Coming back home to Chennai

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“Chennai is too laid back and conservative for my taste. I can’t imagine being in such a dull city,” said a friend who’d come down from Mumbai. In fact, he said it every single time he made a visit here. And, I’m quite sure if I look up on the internet, I’ll find at least five blogs written about why, on the contrary, Chennai is an awesome place to be in or about how North Indians or people brought up in the North have a stereotyped and often, narrow-minded view of the city.

But, keeping aside all that, if you ask me, I’d say, what makes a city beautiful is the memories we hold from the years we’ve lived there. That’s why, Chennai to me is a place I call home. It’s a city that nurtured my childhood, watched me fail and get up again, and in all glory, shaped me into what I am today.

Chennai to me is the memory of my early childhood, when I ran back home to Nanganallur to the unconditional love from my grandparents, when every single day, without fail, I would find a bowl of fresh pomegranate stocked in the fridge, new things to discover in my grandfather’s desk draw, new games to play with a colony full of friends, and a new bedtime story from an epic.

Chennai to me is the memory of my high school days, when I spent the evenings sitting on the sidewalk at Besant Nagar beach with my best friend and watched the world go by, when I saved up a whole week’s pocket money and eagerly bought a creamy cake from the Royal Bakery, when birthdays meant pooling in a handful of money and buying a greeting card and pencil pouch from Words & Worths, and when the best way to boost our egos was to get our friends to fill fancy slam books.

Chennai to me is during my college days, when I first experienced the feeling of spending three years in an all girls campus, when I sat up till 3.30 in the morning on a conference call with friends, fine tuning my class project, when 10 Downing Street was the most talked about, -had-to-be-there-and-do-that pub, when 29C (an empty one in that) was a life saviour, and when a snack at Mary Brown or Subway was the coolest hangout destination.

Chennai to me is the memory of my first job, when I travelled to Egmore every single day, waiting to make my mark in the company, when I gathered with my friends outside the sandwich shop, waiting to sink my teeth into the hot, spicy, egg sandwiches, when going out meant a dinner at Dhaba Express or Little Italy, when weekend meant party at Dublin or Zaras, and when festivals meant going to the Mylapore Kapaleeshwarar temple.

It’s been close to 14 years since I moved into this city. From not knowing the language at all to taking shelter in the warmth of the city that holds memories of a decade of my life, Chennai, to me, will always be a place I call home.

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Since you’re on Facebook now and saw this, you might as well read it

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Before I start, I’d like you try this small experiment. When you’re walking on the road, just once, unplug your earphones, keep your gadgets in your bag, look up, and walk.

I bet you faced at least one of these circumstances.

1. You were suddenly very aware of your surroundings. As silly as it sounds, you felt as though you’ve woken up from a dream to a little too much happening around you. – I know, vehicles zooming past you and people walking along side you can cause panic.

2. You noticed a small (surprisingly, resourceful) store at the end of a street you zoomed past every single day, and wondered how long it’s been there.

3. If you had to cross a road, you hesitated at least for a few seconds, because, let’s accept it, earphones plugged in with loud music make it so much easier to achieve a herculean task!

Keeping in check the threat of sounding ‘ancient’ and ‘clichéd’, I can’t help but be amused by how gadgets have made us their slaves. That’s right, I did say we are its slaves. If you think about it, a large chunk of our conversations happen on a device. When we think about someone, the first thing we remember is their latest Facebook, Instagram or Twitter profile picture – so much so that we almost fail to recognise them when we meet them in person (Oh and blame the photo effects on every phone that make us look supernaturally attractive!). And, we share the best and worst moments of our life, even something as trivial as, “I jumped across a pothole today, Yay!’ or ‘I slammed the phone on my boyfriend now. *Feeling angry*’, online. (P.S. I bet when each of you reads such a status, you have Uncle Scrooge saying, “Bah! Humbug!” in your head).

I believe we’ve all successfully come to a stage where, when we are sitting across someone and actually listening to what the other person is saying (Oh! The horror of it!), we’ll be judged as friendless, lifeless, ill-read (Seriously, you just missed an entire minute of twitter news feed), and boring person.

So, bearing in mind the threat of sounding like my Grandma (again), I think we should keep aside our gadgets at least for an hour a day and take in reality (in all its beauty). (Now, don’t act smart and tell me you can do that when you’re asleep. I mean when you’re wide awake). When you do something as simple as sit on the beach and listen to the waves gushing to and fro or, share a smile with a stranger on the road, an unbelievable sense of contentment fills within you. And that, my friend, even your smartest, closest to human emotion gadget cannot give.

And, for all that you’ve lost in the artificial world in that hour, just call Google. They’ll give you enough and more information about what your friends are upto.

Finally, for all those who haven’t seen it yet, check out this beautiful video that pretty much encapsulates all that I’ve ranted on about, in this post.

 

You Should Fall For Someone Who Doesn’t Love You

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Thought Catalog

It occurred to me the other day that there might be people in this world who have never known unrequited love, have never fallen for someone who didn’t fall too.

I know it’s rarer than a solar eclipse, but it seems likely that some have managed it; people who married their high school sweetheart, who got it right on the first try, who were seemingly born with enough innate confidence to walk right up to the object of their affection and say, “I think you’re great, would you like to go on a date sometime” and whose confidence was rewarded with a resolute, “Absolutely, I’d love to” and a Happily Ever After. The rest of us would be inclined to murder a couple like this if we ever came across them, but I maintain that they are the ones who are missing out. Everyone should fall for someone who doesn’t…

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Brace yourselves for TamBrahm Arranged Marriage Version Gen-Y

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Though enough’s been said and read about the idea of Tambrahm arranged marriages, you just can’t fill the funny, funny void that it has created. I tell you, there’s something fundamentally un-Tambrahmish about arranged marriages today…

1. You meet ‘prospective life partners’ in an ultra cool matrimony networking site. Don’t laugh. It’s cool ok. I have facts to back up my justification.

