Wrong place Wrong time

Ok..It has been quite few weeks since I updated the happenings around me.

The first and foremost that I want to share here is my Delhi trip fiasco. My dear husband is currently employed in Delhi and ever since I returned from that ice-cold foreign nation I didn’t get a chance to meet him. So we promptly planned for the trip on May end. On the clutch of curiosity, my hubby completely forgot the horrendous climate Delhi had at the moment. I being a total naïve to northern part of India packed my bags eagerly to enjoy the trip. In this whole mishap, the soul that suffered hard was my baby daughter.

One thing that Delhi made me realises is that, it is a pure bliss to spend summer in Chennai. Delhi made Chennai a safe heaven. On the first day evening, we went to India gate in the whopping 44-degree hotness and my poor daughter cupped her cheeks unable to cope up with the blazing temperature. We soon cancelled all our plans to visit the world famous tourist spots except for the wonder Tajmahal.

Yes we couldn’t cancel our trip to the world wonder mainly because my hubby already booked tickets and it was not possible to cancel them later. That’s how we landed on the world most beautiful place in the worst possible climate. I don’t want to go in detail on this disaster further…

Now, coming to reading I have been quite consumed by the series ‘The song of Ice and Fire’. This is one of the most brilliant stories I have read recently. This series is comprised of seven volumes and I am still at fourth. Next to Harry potter, this series has already gained a special place in my heart. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Well…this is for now.

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Laila – The Cyclone

Tuesday evening when I was back to home from office, Chennai offered a incredible climate. The usual blistering heat was gone. In the place of oppressive clear sky, odd moody clouds were brooding blankly with mild depression. Is this really May 18 ? A day of Agni Natchathiram?, are the questions that would have suddenly sprang in the hearts of those who happened to cross Marina beach on that beautiful evening. I did cross Marina that evening and the same question surfaced in my heart too. When I got home, I discussed this uncommon thing I witnessed with the family and they told me the birth of brutal cyclone Laila.

On the other circumstances I – or any other chennaite, to speak, who rely on the road transport -would have regretted for the birth of a cyclone. With cyclones hanging around, it is not so feasible to travel in Chennai. However, the agni natchathiram had hotted up the place so much, that the news of storm cooled me off. I looked at the clouds devotedly, which was still brooding deeply. “Does this people deserve the rain?”, it seemed to be asking itself  to make up its mind. That night, at 15 minutes to 3 AM, a massive thunder shattered my sleep. The baby cyclone was playing outside.

Chennai electricity board  (EB) folks were rather sharp. Their passion to work is unlimited in the period of floods, cyclones and other natural disasters. It was with that passion, they cut down the power scarcely had the storm started to play.

Wednesday dawned with lack of light. The day was on the hands of Laila, which then moved out from its baby phase to matured girl. It altered Chennai ardently. I set out to work with the aid of thin umbrella. Heavy rain vanished the streets. Waist-deep water wrenched my attire. On the way to office, an uprooted tree rested peacefully across the road as if taking sun bath in a sea shore. A helpless traffic constable, along with a crowd of cheerful spectators, stared at it painfully. This blocked the traffic.

Evening was also pretty challenging. Intensified Laila uprooted more tress and landed them exactly at the spots where it will be visible for general public. I called my home and asked if the power was restored. “No”, my mother said, “those EB fellows are very much concerned about our safety. They suspect some power leakage around our place and are not willing to pass the leaking voltage in human beings”.  I said, “ That will not save me completely. Probably while swimming in the waist-deep dark water with no street light to guide me, I would land smoothly in some trench dug for rain water storage”. She asked me to shut up and I did. The day ended with lots of adventure.

Only after 32 hours , EB regained their confidence that they will not be responsible for any killings that happens around my place. Power restored. Laila is no more here. It drifted to Andra now and on the way it seems to be brooding again on whether it needs to hit machilipatnam or not.

Singara Chennai

I am a traveler. For the past 3 years, I have been traveling 70 kilometers each working day.  I should not be confused with the people who can even watch vast empty lands with gleeful eyes, call themselves great travelers and write travelogues. No, I am not a Bill Bryson, rather different. Perhaps, I can be taken for the tired traveler who get down at Central bus stop after just been pick-pocketed, who deeply regrets that he has to stick to this blighted 1B bus, no matter how much he detest travelling and loosing his wallet in the rush. Just like him, it is not with the fascination to explore the world that I have been zooming along the city daily,  but merely because of the fate that is forced on me. Unfortunately, my office is constructed on other end of Chennai.

