I found myself this weekend in Chennai, as was won’t, on a whim. The closest metropolis to our beloved Hyderabad, Chennai has changed it’s outward appearance very little in contrast. It is, uncle says, a good measure of the mentalities of the peoples that make up the two places – Chennai absorbs change and Hyderabad adapts to it.
While the summer hadn’t hit the metro with it’s full strength, the muggy weather was certainly present and I felt quite welcome even after so many years. Chennai contributed a lot to my mental makeup through the teens – both when I visited and through it’s denizens who visited me. While any other time I might have joined in with native friends and griped about the Chennai weather, the unfriendliness of the average chennaite (they say if someone is friendly to you they must not be a local) and the general chaos that reigns all over – this time around I surveyed it all fondly feeling that sense of familiarity and belonging that never left me even though I was away for so long.
Chaos is a progenitor of creativity and Chennai’s multitudes have contributed many creative minds to the world collective. Uncle and aunty directed a surprise visit to a local jeweler where I was quite amazed at the roaring business that I am told was actually at an ebb. I can only imagine how it must be at full flow. Once the ring was purchased and we were pleasantly ushered out – Uncle managed to also snare a food processor cover from a footpath (i should really say "middle of the road") hawker who I am sure made more margin on that cover than the jeweler did on the ring. The conversation went thus:
Uncle (with a nonchalant expression): How much is this cover?
Hawker (an even more nonchalant expression): 35 rupees
Uncle (surprised look): Whoa. How about 15?
Hawker (Annoyance): 34
Uncle (in a hurry): Fine
I was also very relieved to see that the cutout mania had not subsided in chennai. Added to the multi storeyed cutouts of film actors and politicians I was proud to see businesses and entrepreneurial/technology ventures catching up in both frequency and size.
Once I got to the airport (proudly proclaiming itself an ISO 9000:2001 airport) I had a bunch of time to kill thanks to a flight delay. Here – I found a neat little contraption rigged up by one of the mobile providers: