Wednesday, March 23, 2005

India as I see it

I’ve a fascination with India. I totally love living in Chennai, yep Chennai is my ultimate place in India. So far have been to most of the South. Nearly every single nook and corner in Tamil Nadu (thanks to my moms constant we must go to Chitambaram each time and my fascination on the temple architecture), some of Andra right up to Vijayawada and then a few places in Kerala. Even had the typical Kerala living, stayed at a rubber estate in Muttara near Thiruvandrum.

But there’s something with Chennai that I love.

Adyar being my ultimate favourite, then Besant nagar beach, Mylapore, Radha Salai and its trees, Marina Beach and its lipsmacking bajjis, hot and treeless Annasalai with its hidden treasures, Thiruvanmuyir for it’s peaceful Maruthieswarar temple and my first earful of cheri baashai, T Nagar for the shopping crowds and ever festive busyness, the roundabout with the vehlakaran on the horse. Beach road buildings with Moorish designs that remind me of home.

Stopping the auto guy and haggling with him till he says.

"Enna ma ni petrol vehlai yehri iruhku teriuma"

And then engaging him conversation, rajini, kamal, politics, cutouts, vehlavasi, traffic and at all time’s making sure I never looked in front for fear of having a heart attack from their whizzes and near misses.

And everytime they braked coz of some pedestrian crossing, you’d hear them auto drivers saying :

"Dai savehkraki, vithleh sohlithu vanduthiyah?"

And every single time me and bro would break out into fits of laughter. We once actually had one guy who didn’t curse, we were so surprised we asked him. He said :

"Paravaleh pohlichithu pogathum, avan kashtam ennavo?"

Pondy Bazaar stall where I was dumbstruck when the guy spoke back to me in Malay. There went my haggling tactics no 1, in India - Speak in a foreign language.

A lot of people who come back, normally complain its dusty, so hot, the traffic is chaotic but then at the rate the haze is in KL, can we really complain? The thing is I never found it as dusty as some people put it.

Before I first touched Indian soil, people told me scary stories, food is not clean, you can get sick, people this people that. They must have been mad, food is great in India, even at the road stalls especially my favourite bajjis at Marina with that tasty chutney.

Or the first time I had a taste of those miniature idlys at Saravanabhavans or its Panneer Briyani. Breakfast at Sangeetha’s in Mylapore. The first time I ordered Chinese noodles in India, and this plate of red noodles was placed in front of me. My family and I had a good laugh, though noddle or redish, it tasted good.

Or the number of times we as a family got laughed at by the servers when we said pohtum too much rice. Yep 1 thali meal could feed the whole family - all 4 of us but of course we had no choice but to buy 4. It was fascinating to eat lunch at the restaurants. I could see the mountains of rice, and how each person will relish, eating first with sambar, then with kulambu, then with rasam and of course not forgetting curd at the end. It was scary to look at but very interesting, especially when scrawny guys were doing it - where was it all going!

We’ve really seen India change from the first time we were there, most of the time the change has been tremendous. The first time where we spent 3 months there, we got a shock when at 8 pm everyone were beginning to shut their lights to sleep, and we hadn’t even had dinner yet. Thankfully it isn’t like that now, we Malaysians cannot sleep early, even my mom is awake at 11 pm. Or the boom of handphones into the market, first time we were there no such thing, just 8 months later boom it was everywhere, now everyone has one.

Here’s a scene - Man in lungi, takes out phone from drawers :

"Enna meh? Na savari pannikithu iruhkuren. Enna? Varuhmbothu vithandukithe parupu vangithu varuhnum? Aaaa aaaa veiyimeh!"

He mumbles to himself. "Avaleh oru parupu, parupuku parupu vehnumma."

Loved going to the markets, the chili variant in Chennai tastes different from the ones we get here, tad sweet - humm that must be the secret to the bajjis.

The buses that tilt and tilt to one side (see I’m tilting my head towards one direction thinking of it :p) yet still drive on full speed with people hanging out of it. Literally giving meaning to - I’m just hanging.

First time I saw it I went :

Amma lookkkkkkkk bussssssss........ People......... How.........????

Then I saw an even greater amazement, everytime the bus stopped the hanging people would get down and continue their great conversation on the road. Then the light turned green and the bus started moving, but the guys were still talking, and then they did an about turn and jumped on to the bus. Everyday stuntmen of Chennai, no wonder the film stuntmen's complain they do not get enough exposure. Where to get exposure, when every citizen does its own stunt? Typical conversation :

"Jumping from bus? Cheh athelam nammuku jujubi!!"

"Nikkira busleh eruhna mouse illehda machan, odhuna basleh eruhna than ponnuga gavanipange"

yes, yes gavanipohm - "dai avan ulundhana illehyah? Illehyah? Sutha time waste!"

Then cinema watching. What an adventure, mostly to see what the fans do. Though warning if you see a guy sitting alone and already there before you went in - run for your life. That fella will tell everyone in 1 m radius, who don’t want to hear the whole story, bit by bit, scene by scene and some fella’s might even adichify your shoulder and say :

"Nan than sholrenleh ketha ennavam????"

"Dai angehpohgadeh, villain angeh nikkuran!!"

Pavam, poor bro of mine had a taste of all-memorised-know-better-then-even-the-director movie watcher, the first time we went. The fans are great, the moment their hero comes on screen. You hear :

"Thalaiva, vandhuthiya!!" And from the back one fella will comment

"Amam, ivanuku mathum thalaivan, dai gammunu ukaru"

Yep I’m a certified, audience comments hearing movie watcher.

Ah what fun, Chennai is. Memories come gushing in.