To travel 70 kms in Chennai is not easy. It requires lots of patience. Traffic signals are trauma inducers. Horns blowing drivers, who mistakes horns for frustration outlet, are sort of mindless zombies. To a person who travels amidst such suffering, sight seeing is the only way to ease the pain. However, if you look at the options for sight seeing, Chennai, once, had limited things to offer.

In the initial days, once I was out to travel, it was hard to see many good looking face. With Chennai’s heat setting ablaze, I could see either a helmet-headed or Churidar-dupatta-headed image whizzing past me.  Even four wheelers were not up to the mark, when it comes to amusement. Many of them had the shielded window  that made impossible to view anything beyond my own face’s reflection on their shining window.  Other options were signboards and posters adorned Main road walls. It was invariably the best entertainers once. It was only from those film posters , my general knowledge on cinemas and Chennai theatres improved considerably.

The other spot which initially held my attention was Marina beach. I have to daily cross the beautiful Marina to reach the other end of city. It always had something animating to offer. When the mornings were entertained by the middle age health conscious folks of Marina, the young love birds kept me amused when I returned back in the evening.

In spite of all these, slowly the beauty began to fade. After 2 years of ardent traveling, I was quite used to all these sights. Even the lovers of Marina couldn’t keep my attention.  If I happen to eye an couple in a Hero Honda, once glowed face of mine would just sigh and resign.  There were not much difference in the movie posters for the past few years except for the hero and heroine. The recent SURA poster is one best example. Gradually I started to sleep off while travelling and have been sincere in doing that .

Then one fine day everything was changed. The beauty began to blow back in. Chennai has something extremely fresh to offer this time. Those beautiful folk paintings. To the eyes which literally stares at laptop screen for the whole day, those fine looking pictures are like a glimpse to heaven.  I refuse to sleep in cab these days not wanting to miss the sight of them. Chennai, at some areas, looks like a art museum now. Did some one name this city as “Singara Chennai” ? , oh ! yes it is . …indeed….indeed.

To view some of these paintings, visit this lovely blog.

Here are some pictures from that blog.

Man plans, God laughs

I read it in a book, if you want something you wish to happen in your life, all you have to do is sit and wish. The positive waves from your thinking will make whole universe conspire to carryout your wish and make you happy. This they mentioned as “Law of attraction”. Now, when I recall this law, I feel it is fundamentally flawed. My personal experience tells me , if I secretly wish something to happen, however silly the wish may be, the whole universe will make sure to conspire against me, making me wish that I shouldn’t have wished at first place. At the end, a whole lot of things which I don’t wish will crop up.

All I wished was, to be punctual at office by 9 am and be active in the project implementation at 9.30 am. Aspiring to hit office at 9am is a simple appeal and I hadn’t foreseen any practical threat to it. But I was cheated.

The dawn of 5th day of November was not like any other casual Chennai dawns. It was rather different. The grey sky welcomed the morning with heavy rain. Chennai was chill, quite unusually. The climate looked creepy but I consoled myself saying “It is alright. Pleasant climate”. I actively accomplished morning tasks and was soon ready to hop in to the company cab except that it didn’t come. Instead I got a call informing the cab delay. Again I sensed some sinister lurking around me , but I put a brave face and bore it. It happens, I told myself.

After 30 minutes delay, I stepped inside the cab still brooding and calculating the expected time to reach destination. I told my friend , who rather looked pleased on this delay, that I had to hit office doors before 9.30 am, otherwise a fiend in the form of my boss would nail me like a film poster in the street wall. Suddenly my cab driver jerked backwards and grinned.  A kind of grin, you don’t expect from anyone, especially on drivers.

If there exists mutual loathing between any two entities in the world, it is the heavy rain and Chennai roads. When our cab was set to crawl on the water, assuming under which could exist city roads, I started to pray seriously. It was only when we neared the basin bridge, I doubted the “Law of attraction”. I mean, it was the place where I grasped the eternal fact that whole universe was conspiring against me. Quite a lump portion of Chennai’s population were struck, or shall I say submerged, at that landmark. Word wars were wagged everywhere.  People were in the mood to fight and surely not in the aura to pave way for those who wish to attend project meetings at 930am. I first shuddered, then wondered why public were so keen on curbing my office going.  This hadn’t dampened my hope utterly, for I still prayed and insisted universe to instill my wish as stated in that spiritual book. Later it seemed, the universe got the wrong signal.

