“Somewhere between the heat of Chennai and the warmth of Madras, we all grew up.”
I’ve not had the pleasure to call many cities as home as this is the only one I’ve been living in all my life. Frankly speaking, the right question to be asked should be - How big an impact can a city with 10 million people have on one single person’s life? Where other cities take people to places, how hard is it to find a city which adopts you? I’ve always believed that you can’t compare cities because I don’t think any person in their right mind will give up the city they grew up in. Same with Madras.
She made me grow up as a person who would end up being pleased about what I’ve become. Her Moonlit beaches have comforted me through some of my most difficult times. Her Margazhi Mornings have been the sweet wake up call that I’d needed on several hopeless mornings. Be it the streets of Mylapore or the avenues of Anna Nagar, the sweets of Sowcarpet or the fish of Mahabalipuram, the bungalows of Boat Club or the slums of Saidapet, the diversity in this city works in a very different manner. The assortment in culture and tradition in no way affects the name written in our hearts. That this city is the one for me and there’s nothing in this world that can beat it.
As I said previously, I’ve not lived in any other place at any point of my life. And I know how each of our homes are where our hearts are. This is not the Quick paced trendy Bangalore. This is not Delhi where there’s a history attached to every nook and corner of the city. This isn’t Mumbai – the city of dreams which never lets you sleep. This is more of the place which helps you have a good night’s sleep while waking you up with a hot cup of filter coffee to live your dreams.
Gratitude has always been realising that right now I have more than enough of what really matters. There is not a day where I’ve not said thank you for this life. So, I wanted to do something as an ode to this beautiful setting she’s given me. This is me reminiscing my Madras memories from a time when a pandemic hadn’t taken up most of our calendars space and the streets filled with vibrant colours, hustling crowds and beautiful chaos! So here goes a trip down my memory lane -
The happy fury of the age old Besant Nagar corn on a cob
Capturing crowded Temple parades that smell like Jasmine flowers
From the City of Sun in the Summer to the City of Stars by Christmas
Hiking against the force of nature on a hot Saturday afternoon in Ranganathan Street
Post Sunrise duty for the fishermen of Muttukadu, ECR
"Anna, nalla thanni irukra maari elani ah paathu kudunga na"
The Art of Kolams ft. Parthasarathy Temple Streets, Triplicane
Spotlight on Auto drivers - Chennai’s very own google maps
The Paradise of Colours called Koyambedu Flower Market
“Amma, what is not special about this city?”
The shades of the streets
"Lighthouse-u uyarathayum enga love letter thaandum"
“Muzhugaadha ship-ey Friendship dhaan”
The colour haven called Koyambedu Flower Market Part 2
The love for music only gets better with age.
“Thambi tea innum varla”
Table reserved for people who pay without checking the bill twice
The thatha who does business with god
The "Which curve to take at Kathipara" conundrum
Dabata Set, Filter Coffee and Page 5 Metroplus Cinema
The horses on the beach that go round and round
Trains tracks flying across Kasturba Nagar
The occasional cameo from an old friend.
Finally, to quote another wise guy who wrote this for an aptly titled song describing the gethu associated with this city :-
“Enga Ooru Madrasu. Adhukku Naanga dhaane Addressu.”
The city exists. But it’s the people who make this city. We are these people. We are Madras.
To this city of life and comfort, I only have love to give