Thursday, December 27, 2012

What Chennai means to me? - The CBC tablog

This post has been published as a part of 'The CBC Tablog.'  The CBC Tablog where CBC stands for Chennai Bloggers Club. About 35 bloggers from Chennai are participating in this blog tag; everyone will write about their favourite city Chennai and what it means to them. Read previous post by Charan here ....

(Image from wikipedia) 

What is Chennai to me? In one word, Home.

If home is where the heart is, my heart is in the right place. