I know what you are thinking… It has taken me far too long to read this book. A book which is about my favorite place on earth – Chennai. A book written by someone associated with my favorite publication – The Hindu.
I want to say Ghosh nailed it. But I can’t… He gets close though. The book starts off slow and Ghosh ambles on about his love for Chennai and we wait for the book to focus…. On chennai. It does and he ensures that he travels the breadth and length of the city. From St Thomas mount to Sriperambathur, from Mylapore to Marina, from Triplicane to T M Krishna, from Appa Gardens to Amma, from George Town to Gymkhana club. Sometimes we feel that he has rearranged the archives from S Muthiah’s archives. But most of the time he sticks true to his quest.
Ghosh misses two very important facets of Chennai – koyambedu and kollywood. The koyambedu market is definitely a landmark that should feature in a travel book and kollywood is the arm candy of chennai. How did he miss that? Editorial arm wriggling?
But Tamarind city brings alive the streets of Chennai – the cacophony, chaos and the civility. We are painfully modest, traditional yet tech savvy, loyal yet accommodating… Chennai is truly where modern India began.
I read this book on a train ride from munich to vienna and instead of dreaming about the sights in the Austrian capital, Ghosh made me wistful of my filter Kappi. That my friend is a good book.
In less than a week, my son will step foot on the land that is a part of me. This city that defines me, the cacophony that am at ease with and the roots that I cling on to. He will see for the first time the walls that I grew up in, the roads I travelled and the extended family that raised me.
He is still too young to understand India – The myriad contradictions, the restricting culture, the frustrating traditions and the free flowing banter that borders on the offensive. But he will be old enough to get kissed every time a pair of hands pick him up, the affection that envelops him like a cozy quilt on a cold day, the aromas that linger from his parents childhood, the granny who wants to nestle him on her lap with her fingers lacing through his hair singing sweet lullabies.
His arrival will be celebrated like Diwali,his grandparents will wait on him hand and foot. The auto drivers will willingly take him on a drive, the flower lady will deliver extra garlands just for him to rip, the fruit vendor will give him bananas for free just by patting his cheek wishing him to grow fat, even the Ganesha in the corner will bat his lashes welcoming him home. Babysitting will be done without request, cows and dogs will parade for his meal time entertainment and the television will provide the much needed white noise. Here is where he will be the center of the world, the star of the show and king of an entire clan.
My son will love my city. The city that is a part of my identity and the language that I resort to in happiness and grief. He will see the grand marina – soak in its water and realize beaches have tides and warm water. He will step foot in countless temples with the puliyodharai and sakkarai pongal defining a new level of deliciousness. He will ride in all modes of transportation from cars to bullock carts. There will be shocks but there will also be surprises.
In less than a week my son will see where I come from. India – complex yet comforting, aggressive yet adoring, nosy yet devoting, confining yet generous. My hope is that on this long road home, he learns an important life lesson – To always look on the bright side.
Some thought it was condescending and cocky, some opined that it was reserved for Bollywood plastic figures. Yet some more thought it was for wallets in poor taste.
Introducing a silk sari at an astronomical price in a country that has been wearing them for centuries together is quite ballsy. It definitely does not strike me as a proper way of thanking the Indian customers. Imagine if I went to Italy and tried selling my pizzas(a blander version) at a sky-high price.
Hermes introduces a silk sari line in India. Clearly, they haven’t met their Indian counterpart – the traditional Kancheevaram.
* Chennai highways kicks ass – NH 45 truly rocks. Would love to wield the wheel but would be stumped without taking orders from GPS. Bengalooru are you taking notes?
* Radio mirchi – This was an obsession of sorts, so am listening to FM everytime we drive and my dad aint happy about it. He hates the annoying RJs and their lame jokes and i actually miss them 😀 He thinks i’m cracked in the head… too late appa.
* New addiction – Yathey Yathey ennachoo… Dhanush sent Vijay into oblivion.
* World Cup is all you need to know. NFL or World Cup.. which do you think is more popular? (Any suggestions on how to catch the Superbowl in india.. i know SIGH!!)
* SRK, Rajnikanth, Amitabh, Aamir Khan are all part of Indian of the year.. for what exactly? Guess the same reasons for why US is obsessed with Brangelina more than healthcare and yes Brad enough with the babies.
* Radio Tags on Indian students is causing a huge outcry. Why do i think that is not the issue we should be worried about?
* As promised… Internation Pheeling… Take it Rasa!!
CHENNAI – This city is in my blood… the sweat in my forehead, the noise ringing in my ears, the quickness in my step are all genetic from being born here. So when i landed, i anticipated thrills, shocks, laughter,amusement, smiles and chennai.
* You can feel your ears and they can listen. Not just the horns, the pressure cooker, television, phone… all from your neighbours house. * It is not ok to be brown to be indian. So please apply fair & lovely or vivel if you want to be visible. * Every “friendly” neighbour and your maid servant will be interested in the US economy and your green card status. * I dont care if the seat belt sign is on, the minute the landing gear hits ground, i will get up, grab cabin baggage, jostle the queue, race immigration and wait forever for baggage to arrive(tirupathila balajiya kooda parkalam check in baggage …..) * Pallavan -> Auto -> share auto -> Jeep -> Volvo Pallavan ( Life does come full circle). Obama should take a leaf out of chennai for public transport. * Indian advertisements rock. Watched some really funny ones… video links soon 🙂