Thursday, September 13, 2007

Madras Matters

For 30 months now, I have been living more or less continuously in Chennai (formerly Madras). This is the first time I stayed outside Kerala for so long since my college days. People often ask me how I find the change. Well, not too bad.

First of all the rain gods have been kind. The weather has been quite tolerable, in fact pleasant I would say, except for a month or two in summer. Since we stay about hundred meters or so from the sea, there is always a lovely breeze. The problem though is that our area doesn’t have a proper drainage system. In certain parts of the otherwise well-maintained avenue, the rainwater forms pools that sometimes remain for a couple of days.

Almost everything is home-delivered except liquor. In fact, buying the potion is quite an adventure. There are two wine shops nearby. Unlike Kerala, there is no system of queuing here. In the jostling and wriggling, strong men get the bottles. The meek wait eternally. I tried a few times to buy drinks personally and gave up – not on the liquor, but getting involved in the melee. Now I depend on the driver for buying bottles.

Otherwise, one can get almost everything within a two-hundred meter radius; including ATMs (see ATM Service). What is amazing is that on the 300 meter long street with no high-rise buildings, there are three ironing booths and two tailors, all on the roadside. They pick up the clothes and deliver them back. They seem to be busy all the time.

The road slopes to the sea. An ‘L’ turn takes one to a broad, straight stretch that that has a dead-end. It is parallel to the beach and is a beautiful place to walk – not crowded, hardly any traffic. In fact children play football at the dead-end, and that is great. And, apart from walkers and joggers, one comes across several good quality breeds of dogs. It is sometimes like a Kennel Club parade.

Talking about clubs – that is one thing I miss in Chennai. Occasionally I do go to the Gymkhana or the Presidency. That’s no fun because I hardly know any one there. And I don’t have the knack of introducing myself and getting into a conversation. One’s own club and group of friends – there is nothing like it.

The area is quiet and trouble free. All houses have watchmen. Several of them are on the wrong side of sixty, possibly with impaired vision and hearing. The reason for hiring them, someone explained to me, is the theory that old men require less sleep. That’s fine but if a thief happens to land right in front, the watchman may not know what to do with him!


Also see: No Red Sails in the Sunset


Maddy said...

i can imagine how it is - lived myself in triplicane for 2 years as a bachelor!!

Nebu said...

Dear Achen,
Now I know what to bring you next time I call on you.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thanks, Maddy, Nebu.