We managed to creep amidst the crowd, but we were not salvaged. At each traffic signal, there stood all means of transport with the mere intention of blocking me. I stopped sending positive hope to universe. There was no more hope. Reaching to office at 9.30am, then, was like beseeching India to hit 8 runs at last ball of last over at crucial cricket finals.  The drenched Kanden kadhali film poster reminded visions of me getting nailed by my project manager. I withdrew my attention to cab side mirror, where my driver flashed another grin, chewing a bubble gum. Then I understood the grin.

Man plans, God laughs.

‘44C’ – Broadway to I.O.C

Riding in packed Chennai bus is lot tougher than I thought. I have always been one of those reasonably privileged class, who used to go by cab or auto or train or other personal means of transport, who at the traffic signals coolly stare at the mobs of trapped people inside the Chennai city bus and would gasp “ Cha pavam” (Pity !) ” or words to that effect. I had traveled occasionally on city buses, not the usual over-crowded leaning sideways ones, rather on the buses with moderate mass and peaceful driver. Those journeys were not cosy, neither do haunting.

Recent events in my life imposed me to rely on this bus ‘44C’. It was a 1 hour remarkable journey along with infinite number of people in finite space. The bus was thronged at the terminal itself. In the subsequent stops, people who trusted the statement “When there is a will, there is a way”, found a way to shove them inside. I was not lucky to get a seat, neither do the people who got seated were lucky. I mean, One can hardly call the seated passengers as “Lucky”, if every stuff from standers were dumped in their lap and suffocated to death. Here, inside the bus, the pain was mutual and everybody endured it.

There is something I witnessed on the eyes of every resident on the bus, especially on the eyes of driver and conductor. It is the gleam of displeasure and drop of hatred. No one was particularly happy over the trip. I asked the conductor to give me a ticket by showing him 10 rupees note. I think that state of affairs had thrown him to deep distress. He was very upset, in fact angry. My 10 rupees note didn’t help him either. He looked at me sternly with every neck nerve of his straining to bust any time , and barked – What is this ? Eh ? What is this ? Can’t you get exact change (3 Rs 50 paise) for the ticket ? .The co-passengers cooled him down. At last I got my ticket.

Then the ride was adventurous. Amidst this crushing assemblage , I noticed some fascinating humans. The foremost being this big female, about some 170 pounds, who bumped on everyone around her without caring much on how she physically harmed others. Then this lean old lady, not so contented with conductor for not returning her balance cash 50 paise, accused him as “stealer and cheater”. Then this diplomatic disciplined gentleman, who pacified everyone whenever a verbal eruption spurted out. Then this bunch of school boys with their backs mounted by bags of size bigger than themselves, were constantly rebuked by others for pressing their boots on others naked feet. Then this middle aged women who frequently asked every seated passengers the same question that “when-will- you- get- down-so-I-can-sit-on-your-place”. Bunch of college dudes who found the foot-board fascinating , and few other blokes who crawled on bus top, were few others who earned my attention in the course of journey.

The audacious tip ended at last when I hopped out from the bus after an hour. I felt exactly like an knocked out boxing player.

On the way to Pothys

The train stopped at Mabalam Railway station. After me, shoving two ladies inside, and two ladies thrusting me outside, I jumped over the platform hearing a voice which betrayed it was not at all satisfied by the way I chose to land. The voice said – Enna ponnu ithu ippadi poguthu?. I didn’t stand back and reply. Soon some mountain sized females from the compartment landed on me not with any purposeful intention of killing me but just for the sake of getting down from the train. I moved to walk on…No I was moved.

I was moved near to stairway to get out from the station. The magical force behind me slowly pushed me up. I didn’t do anything except watching the progress I made on the stairs and feeling substantial number of feet under my high heels. I didn’t apologize. I also felt significant number of stained shoes and rude high heels over my foot and the sharp pain that followed. I didn’t yell. I stared at the people who started at me with an accusing eye – You are the one with high heels no? I didn’t reply “yes”. I went on.

