It has just been a month in Chennai and people are already calling me Madrasi/Chennaikar/Chenneite and what not. So let me share experience of MY city.
As you all already know we are quite popular for not speaking Hindi rather deliberately speaking in Tamil with an intention of not helping north Indians (that is anybody who does not speak Telagu, Tamil and Malayalam). Yes! We can immediately find out that irrespective of the attire. But let me correct your misconception, how do I speak in Hindi/English if I have not learnt it ever in my life? Moreover, we do make an attempt to help you in whichever way possible. We know few English words, right/left /straight/U turn/signal /Yes/No/ and C’mon sign language is the best way to help you guys, isn’t it?
Anyways, let’s talk about conveyance. There are 4 options available -Auto, bus, local train and share auto (tam-tam is what I used to call it in Aurangabad) and Thanks to Ola, Uber, TFS which are dominating almost every city. Fast-track is a local cab service and quite cheaper that Uber/Ola/TFS and much more preferred here. So, I am free to choose the mode of transport as per convenience and budget. Yes, it is hustle in travelling buses during peak hours considering the hot and sweaty weather of Chennai. But then you will miss the chance of experiencing aroma of jasmine at that very moment when you are about to lose all your patience due to crowd and sweat. Be it a housewife, working woman, old lady or college girl, jasmine garland ( gajra) is one thing they don’t leave house without.
Coming back to conveyance point, the next option is auto. Of course, autowala robs me and refuse to go by meter but that is not because I don’t understand Tamil but because it’s what they do. Don’t we experience the same thing in Aurangabad or Pune or any other city for that matter!!!
To my surprise, it is fine with a cab driver or autowala in Chennai to not have Rs 2-3/- change. They never cribbed or made me go to nearby pan/grocery shop for Rs2-3/- (UNLIKE PUNE). Once a cab driver let go Rs.12/- and I couldn’t stop thanking him. The same is the case with cobbler/ sabjiwala/ Laundry wala. They act totally normal if I request to give the money next time. Mind You! This treatment is given in the first meeting. I think they understand the importance of retaining customer rather than throwing an attitude which shouts “You need me, I DON’T!!”
Chennai is an idli-wada- dosa city is all I heard before. Well! Not for a south Indian cuisine lover like me. I got to have hell lot of varieties of chutneys and dosas here. To name a few are Carrot Dosa, Wheat Dosa, Podi dosa . By the way, podi is a powder made from various roasted lentils, coconut powder and sesame seeds and is a must have with idli or dosa.
Moving forward, one thing I have noticed here is number of vegetables available in a single meal is much more compared to what people usually haveall over India. Sambar (item in almost every meal) will have at least 4-5 vegetables plus lentil and same is the case with chutneys. Also, the way potato is used by north Indians or mahashtrians , Chennaieits use carrot in cooking ( told you about carrot dosa earlier). The next most popular item is banana. Banana stem, flower, raw banana and all the possible parts of banana will be found in fridge. Being Rujuta Diwekar’s huge fan, I am taking her advice seriously and eating local. So next time you are at my place for meal, you will see lots of carrots, banana delicacies and not to forget curry leaves added in almost everything.
My meal is not complete if I don’t have filter coffee. A tea freak like me has been completely transformed into a filter coffee fan. I am ready to pay all your CCD and Starbucks bill if you don’t love filter coffee here.
Note to all my friends and family members: I would love to see coffee filter in the kitchen. Now, you know what to get me for house warming: D
Now that we are talking about Starbucks and CCD, I am soooo happy to share with you that now I can have peri peri chicken whenever I have craving. Yes, I am talking about Nandos! One thing I missed badly in Pune. Chennai being metro serves with almost all the big food chains, breweries, coffee shops and themed restaurants. This is the case with fashion brands as well. I have been only to one mall and yet to explore others.
My point is the lifestyle current generation follows is more or less similar irrespective of the city you live in. Don’t you think the urban life now a day is quite easy? The movie you want to watch, restaurant you would like to go to, fare estimate to a particular place is all just a click away .What to exactly find where and when these days is very handy. I don’t deny at all that the city doesn’t have the characteristics of its own. It definitely has!! The fun is in observing the similarities in culture and analyzing the differences.
One thing I have realized after coming here is “to each his own”. I think if you are typecasting things and following other’s opinions, you might lose a chance to experience something new on your own. The best way to explore a city is to embrace it with open mind and make your own views.
Thanks Chennai for treating me well. Happy Month-versary!