For me Bombay has always been home. If anyone asks me “favourate city” I say Bombay in a heartbeat. There are several reasons I am attached to the city, apart from the fact that it always spells out home. So recently I was myself stumped (discombobulated, googly-ed, startled senseless out of my wits) when someone asked my what’s my favourate city and I said “Chennai”.

There was silence, the kind associated with a patriarch revealing incestuous facts of a family. Friends opened mouths and forgot to close them, others looked at me and wondered if the flu hit my brain and as for myself I sat in a quiet daze of shock still ruffled at the alacrity and the gall of my response. Later that night I took in a deep breath and came out of the proverbial closet. To myself first, then to family and friends. It was true I liked Chennai, ok loved. Yes I had always had these aberrant desires. No it wasn’t my parent’s fault I assured them. It must be the trauma of a scarring childhood experience my wise counselors sighed and concluded. Maybe it is.

Vacation for me always meant gallivanting off to the south by whatever means of transport available. And vacations were never complete without Chennai. The city played host to me several time a year, lulled me to sleep on lazy summer days, fed my appetites on breezy evenings and watched me grow with a matronly eye. As a kid, and a Bombayite I hated Chennai. I wanted to Gestapo the auto-karans, outlaw Saravana Bhavan and revamp the Marina into a mega-mall. No one travelled by trains, buses ahd alphabets and no one spoke indhi. And yet I unfailingly visited the city, my visits held together by a gaggle of endearing relatives and affectionate grandparents.

Very much like the prodigal son coming home, slow realization dawned on me. Like the first soft rays of dawn that broke over the Bay of Bengal, like the subtle aroma of coffee assaulting nostrils, like the gentle whiff of malli on a hot summer’s day. Every time I visited the city I was hit by a wave of nostalgia and a realization of returning to something inherently comfortable. Chennai did not have Bombay’s sense of acceptance or Bombay’s kill to get to the top attitude, but Chennai felt different, felt like home.

Childhood remembrances are important clues to personality traits my psychiatric friend says. If ever mine was analyzed there would be an entire kaleidoscope of images. Of Mylapore in the mornings, T. Nagar in the evenings. Of going up and down the 1A with cousins, running on the endless expanse of sand on Marina and a thousand other inconspicuous, innocuous memories all of which climax into a giant snowball of emotions leading to lumpy throats and misted visions.

So there. I’m coming out on my blog now. I love Chennai, I think it rocks and I’m proud of it.



Filed under chennai, city, home, mumbai, travel

21 responses to “Home

  1. kusub

    1. Whoa…I am one of those mouth wide open ppl! Have u been chatting too much with gradwolf?:P So whats bbay now? "Like the first soft rays of dawn that broke over the Bay of Bengal, like the subtle aroma of coffee assaulting nostrils" — lovely!

  2. Gradwolf

    this was long time coming wasn't it!?And I am not even mentioned. I showed you one of the best sides of Chennai including one serious competitor to Saravana Bhavan 😛

  3. Liberal

    Well, haven't been to Chennai at a discerning age, so all I remember is the heat!I should go there someday!Nice writeup

  4. chocoliciousgal

    * sighs, rolls eyes,sighs resignedly and smiles * 🙂 :)Your back in form…very well written.'Very much like the prodigal son coming home, slow realization dawned on me.'…besh besh 🙂

  5. maxdavinci

    ah the prodigical son has come home and written something worthwhile!welcome my dear frnd…

  6. swatimala

    well written…but m still surprised by ur point of view

  7. Anonymous

    Funny that I should come across this blog while looking for idli recipes at 11:25 on a Saturday morning. And then see GradWolf mentioned here, who I know in the virtual world. –Salma.

  8. RukmaniRam

    replace bombay with dehli and marina with elliots, and I'm coming out on your blog too.

  9. Srividya

    "Very much like the prodigal son coming home …" – a bit extreme don't you think? 😀 But glad you settled in on one place. 😀

  10. Nandini Vishwanath

    Don't talk to some people too much. Come, talk to me, kanna.

  11. Foreign Desi

    Haha im totally jealous that you get to visit Chennai every holiday! I just havne't had the time to get to know the city!

  12. maami

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm…Though I guessed you are a Chennai boy at heart, though a Bombay boy in attitude.@ Mistah Wolf- care to show me the sights of Chennai next time around?

  13. aditi

    omg…too much chennai effect ..u have cousins n " namma bengaluru " too right ?come here and i shall show u the best of chicks….

  14. Karthikk

    "Like the first soft rays of dawn that broke over the Bay of Bengal, like the subtle aroma of coffee assaulting nostrils, like the gentle whiff of malli on a hot summer’s day"ahem.. ahem.. agreed.. nothing can beat some things in TN… the freshness in temples… the lovely smell of vibhuti all around… all said and done, forget the filter coffee and get back to starbucks 🙂

  15. padmaja

    that was a great read! and of course chennai rocks!!! (at least to me, who's never lived elsewhere!)

  16. gaea

    Wow, that was evocative! loved reading your post, even though it is about a city i barely know…

  17. dharmabum

    it sure does rock!

  18. vitruvian

    Chennai….You traitor!!But really well written… Nice piece..

  19. varali

    Welcome to the fold.

  20. Cynic in Wonderland

    its weird isnt it? how genes or what have you will come out. the older i get, the more i start sounding like my mother, the more i start behaving like the community i come from… must be somethng like that. you can keep the boy out of chennai, but you cant keep the chennai out of the boy?

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