Alright folks. It’s finally up! Time to put up details of my Chennai crusade!!
Took advantage of the three day weekend last time and headed out to Chennai to catch up with some very good friends. It is kind of ironic actually. At one point I used to have more friends in Bangalore and love the city as well but today there are very few of them there and Chennai suddenly has a lot of ’em together!
The trip had been planned about a month in advance but I could confirm my tickets only two days before the trip. Glad it didn’t get cancelled last minute. Kanagu would have had a fit… I’ve never seen anyone follow up trip details with so much perseverance!! Hats off!
I had asked all my friends as to what do I bring when I come down. Most of them said nothing. One of my friends suggested bringing a certain Balls-Talk-Rey’s protege so that he could do choicest stuff to him. I said unfortunately I don’t know his mobile number so can’t help it
Reached Chennai one fine Saturday afternoon. After the fast paced life of Delhi/Mumbai, in Chennai I felt as if somebody had pulled the brakes of a fast moving train and then asked me to get down and walk in slow motion! Life pace is easy and relaxed, people are patient. I keep forgetting it’s a metro city… there is always a world of difference between north and south India. And this coming from a South Indian herself! I need to visit my hometown more often!
I began with moving to stay with my best friend and her husband, whose wedding I had missed. After a hearty lunch she fed me (made by her own hands – she insisted she had been waiting to experiment her cooking on me!), all of us went to the nearby Besant Nagar beach for a stroll, had some yummy chilli baji and washed it down with some soan papdi to kill the spice. The sea looked lovely by the moonlight and unlike Kerala, beaches were quite crowded with family crowds even after sunset.
On walking back, I spotted some palmists/astrologers sitting at the beach front. My friend’s husband suggested I go in for it. I hesitated, pooh-pooing it, and then realised I need some entertainment in life. So we went ahead and sat down crosslegged before the lady with the parrot, who looked delighted to find her next prey. My Tamil is fairly decent though nothing great but she spoke in such heavy Tamil that even my friend who is fluent in the langauge had trouble translating it!
She started off with a classic statement: ‘you should have been born as a guy’.
Me: Er… what?
If my parents had heard they’d shush her up and say that my matrimonial prospects have gone for a toss!
The rest of her predictions were pretty routine. I am a smooth-talker, I am confident, I am the apple of the eye of my parents, I am stubborn, I need to visit my ancestral temple if I need my marriage to happen quickly (really? No thanks!) and so on.
When we decided to set out from the beach, it was pretty dark. Worse, none of us knew which bus to take. So we kept asking people and ended up taking the long route home, skipping methods of travelling including bus, auto and walking! The first stretch home was taken in a bus and the latter half in a Chennai share auto which was an awesome comedy trip!
The first time I saw it I did a little double take. Ok what was this – double decker autos? I complained. I’ve seen share autos in Gurgaon, but never used them. This was my first time! [For those not accustomed to the two-tier sitting in these autos, please talk to people who’ve lived in Chennai, they’ll tell you how the seats are arranged in two rows, just like in a movie theatre]
Finally we got into one of those – us plus 5 other people all crammed in. And then autodriver began to drive back like a madman with us hanging on for dear life. My friend who was sitting on the extreme right, would jump each time a bus overtook the auto because it came too close for comfort!
Her take on this?: “I feel like I’m sitting down and skateboarding on wheels!”
I started laughing on hearing this.
“Are you going to put this on your blog post? Has this inspired you enough?” she asked. I grinned and said of course! Little did I know that was just the beginning!
We stopped at a traffic signal. A bus came right next to the side of my auto where my friend was sitting. She paused and contemplated a moment: “If it comes a little closer I can squeeze out through the right side opening of the auto and climb into the bus. There are enough seats inside that atleast!!”
The day ended on a great note with some yummy filter coffee and ghee masala dosa from Murugan’s Idly Shop which is a chain of restaurants in Chennai serving authentic south Indian stuff. Next time I’d ask for a plain roast dosa instead of a ghee roast… considering the amount of ghee in it. In fact if I squeeze out the ghee and sell it separately, I can earn enough for my daily living from it! LOL. But all said and done…it was delish! Definitely not to be missed!