See now you understand why I’m so excited about coming to India. If not for the shopping and bajjis at least for the auto drivers "savuhkraki".

11 days more :pppppppppp


Sh said...

Am a chennaiite in Melbourne, randomly dropped in from somewhere.. your post made me miss home like hell :(( .. lucky for you.. Good writing!

visithra said...

Hi Sh

Thanks for dropping in. I'm not sure to feel happy or sad that my post made you miss Chennai. Well a flower to cheer you up @{----{-------. ;))

Sudhir Parasuram (Lakkaraju) said...

Waiting for your arrival, so that I can scoot out of Chennai ! ;-)

While you've narrated your view, you must also write how the others view it - "OMG, shez coming to Chennai, GTH out of here !" :P :P


IBH said...

idhu thane vendamngradhu.....they say.."Vendhai Punnule Velai pachuradhu" ..u are doing that :( boo hoo!!!! hey have a great trip....have double fun in my name too ;)

Murali said...

Chennai avalo pudikkumna, y do u hafta work elsewhere...

Come back here!!!!

Kay said...

hey Visit,

ennathu nee chennai poriya, adi pavi how lucky you.....
Nalla ensoy pannu and dont forget to eat pongal vada in saravana bhavan (enakum serthu sappudu)....

Have an awesome trip ;)
PS : dont come back and write how good was ur trip, i dont think i can handle it :p

visithra said...

Sudhir: Hummm vaiyaleh ketha kathai kehlvipathuruhkiyah???

Nillu nillu angeh vandhu unna torture pahnrehn!!!! Now I shall sit and plan :pppp

excuse me how can I write a omg vandhutaleh post - lol maybe you should :p

Ps : nah varah veraikum apdhiyeh nillu :p

visithra said...

IBH : Aiyo sorry - here's a rose to cheer you up @{---{-----

Promise I shall dutifully have double fun in your name :))))

Optimist : Ahem ah I'm a Malaysian? Love my country, love Chennai also - what to do cannot be at 2 places at the same time - this the time you want to say "scooty beam me" :p

visithra said...

Kay : Danks pa, unnakum serthu sapdrathuku nah uhnum un monkey abcd kutham alla - but for you i'll go kay koruvaiye, b koru vaiyeh, c ku oru vaiyeh - hopefully coz of you i dont get charted of to the asylum :p

Danks - uh will try not to write, feel bad making people sadla :)

Kay said...

monkey kootama.....
2 much 3 much....

hey unnoda Men and women "unwritten rules" and stuff, athu mathri enaku ippo now nadanthathu....
Nee oorukku poitu vaa nariya katha solren.....(lot to say)

visithra said...

Ithuthan 5 muchnu sohlradhu

whei got nother 10 days - im too curious a person - ipohveh sollu - illathi sudhirku pohdurah torture plan unnakum sethu pohturuhvehn :pppp

Maran said...

The best post about Chennai I've ever read Visithra, well done. *wiping my tears* I want to be in Chennai too.

Kay said...

i cant write it here...
If i write it here it will as big as ur post.

visithra said...

Maran : Tsh *I'm blushing* and beaming at the same time - thanks :)))) but don't know how many people want to throw me down Petronas Twin Towers - for making them long for Chennai - Sorry people :)))

Kay : ingeh post pahnulehna - post it on your blog or email me. Ennaku enna un blogku valli teriyadha?

Intha maarilam waste excuse kuduhkakudathu - seekaram pannu don't wait till i leave :))

Sudhir Parasuram (Lakkaraju) said...

Looks like you got everyone going ga-ga over Chennai. I just hope it's not the "other side of the grass is always greener" syndrome for most :)

FWIW, I really like Chennai for a lot of things - the "peace and quiet" and "easy travel scope" (except for the auto) the most. Things that I miss desperately in Chennai are easy weekend getaways, wonderful parks, extreme heat and humidity in summer, ... (that's the general picture) :)


visithra said...

I don't think its that syndrome, more of you appreciate something you took for granted only when its too far away.

Hey I love the autos and its drivers.

Lol you miss the heat??? Yehna avlo coldah iruhka ipoh?? :p

Sudhir Parasuram (Lakkaraju) said...

Gee, that's a blooper !! Chennai sux in heat and humidity ! :) Your coming down here is making me so scared and confused :) Blame you ! :)

Sudhir Parasuram (Lakkaraju) said...

Gee, that's a blooper !! Chennai sux in heat and humidity ! :) Your coming down here is making me so scared and confused :) Blame you ! :)

Sudhir Parasuram (Lakkaraju) said...

Gee, that's a blooper !! Chennai sux in heat and humidity ! :) Your coming down here is making me so scared and confused :) Blame you ! :)

visithra said...

Humm this must be a bigger blooper, 3 times hitting submit? Heheheh

I thought so that was a mistype but couldn't resist pulling a fast one hehehehe :p

I undestand you're scared but this scared?? hummmm

Baejaar said...

You are comitting too many mistakes in "petai bashai". Better brush up ur skills from this - Wikipedia article on Madrash Bashai ;-)

Anyway I guess it is time for you to pack up for your long awaited vacation. So my advance wishes for a happy journey and lovely vacation.

visithra said...

Hi Baejaar,

Welcome here. I don't really use the bashai to be an expert. It was just from memory, been 2 years since I've been there.

Thanks for the wishes :))

Morpheus said...

meliyalume post naalla irunthuchu mei!! :)

PS:came thru teakada..

visithra said...

Morpheus : Welcome here which ever way you came through :p

heheheh good line :p

tilotamma said...

visithra check out and add to the Tanglish on my site.

visithra said...

Tilotamma : Welcome here :)))

Nice post you have there, really intersting comments going on.