After writing about Bombay, I feel compelled to write about my home city Chennai. Home is to do with the heart. You can’t objectively analyse and critically look back on your home. But still, I’m attempting this exercise in honor of what Chennai is and will continue to be for millions of simpletons like me.
While Bombay overpowers you with life, Chennai is a laid back city that just lets you be without having to establish your existence. Chennai is idyllic, reflective and tranquil. There is this incredible sense of liberation. It’s a place where you aren’t judged on your material wealth or display. Here, greatness is in the mind and not in the money you throw around. The rains are characteristic of Bombay, historic structures characterize Delhi. The ocean characterizes Chennai. It’s like the waters of the ocean which is witness to many a tremor but looks calm on the surface. Calm waters run deep, it can’t be truer. Chennai is an unassuming city with no big claim to anything. Our minds are so elevated that we can do without all the useless accessories and ornaments. There is a place for everyone. It’s an incredible macrocosm of so many microcosms, one not competing with the other and sometimes even blissfully unaware of the other.
The pride of Chennai is the preservation of culture. Culture not just in the form of dance and music but the culture of a people and their living. The neighborhoods largely retain the inhabitants from a century. Chennai symbolizes the popular philosophy of Live and Let Live. An orthodox Brahmin women in the typically style of draping a nine yards can easily co-mingle with college students in jeans and tees. Of course, Chennai is not Bombay or Delhi where you can see a good number of girls in skimpy clothes. In spite of being a place which doesn’t know of winters, women are almost fully clad. Classical music is still very popular and the December Music season makes or breaks career in the Arts. People go in such huge numbers that it creates an entire ecosystem of itself complete with itineraries, guide books and travel packages.
Chennai is a metropolitan city, in fact it’s the first city colonised by the British. But it carries the new and modern along with the old and time-tested with not so much of a conflict. We have the Metro but people prefer the Pallavan buses that are the source of quaint charm.
Chennai doesn’t rush to make money but has this enviable gait of leisure and contemplation. That’s what I love, that’s what everybody loves when they walk the sleepy avenues of Adyar or Ashok Nagar on a hot sunny afternoon. Every afternoon is hot and sunny for that matter. It’s truly Home, anyone can feel at Home simply because it is plain essential. It is like the simple dal chawal mom makes at home, unassuming yet most inviting and natural to one’s self. It lacks the flamboyance and precisely for that reason it welcomes you to curl up and snuggle in all your ugly but human elements.