The next day began with meeting one of my oldest best friends who’s now married and has a baby. We hung out for till late afternoon, but unfortunately the visit was dampened by the condition at his home. His washing machine caught fire from an electrical short (yes you read it right… the WASHING machine caught fire) and his home was in a mess. Fortunately my friend and family were not harmed, although the house was in shambles. Worse, this happened 2 days before I was supposed to land up. I remember the last time I visited one of my cousins, her kitchen caught fire the day I landed up. Why do I have this effect on circumstances? :-/ Sigh…
But on a positive note, had good fun catching up with him. My friend is a Mallu Christian married to a Bengali Hindu. Clash of civilisations, cultures and religions. But talk about a perfect marriage! Touchwood! His 1 year old son is an absolute cutie pie btw God bless!
Then finally that evening I set out for my grand meeting with kanagu!
We were supposed to meet at Adyar Bus Depot. I took a cab from my friend’s place. The cab guy took me halfway till Adyar and then was like, where do I drop you? I got confused.
Me: I told you, Adyar Bus Depot!
He: Still, where exactly near it?
Having only a vague idea of the place, and not wanting to show him that, I got myself dropped off near a police station landmark and called up kanagu.
Me: “I am standing outside the police station.”
Kanagu (shocked): “What!!”
Me: “Sigh…. I am standing OUTSIDE it, not inside. It’s for a landmark.”
Kanagu (sounding relieved): “Oh!! Hehe!! Cool, I’ll see you in 10 mins”
I waited patiently. After awhile of standing there like an idiot, I started walking up the road, looking at shops and places. A little while later, kanagu calls.
Me: I am waiting near Adyar Bus Depot on Lattice Bridge Road, opposite the police station
Kanagu: Um… I am standing at Adyar Bus Depot. But I don’t see you or any police station!! Where are you?
Me: Er… the traffic police guy told me this is the right one..
Kanagu: Ok I don’t know where you are. Let me try to find out.
This took about 15 mins until he found me. Later we came to know there were two bus depots on parallel roads with the same name!!
Kanagu (big grin): Hehe! Now I’ve also learnt this fact! I used to think where you were standing was NOT part of Adyar at all !! In fact I was looking around, wondering if you would be following me like you did with Crafty!
Kanagu and I went shopping for a little browsing around for a gift for Vimmuuu from our end. We entered Odeyssey – a book shop cum gift shop behind Adyar Bus Depot.
There we made fun of every possible gift on display.
Kanagu: “Why do they make coffee cups of this size?? You won’t be able to finish drinking from it !!”
Me: Hey be careful with those. Haven’t you heard of the saying, good to see nice to hold, once broken, consider sold!
Kanagu (giggling): What is the use of buying them once it is broken?
Me: Er… hmm… well you got a point there!
There were these weird looking Valentine’s Day gifts on the rack.
Me: What are these? Valentine’s Day leftovers?
Kanagu (staring at 2 cup which crisscrossed to form a heart): My God! You will keep drinking coffee forever from these cups. You won’t be able to finish only!
By that time we had both cracked up uncontrollably and half the shop had turned to watch the comedy act.
Finally we somehow managed to get out after getting a gift.
Me: So where do we go? CCD?
Him (determinedly): No way! No more CCD! We are going with the winds of change! We won’t go there!
Me (grinning): Oh my! Ok, if you insist!
So with Kanagu marching ahead and me following like a puppy, we headed to Adyar Bakery where we feasted on egg puffs and chocolate milkshake and icecream! Yay!
We were mentioning about how Uma and Anish unfortunately could not make it and how Vimal was stuck with relatives/in-laws visiting his place that day and could not make it either. We were discussing how and whether marriage changes an individual.
Out of the blue, in the same tone as if he is asking about the weather that morning:
Kanagu: When is your marriage?
I choked on my egg puff and stared at him before bursting into laughter.
Me: Don’t give me shocks like that! You are asking with the casualness asking what colour is the sky!
Kanagu (grinning sheepishly): The topic was similar hence started on that!
Before leaving, kanagu called up Anish and gave the phone to me. I was able to talk to him only for a few minutes, because it was already time to leave by then.
Sometimes you run into jerks in life. And then you run into gems like kanagu who remind you that the world doesn’t have bad ppl alone God bless!
