When you live in the same town for twenty-five years, you cannot help but form an intimate deal with it. After all, this is your home, your solace and your comfort zone. You would think that my bond with Madras is on the same line but let me point out the difference out to you, for our love goes beyond the length of Marina beach. It is here that I spent my childhood playing Pandi and it is in this city that I grew up, fell in love, found my dream-job and drank the best ever coffee in the whole world. Explaining my love for the city is an enormous quest that I have decided to go on today.
At school and college, while every kid took pride in naming some far-away small town or village as their “Native place”, I was never shy to announce that my hometown is Madras, this city, nothing fancy. I felt a pride, superiority even, to say I am from the city. The day I left Madras to venture into the unknown land of USA, the husband had a very nagging doubt: if I was upset because I was leaving my mother behind or because I was bidding good-bye to Madras.
The thing is, I don’t miss my city just because it is my home. I miss the relentless sun that makes us want to magically turn into fishes and swim into the Elliots, I miss the pollution that makes my face gritty everytime I zip by on my Scooty. I miss the city which has always been considered an underdog despite its rapid development. I used to love having a terrace to go to and feel the breeze swirling around me. I miss the loud transistors that play random numbers in the Potti Kadais and the convenience of stopping near random autos and asking the ever informative auto Karans for random routes.
Madras, though always in the middle of dirty politics (DMK-va, AIADMK-va?) and glitzy “Kollywood” movies, has always had time for me, a person into neither. Life in my city has always been easier. Signs of growing-up, some may say, but to me it is the charisma of Madras that does it. My bed is always warm there, I always find my way back home, no matter which obscure part of the city I am in, without a GPS. Heck, I even love the stereotype we Chennaiites are. I mean, we are very corrupt or very laid-back, hardworking, snooty or down-right brash. Nothing unique, I know but the Madras brand of the traits are really what I love.
They say that when you really want something, you should probably start counting the negative things you know about it. I have tried doing that. I think of my walks through Doraisamy Road while walking around the running track around a lake back here, I imagine I am traveling by the electric train when I travel the Metro here. I even conjure up the memory of the Chennai bubble-top water when I gulp down fresh water from the Brita here. You know what, I still prefer the Madras part of the experience. As for the mister’s question, I still haven’t found an answer.