as it sounds, these are the things that make Chennai what it is and I wont change a thing about it!! (Oh well, I take that back.. If only I could turn down the heat a bit!!)

13 comments:

rayshma said...

aww...
strange as it may sound... i'm not really attached to my home-town... home-country, yes... :)

Thinking aloud said...

i know just what you feel....Oh yes Chennai has changed...i just went teher for a cousin's wedding last year and was zapped...

and evry year when i visit bangalore i get a shock...and i so do miss my blore of the yester years...

Rambler said...

when we live in that place we don't realize the change..and yes cities in India have changed so much..

Nisha said...

Yes, Chennai has changed so much. You cannot identify the good old Madras with the new and chic Chennai I guess. Once the name changes, even the identity and character of the city changes. Hope this good trend in improvement keeps happening at a sensible rate.

2 B's mommy said...

Didn't know that you were planning a vacation !Same thing happens to Hyderabad too yaar - everytime I go there, there's a new flyover, new buildings etc etc. I am really impressed that you are still finding time to update your blog and visit other bloggers !! How long are you there for ?

Aryan said...

hmm..very well said about chennai heat..South India is know for it..Anyway enjoy . When are you back..???
AM

Lavs said...

Ha, that heat...I can stand it if the heat gets turned down completely...when you have time, do drop me an email...i cannot travel..but at least would love to catch up with you over phone

Nomadic Couple said...

Looks like you are having a blast on your holidays... BUT this nomad feels totally lost in Chennai these days. I definetely crave for the Chennai without the crowds.... I guess the crowds are the cost of development... BUT I like quite beaches of the uyesteryear taht seems to have completely disappeared. Simlarly the Mahabilpuram road that was was full of potholes also had people drying out their paddy.... not much chance of that now :-)

I found MB very touristy and crowded last year, and was craving for the quite days when you could wander around, and imagine the splendour of yester era!

Preethi said...

Rayshma - aaw :(
Suma - I felt the same about Blore when I was here a couple of years ago.
Rambler - So true
Nisha - Very interesting view!
2BM - Am here till end of May. As for the updaets.. I feel I wil forget my trip otherwise :)

Preethi said...

Aryan's mom - am having fun!
Lavs - Shoot me an email with your number.. and we will catch up!
NC - So true!! :)

keith hillman said...

For better or worse, progress is unstopable. A fascinating post.

Anonymous said...

Hi!
Very happy to see pics from my native village of thenthiruperai! Thanks for bringing this for us... has been more than a decade since I went there - used this to show the pics to my kids too!
We lived in Denver for a long time too.. nice coincidence..
Very interesting blog.. keep it up

Aryan said...

When is the new update?>
AM