He accompanied me to buy gifts for some of my other friends, and surprised me by presenting me an early birthday present, wishing me my bday in advance. I felt like a prize jerk for forgetting his birthday which was already past and on top of that not bringing him a gift from Mumbai because I didn’t know what to get. Finally after the meeting was over (it was hard shaking him off my tail coz he was determined to be caring and chivalrous and drop me off till my cab), I had to go all the way to the end of road, wait till he left then take a U-turn and come back to buy a gift for him. But I did, and presented it to him the next day! Kanagu, I’m glad you enjoyed that movie DVD!
That night I met up with another of my childhood friends who had landed up in Chennai unexpectedly. Had a delicious Kerala dinner from Kumarakom restaurant in Adyar before retreating back home for a fitful sleep.
The next major event was of course meeting Vimal. When kanagu and I met up the next moring, Vimal was still snoring in bed.
I had been trying him since the night before and there had been no response. Finally kanangu called him and he called back. After giving him the choicest abuses for not meeting up with both me and kanagu together, we had the meeting time postponed to lunchtime.
Vimal (all dopey eyed and voice cracked from just waking up): Shall we meet up in Nugumbakkam since it’s close enough for both of us?
Me: OK fine where do we meet?
No prizes for guessing this one, folks
Vimal: CCD !
Me: Oof! Not again! You and your grandmother’s CCD!
Vimal (thinking hard): Nope my grandmother doesn’t run it, sorry!
Kanagu had to leave for work, hence declined from this outing.
I eventually went home, packed up my stuff and went with that to meet Vimal since I would need to go to the airport straight after that.
On the way, he kept calling me about a dozen times asking where I was. Now that he was up and refreshed and awake, he seemed in a hurry to meet up. Finally when he knew that I had to go back and pack my stuff, he changed the location closer to where I was so that it would be easier for me.
A little while later, he called.
Him: Yea ok. We have reached.
Me: Ok. Huh? Wait a minute!! “We”???
Him: (Shit!) I mean “I” of course! Now where have you reached?
Me (light dawning): Omg! Laxmi is with you??
Him: Just will you tell me where you are!
Me: So you wanted it to be a surprise and brought her eh?
Him: No I haven’t! Now tell me where you are!
Me: I am reaching in 10 mins. Wait.
Finally I landed up at Dhaba Express. Vimal came out to greet me oustide. We both went inside, and Vimal said dramatically: ta-daah!
It was a bit of surprise since I wasn’t sure whether or not she would be there. But if he hadn’t given out the clue with the ‘we’ in the conversation, it would have been a pretty big surprise. I met up with Mrs Laxmi Vimal for the first time that day. As compared to that chimpanzee (Vimal, pls refer to your post – you yourself compared it), Laxmi looks like a cute little doll… I can vouch for it!
We met up and exchanged pleasantries. The lunch meeting turned out to be a whole lot of fun, since as Vimal himself has claimed: theirs is a 24/7 cartoon network. Laxmi and I joined hands to pull Vimal’s leg like there was no tomorrow.
I’m not sure which joke it was, but Laxmi said something and then:
Vimal (to Laxmi): Omg! Don’t say all that! She’ll put it up on the post!
Me: I hadn’t actually conisdered, but now that you’ve given me the idea I’m going to of course! [That was the beginning.]
Finally lunch meeting over, we stepped out and moved towards Vimal’s bike.
And that is where it all began. I pulled out my camera. The first shot was of me and Laxmi which Vimal took. That went fine. The second one I took was of His Highness (who pretended to look at the sky) and his wife. Vimal proceeded to take the camera from my end to examine the pic and I being the idiot I was, gave it to him. He then claimed he looked bad in the pic and tried to delete it. I gave a start and tried to snatch it back from him. A tussle ensued for 5 seconds, after which he dropped the camera in the ensuing tussle. I ran to take it and examine it. The lens cover was unable to retract properly. End result: no more pics (although the existing pics were there in the memory card).
Me (in rage): @#$%^&**!!!! (Censored)
Vimal cringed and hid behind Laxmi.
I lunged after him and he ran round and round his wife screaming: “Don’t beat me don’t beat me!” and I chased him all the more furiously. After 2 mins of both of us running merry-go-round in 360 degrees around Laxmi, Vimal broke free and ran towards the exit gate.
Me (staring at him furiously): Kalari parambara daivangalaney… ithinu pakaramayi ninne blog post-il naattichillengil , enne dha ingane ingane vilicho!
