I am doing my summer internship at Centre for Insurance and Risk Management, IFMR, Chennai. Since last few days, I am unable to resist the urge to write something on my experience in Chennai of the past one month.
Few things without which u can’t imagine Chennai:
- The hot and humid climate.
- The typical South Indian food.
- Rajnikant (the man who is highly capable of proving the principles of physics wrong, no doubts by his extra ordinary stunts) and MG Ramachandra (affectionately called in Tamilnadu as MGR).
- The notorious auto walas and poor traffic sense.
- Outfits of the localites (local south Indian people, esp. males in their “typically wrapped” lungis).
- Last but not the least, the sweet and cute south Indian girls (most of them :)).
During the first few days of my internship, i was really pissed off with this city. It’s damn hot and humid. For the initial one week, you would have found me holding a handkerchief in my hand and wiping off sweat all the time. My god, in those days i used to take shower thrice a day . The South Indian food here is very good. The taste at each and every eatery, be it a restaurant or a five-star hotel, is quite the same, but very different from what we get in other parts of the country. As you can guess, I have been liking the south Indian food so much that you will always find me gulping it down. It’s quite delicious. Those who believe North Indian cuisines taste horrible in south, I shall deny it. You can also get good North Indian cuisine over here. Tamilnadu’s regional language Tamil is damn interesting and funny at the same time. Many a times, i just sit by and hear people talking in Tamil. I just love the tone of this language. Have learnt a few things also – “yepidi eruke”(How are you?), then “Nella eruke” (I am fine), paityakara (a mad boy), paityakari (a mad girl), tamil teriyaadh (I don’t know tamil).
Now coming to the most interesting thing i noticed over here and i assure you won’t find it anywhere else in India – the charisma of film actors. You won’t believe it but actors like Rajni (as he is called over here) and MGR are worshiped next to Gods. You will find MGR’s statue at a lot many places – roads, parks, buildings, shops, multiplexes and restaurants in his name. Dare if you utter any word against these actors in public and people gonna thrash you (might not be with hands, but with their arguments). Another interesting thing worth noticing is that you would find a lot many Tamilian actors in politics. MGR never lost any election in his life, even when he was on his death bed. I had this conversation here with a lot many people on why so much of fuss about actors in Tamilnadu and the reasons behind it are also very fascinating. I will write on it some other day. And ya, needless to mention that i have watched a few Rajni movies over here and of course, was amazed with his dialogue delivery and stunts (aaah! yu must see the way he is walks. Can’t miss it!).
One thing i didn’t like about Chennai are the autowalas. They are really the villains over here. They won’t even mind to rob you off (of course, by way of charging high fares). There is no meter paying system here (though it’s mandatory as per the laws, but who cares ??? Autowalas give a damn to it. They have a strong union over here) and you have to negotiate the fare before you hire the auto. You would find it hard to believe but a lot many times they will charge you Rs. 50-60 just for a distance of 1.5 kms in the proper city area. But hey, I have learned the technique on how to bargain the fares from my mentor. And guess what, the technique works! It’s tried and tested. Here’s it – ‘dont speak Hindi; ask the fare to the autowala in crooked English and he will, for instance, say Rs. 60 (though ideally it has to be Rs. 30-35). You should not agree for such a high fare told by the autowala. Now bring an innocent/pitying expression on your face and start saying “Anna student, only 30. Anna student. Only 30. Anna, 30 more money. High money. I have no money anna. Student anna. Only 30. No 60. Anna student”. Let him blabber. You just keep saying your mugged lines. Screw up his head and he will agree. In less than a minute, you will find yourself in the auto with an agreed fare of Rs. 30-35. And about the traffic sense, it’s very poor. I guess, pathetic should be the right word. People drive so badly that while someone is crossing a road, they won’t even care to slow down their vehicles (as if thinking, why the hell should I care). They will simply bash the vehicle into you.
About outfits, it’s interesting. You will find the localities in lungis and that too almost wrapped to the size of a boxer. One thing I noticed carefully about the outfits in general is that people are not more of fashion-oriented. They still prefer designer & bright jeans and trousers, which people of other metro/mega cities have kept aside long time back. Leave apart those flashy shirts and t shirts. This makes me believe that Chennai people are very simple and sober in their lifestyle.
Another thing worth noticing in Chennai is that people are very close to their culture and traditions. They won’t compromise on them. For instance, they prefer to eat by hands. They might be among hundreds of other sophisticated people who would prefer to eat by spoons and forks (though they might be struggling with them), they will surely eat with their hands. Some might see it to be disgusting and irritating to others around, but personally i like that they are not ready to give up on their traditions and culture.
One fabulous thing (irony intended) worth noticing in Chennai and that we all won’t appreciate is that a day ends much earlier here. I mean shops, restaurants, and all other places close too early. For instance, if you reach a restaurant at 9:15 PM, the waiter will no doubt serve you (but would be blabbering to himself, “hey god. Why the hell did they come at this time, I wish these people gulp down their food quickly. I wish they don’t order anything more”). And the moment the last bite of your ordered food goes into your mouth, you will find the waiter standing besides you with a check. That’s Chennai man. People get back to their homes by 10 PM.
(Strictly a personal opinion) Lastly, the girls. They are very sweet and cute. I mean the way they talk, their expressions and ya, they are too chirpy, all time blah blah blah. They put their whole heart into their gossips (but then i guess, no girl in any part of India can be an exception).
Hey but this city is really very good and i have been liking it now. Would love to stay here given an opportunity (any day as against Mumbai).
That’s my experience in/of Chennai till now.
Watch a movie clip from one of the most successful movies of Rajnikanth –“Sivaji – The boss”.