I reached Ranganathan Street- Yes the very same street which is overly popular for the over population it attracts every day. I started to stroll staring everything and took few steps then I couldn’t move. It didn’t take few seconds to fathom the source of hindrance – a clumsy Saravana stores plastic cover which wrapped my feet with great affectionate. Before I could release that cunning cover with such tenderness I was warmly greeted by a woman – thallu ma! (Move I say!) I moved on only to bump on a middle-aged man, who from his piercing eyes seemed to have taken some special interest on the shirt displayed outside a showroom. I didn’t disturb his dilemma to buy that shirt, only to say “make way for others sir”. Instead I took the other gap which was sufficient for me to enter. Soon I was boorishly blocked by a boy who wants me to go with him to stitch salwar, even though I don’t have the cloth to stitch one. I excused politely and went ahead. All these time, though my mind was indifferent to all the interesting incidents that happened on the way, my eyes were busy with its work – Gazing.

After 40 minutes of tireless eternal pushing from Mambalam Railway station, crossing several Saravana stores and other stores which are not named Saravana, at last I reached Alayam of silk- The Pothys. The Pothys people, who seem to have known the hardship that had to be endured in accessing their stores, placed some over-make-up bearing girls dressed like medieval period queens on the entrance to entertain the crowd. On seeing them, for the first time since jumped out from the train, I laughed.

Advice to readers – “Leave pride, take patience when you go to Pothys via Ranganathan Street”,for you shall preserve the dignity then, otherwise you will end up busy with street fighting on the way which may be entertaining for you or others depending on the circumstances.

Image Courtesy here

A case study of chennaite home

10 years back our residence was like India’s pleasing position on Atlas. India is a peninsula, so was our home. I mean to say, when our house was built, that area lacked the proper drainage system. As a result we were blessed, to do fishing from our compound wall and can see tortoise and snake shows from the corridors. One rainy season, I remember we even planned to launch a ferry service. We are no more privileged, because now surrounded our home are, a primary school ground, “Popular” appalam factory, a Marvadi’s house and yet another house. There is something disturbing in this weird combination of our neighbors which tempted me to do this case study.

my-home

Popular Appalam factory

At one time, this building grabbed the credit for making our home a peninsula instead of island. They were the forerunners of that no-mans-land once. When we were shifted to our new home, the appalam in that appalam factory were our only entertainers. I still remember the days when we (me and my brother) both watched and wondered on the ways used to make that round object-appalam. We were too naïve to grasp the horror of having a factory nearby. Without that appalam factory our home would weigh considerable amount of tons less. Because, the powder from the factory, is penetrating on every inch of our abode. Even my laptop and mobile’s dusty key pads will always remind me of appalam. Quite a curse to keep a mind occupied with appalam but have no choice.

Primary school ground

This playground is a transformation of a water body. It happened only a year back. The place which once entertained water living creatures are now entertaining notorious school kids. The sand filled ground helps to add more injury to my powder filled home. So now no raw fine particles of appalam at my dwelling, instead a classic combination of sand mixed appalam powder dust. The kids in the ground are in fact more dangerous than the dust. They have the obnoxious way of playing and shouting which have the tendency to break our glass windows and ear drums. Sometimes quite entertaining though!

Marvadi’s house

This three storey building renders our single floor home absolutely invisible. Quite a big family with a bunch of bright broods. It is very inevitable to think their family didn’t give a damn about India’s population. At present they are our full time entertainers. Their criminal kids have extraordinary vocal chords and unintentional strong sense of humor. They are perilous than Pakistan terrorist and behave like Pakistan government by denying all their evil doings. Irritated by those kids, once one of our relative scolded them, but those little guys remarked “parunga da patti thitranga?”. My relative was deeply pained by this comment as she believed she can only be called as Aunty and not patti (old lady) .Since then I have been careful with those guys as they are capable of calling me aunty instead of sister. These young fellows have no respect I say !

Yet another house

This building occupied three-fourth of our façade shrinking our entrance entirely. This is actually my periappa’s (dad’s elder brother) house and he rented it to some decent family. The family is so decent that they never care to dwell on the house. So except the existence of the family I don’t know much about their characteristics. From their complete absence I suspect they might be good humans as they have no intention of torturing their neighbors.

It is fun to have a peppy ambience despite some disturbances. It is the very same thing I missed so much on my US Trip.