Saturday, 28 September 2013

City love

When you're happening to travel alone in an auto . . . oops, metered Chennai auto from Egmore to home, which is quite a distance of 16kms, your auto meanders through many flyovers and you get to see a wonderful city bathed in the lights of the numerous street lights that illuminate the roads. It was about 9. 45 pm and with no one to converse, brushed by the gentle breeze of the night, I fell in love with Chennai all over again. I craned my eyes to see beneath the flyovers if the auto was driving above a road and tried to look above and side ways if the auto travelled beneath a flyover. Cities look beautiful at night, especially Chennai with wide roads and multiple lights of different hues - I could soak in those sights like a love-lorn lover or a love-sick poet. The heat and dry humid wind of the day time does not evoke such love unless one is so stricken by the city that even the heat is exalted. I think I like to be a realist here. The gliding Government buses, bikes with couples, cars with hurrying families or singletons blasting radios while casting a stray lingering look at the passing by woman/man sitting in the pillion or auto-rickshaws getting back home after a tiring day -- everything presents a lovely sight. Parallel to these sights, I also imagine the Chennai when I was a regular on those roads, mindless of the heat and sweat and always walking purposefully and never once glanced a loving glance at the city.

This gush of love first began showing its streaks when I started reading the post, "Those girls on Mount Road" by Snigdha Manickavel which was shared recently on Facebook by Jothi Vel Moorthy. I could relate with that writer's perspective on Chennai and tender feelings of joy started taking wings within me and I wanted to reach out to all the places in Chennai that I have known and loved - The place where I went to school lazily walking about on the roads and sharing love notes and class gossips; the bus-stop where I drank Panneer soda; British Council of the early 2000s; WCC and MCC . . . There are many such places.

While reading Manickavel's post, I also remembered another article that I read a day ago in The Economic Times where a certain French writer, Bennet Voyles in his article, "Paris is not Paree anymore; outshined by London, New York" laments that Paris has lost all the seemingly French traits and that London is more French than Paris! He lists many points that were quintessentially French but now is no longer seen in Paris. Can a city every lose the traits that made it, I wondered. Can Chennai ever lose its peculiar traits. It might, otherwise there wouldn't be so many complaining that Chennai is not the same Madras anymore. Will a day come when the spirit of Chennai will be seen only in blog posts and Madras Muthiah's articles, I wonder. But what is this spirit of Chennai that so defines this city -- Is it the healthy idli-dosa-sambar-chutney or the magic tunes of December Festival or the safety factor that makes women fearless on the roads even at 11 pm or 12 pm or the balance between tradition and modernity or the connectivity of the city or just the feel of being in a relatively calm and secure place. I cannot put my finger on any one point.


Well, I just hope Chennai doesn't lose its peculiar Chennai flavour like Paris! Inspite of everything, every time I return to Chennai, I see so many additions to this place and those additions please and irritate me as and how my mood commands but last night while travelling home in that auto, every single sight was being taken in by me as aspects of that city which I have grown to love gradually and all those sights spelt - 'This is home!'



20 comments:

  1. It happens to me when I travel to Madurai and to my native place in Palghat district. I become a different person. A person who is very madly in love,

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    Replies
    1. Glad to see you after long, acchaiyan. Hope all is well. I remember your first visit to M and R was when I posted on Jil Jil Jigarthanda.

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  2. Yes, its a sense of feel one needs to experience it to understand better.

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    1. True that. When one returns after a long time and travels the length and breath, love overflows. i can't imagine this love if I was staying here through and through!

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  3. So well written and I can relate to every word of it. :)
    I guess Chennai has loveliness in the ordinary.

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    Replies
    1. Welcome to the Meanderings, Vandana. Glad to read your insights. Coming to a place after a long time always inspires love in abundance.

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  4. nice....i love the city...esp those that keep their own personality...and enjoy discovering all the little facets of the jewel that they are...

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    1. Ah true that, Brian. All warts and farts are concealed when love of this kind overflows.

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  5. You obviously love Chennai a lot :) I guess you grew up here. We often love the city of our youth and childhood. I can relate to your feelings - I feel them too but my feelings are for another city -Calcutta!!!

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    1. I have another love as well, Meera and that is Bombay, the place where I lived till I was 11!

      Thanks for coming by and recording your insights. Much appreciated.

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  6. u brought back memories that had were beginning to fade. Chennai :)

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    1. Come to visit sometime. We can cruise around.

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  7. I could love Chennai in the same fashion you wrote--simply from reading your post. That is to say--YOU WRITE GOOD, Susan Deborah! Several cities where I have lived long ago, when I ride throught them on my cycle, those feelings awaken in me also.

    But the FARM lives only in my memory, as it is now thousands of people, homes, apartments, streets. It is as if a bomb dropped, leaving only civilization, in place of virgin woodlands,, wildlife, babbling brooks, ponds, acres and acres of green pastures, smelling of cow, horse, sheep and goat manure and wild onions...Ahhhh!

    Thank you Susan Deborah for a verrry pleasant trip through your city-of-the-present.

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    1. Steve, you should visit India once - the shocking colours, the diverse sounds and cacophony will drive you into raptures of ecstasy. Please do come.

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  8. I can completely relate to this as I very pretty much feel the same when I go back to Trivandrum.

    I lived in Madras for two years, when I was ten. I do wonder what it's like now.

    You write beautifully, Susan! Many thanks for your lovely comments on my blog. I really appreciate it.

    Ash xx

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    1. Hello ash, glad to have you here after a long time. Hope you've been well and happy and glad that you've resumed your pictures and quotes.

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  9. I could certainly tell how attached you are to this place, Susan. Hope it's a place you can always call home. :)
    Blessings!

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    1. True, Martha, now that I have left this place, it's priceless to spend some time here. a luxury in fact.
      Love and hugs, dear Martha.

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