[Translated: “I swear upon our legendary Kalari (martial arts) Gods, I will have taken revenge for this by embarassing you from head to toe on the blog post!” ]
Vimal: What?? It’s not my fault. You dropped it !!
Me (growl): Trying to delete pics from MY camera and then when I try to take it back, you start dancing and in the hulabuloo the camera falls down and you have the nerve to say it’s NOT YOUR FAULT??!!!
Me (to Laxmi): This is where you turn a widow. Hope you don’t mind.
Laxmi (cheerfully): Of course not! Go ahead!
[See? This where my respect for her doubled instantly!! ]
I proceeded to chase him and Vimal ran for his life. I would move ahead, he would run off to the gate. Then I’d come back to stand near Laxmi, and then he would slowly move back. This happened for 6 times AT A STRETCH.
Me: Give me the camera
Vimal: Promise you won’t beat me and I’ll come near you to give it.
Me (to Laxmi in disbelief): Jesus Christ! You married a man or a mouse?
Laxmi looked at him with a pathetic expression on her face: “Enikkanu naanakedu ippo! [Translated: I am the one suffering the embarrassment now!]”
Finally in the end, we examined the camera. Vimal, to his credit, tried to fiddle around with the lens and retract it, but to no effect. He returned the camera to me and I stood next to him.
Me: Please na! One beating… won’t hurt you…really!
Vimal (shrinks back): Pleaseeee adikalle! (Don’t beat me!)
I got annoyed. What kind of a world was this? I asked him permission even to beat him up and he refused! I got fed up, took his bike keys in revenge and walked off with it.
Vimal (bravely): No problem. I will roll this back home.
He actually sat on the bike and started moving it forward by pushing it with both feet.
By then people around were staring at us.
Laxmi walked behind him patiently with a funny expression on her face that distinctly seemed to say: “What was I thinking when I said ‘yes’ to him?”
He rolled the bike literally while sitting on it, using his feet as if he is a kid learning to balance the bicycle first time round. He moved about 15 feet and stopped in exhaustion, panting.
Vimal (puppy expression on his face): “Pls give me back the keys!”
Finally I gave him and I said something to the effect of ‘useless guy’.
He mumbled under his breath, now that he had gotten the keys, ‘useless ninte thantha (your dad)’!
Unfortunatley for him I heard it and caught him back by the collar of his shirt in fury.
Vimal (in panic): Omg! I mean ente thantha, ente thantha (my dad, my dad), not yours!! See? Now let me go!
Finally the meeting got over. I had to leave to meet my friend for a tour of IIT Chennai (which I did right afterwards – amazing campus!) and proceeded towards the airport.
People, two instances which I would like to particularly point out.
Vimal, me and Laxmi stepped out of the restaurant after lunch. He looked at her once we were out. We were conversing about how hot it is in Chennai and an airconditioner is more of a necessity than a luxury, when out of the blue:
Vimal (looking at Laxmi): You are starting to get pimples/rashes on your face because of the heat eh?
Laxmi: Yea true… what all do I have to suffer when I marry you?
I bit back an amused smile. The guy who hates flowers has now turned observant enough to observe small pimples under the eyes of his beloved wife. Talk about absolute metamorphosis!!!
Vimal took the first photo (of me and Laxmi) and then paused to hum in Malayalam looking at his wife:
“Enthu bhangi ninne kaanan ente omalale!” [a song in Malayalam which roughly translates to ‘how beautiful you look my dear one’]. I stared at him in surprise. This can’t be him!! lol
I’m sure he would go blue in the face denying it and say he meant it in sarcasm of course But I’m not completely convinced. That was just a compliment veiled in pretend-sarcasm.
People, he has completely gone head over heels. There’s no going back now!!
Rakesh was right… he is the cockroach who has flipped and rolled over and after getting hit by the Baygon spray!! He’s a goner. Another one down I guess. Sigh…
And that, signified the end of a beautiful Chennai trip. Summer hadn’t hit yet, so the heat was quite manageable. I’m sure it would grow far far worse in April-May. But I still hope to come down and catch up with everyone later.
Touchwood for friendships and happy marriages (which helped erase my skepticism a bit)!
P.S.: Sad news. Donations invited for buying new camera. The old one has lost a part and unfortunately cannot be reassembled