Monday, August 22, 2005

Madras's Birthday

Madras's birthday. That's the headline in every blog today. I thought, I too would write something about the Madras I know.

I don't know any history about Madras other than that it was renamed as Chennai in the not so distant past. I don’t know much geography about Madras other than that it has the second largest beach in the world. I have been to only one Marghazi festival and don’t know much about the stuff they sing.

So I would rather talk about the Madras I know about. My recent visits to Madras have all been filled with lots of romantic episodes. I sorta long to visit Madras these days.

But in my childhood days, we used to visit Madras during my summer holidays. My Uncles were staying there. So we'd come here to madras to spend our holidays. My holidays would be spent in the small colonies of velachery and in my Mama's industry at ThiruViKa Industrial Estate. I would roam around my Mama's industry alone, gazing at the Lathes and other Machinery.

Two of my Mamas were staying in Madras and one back in my village. Our summer holidays used to alternate between these two places. Madras wasn't like our village which had lotsa ponds, rivers, green rice fields, coconut trees and the outta my brains reach adventurous Village kids. Madras was more of loneliness and regular visits to my uncle's industry.

The only consolation was my other Uncle, the younger one. He was single at that time. And since I was a kid, I was allowed to visit his privacy which no one in our household ever dared to. He was called an eccentric in our house hold. He read Balakumaran, other books which I don’t rememebr, talked philosophy with his friends, and watched all sorta movies in all sorta languages that came to Madras. I was allowed in all of them. I was usually the silent observer of his talks with his friends, the out of age company for the movies he went. My first Malayalam movie happened there. It was Lal Salaam, if I remember it properly.

He had this habit of having someone scratch his back when he was to sleep. Scratch seems a harsher word. But the act was lighter than that. So we would sleep in his room, with him often cajoling me to scratch his back and listening to old kannadhasan's philosophical classics. They some how still stay in me. I can say that he inspired me into books very early in my life.

Some incidents like my first experience with a television and my first look of Rajinikanth's house happened then. I still remember out visits to the Saravana Bhavan. It was very new for us then, we used to talk about the astounding taste of the food there. At times, I skipped our dinner at home and pushed my Mama to take me there.

Then new kids came into our household and I and my mama became distant. I spent my time with the other kids. I remember our visit to vandalur zoo, vgp and mamallapuram. Losing a shoe in Marina and falling into mamallapuram beach to be helped out by your appa might have happened to everyone, but they remain etched in my mind as some thing for ever. Snake park and Childrens park were our all time favourites then.

Things started falling apart in our family and our summer holidays were taken away from us without our consent. After that visiting Madras has been very rare.

I remember visiting Madras when I went for my IIT Entrance Coaching Contact Programme. I felt bored of the class after an hour and went out to see Speed in Woodlands. I still claim Speed to be the best action film I’ve ever watched. I remember climbing a bus on the run for the first time, after the movie. I probably thought myself to be Keanu Reeves. Somehow that incident remains in my head still.

After that it all became college-home-college. After college, it has been somewhat regular visiting Madras. All my friends moved to Madras, and I moved to Noida. It became an once in a year trip and it was a trip we always longed for. Delhi and Noida were two very dry places for my needs. I somehow used to long for Tamil Movies, Tamil Music, Tamil Books, the place and the crowds.

Coming home was always a great happiness for me. I would stand in the train by the door and smile at the sight of the first rice field, first coconut tree, and first Tamil cinema poster. Madras was the entry point then to get to south India. I used to spend my first few days of the holiday there, spending my time with friends. Those days were always scheduled, with friends being informed prior to my visit and all the plans of all roaming previously etched out. Elliot’s beach replaced Trichy's Rockfort for our talks. I became the normal Chennai guy to visit Spencer’s, Satyam and all the usual places everyone visits to spend time there. They are the places where the crowd turnout and they are the places which somehow keeps me going.

Madras these days has been funfair, My visit brings all my friends to Praveen’s house. Praveen’s appa even complains that all these people visit them only if I go. And my time with them always leaves me longing to visit Madras as often as I could, As it leaves me longing now.

Happy Birthday Madras.

1 comment:

Harland Jaques said...

I read an interesting article on it I would like to share with you...