No hacker can NEVER download your lakshanamaana photo and misuse it! I wonder why they would take it from a matrimony site, but still, let’s give you the benefit of doubt.

2. Oh and every boy or girl is a non-smoker, non-drinker, religious, earns well, will swear to love the future partner until death do them apart and is ‘funny, smart and handsome’. Now, now, I understand if you feel intimidated and loserly.

3. I swear, women spend more time deciding which profile is ‘suitable’ more than they spend time shopping.

4. Go on a normal day and try telling your parents you’d like to date someone…

You tell first. I’ll pray for you.

BUT, in an arranged marriage, you have the freedom to talk to as many, go on multiple dates, talk day-in and day-out, bring home heart-holding teddy bears and show it to smiling parents and, still say ‘No’ and escape pannify at any point of time. No questions asked.

5. God forbid your parents get involved in your ‘first date.’ They’d say, “Paaru andha payyan blazer pottundu smart ah vara poran, Edhavadhu fashionable ah dress podu di”.

This is exactly when you have those flashback moments.

No sleeveless to work, kannu padum.

No ‘midi-skirt’ to meet friends, road la kannu padum.

No dresses to parties. Kalyanamaana pasanga ellam irupa. Kudumbathula kozhapam undaagum! (??!!)

No shorts at home. Vayasu pasanga flat la iruka!

6. Anyway, moving on…today the girl’s/ boy’s parents don’t vijarichufy with pakathu aathu and yethaathu about you. They surusuruppa ‘check you out’ on Facebook. That’s why naa appove sonen,’Keep calm and pray to Umachi’ profile photo vaa maathu nu. Nee ketiya? Ippo anubavi.

7. There are kaadhu ku inimaiyaana moments in your life when a maami suddenly comes and tells your mom, indha kaalathu ponnunga ellam 26 la thane kalyaanam panra. Enna avasaram unaku? Konjam freeeya iruka viden? Now don’t ask me if they were being sarcastic or genuinely meant it. I’m clueless. Anything’s possible. Anything.

8. This is heights of hypocrisy. Before wedding you just HAVE TO wake up early morning, vaasal thelichu kolam potufy, know how to cook Tambrahm saapadu and get home by 9 PM. Why? Because andha imaginary maamiyar and payyan ku seri varaadhu! Post wedding: You get sloshed and end up in a zoo, turn into a hippie, go bald, live under a bridge, pierce your eyebrows, they don’t care. Because adhu ‘un kudumba prachana”.

9. Oh and top it all off, “En ponnu nalla paaduva. Cinema paatu kuda paaduva!”

Thus, the hilarity ensues. To my fellow Tambrahms, Keep calm and really, pray to Umachi.

The New Year resolution: 12 things I discovered in my 20s that’ll last a lifetime

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There’s something about New Years that gives you a fresh lease of life, a second chance to give a shot at life again. A chance to forget the past and create a future you always wanted. Maybe that’s why, a lot of us look at the year gone by and religiously make a list of things we missed out on and want to do, in the year ahead. In simple words, we make resolutions. I did too, for many years. But then, for a person who is hardly a disciplinarian, it was a mammoth task to make it last even for a week.

So, this year, for a change, I decided to look back at 2013 (in the hope that fate doesn’t have any big surprises in the last 5 days), and list down things that I learnt from the whirlwind of a year. Things that I’ll probably carry to my deathbed. Of course, with the possibility that this list will grow by the years.

  1. Despite being confronted with several circumstances, we still don’t know when to say a firm no, when to say a yes or when to forgive. Somehow, there’s always an element of doubt.
  2. It’s a fact. We brag about how we don’t care about what others think about us. We stand tall. We stand proud. But, even the most optimistic among us has a tinge of unshakeable insecurity. And, it takes conviction beyond imagination to not let it affect us.
  3. Our parents were always right, especially, about the kind of friends we had right from kindergarten until now. They sensed the trouble-kind like a bloodhound long ago, while we took a hit and went running back to them years later, just to hear them say, “I told you so.”
  4. Oh, and they know exactly what we do and how messed up we are. They just don’t confront us.
  5. We wake up one day and realise, we can literally count the number of friends we are truly comfortable being around. We panic, yes. But, at some level, we prefer to spend time with those few who know us inside out.
  6. While on this subject, we realise it takes tremendous effort to keep in touch with those select few. But, we are willing to go ten extra miles to do exactly that!
  7. Hangovers are not fun anymore. Our legs start weighing down on us even before the stroke of midnight, and we yearn to go back to that wonderful, wonderful bed at home.
  8. Whether we care to admit it or not, when we see our closest friends bear a child, the first signs of growing old and becoming adults hits us like a storm. Of course, not fashionably so.
  9. When we were in our teens, we could hardly relate to someone who was even two years older than us. Somehow, we were the more awesome know-it-alls’. Enter mid-20s – we have that shocking revelation that most of our friends are at least two to three years older than us. And the best part? We prefer to be around them at most times.
  10. All the things that mattered to us in a ‘dateable person’ seem insignificant and immature now. And what we look for in them now? Well, there’s no list. None whatsoever.
  11. For all those of us who make or used to make diary entries in our early and late teens, when we read it now, we can’t help but laugh at the trivial concerns we had as kids! And now, we begin to wonder if the troubles we have now will seem insignificant to what we would be facing in a decade. And that, my friend, is scary!
  12. Finally, we oh so miss the summer vacations, when we watched Cartoon Network day in and day out, played in the blazing heat with friends and when the biggest worry was to show our report cards to our parents! We’d give anything to trade lives with a five-year old.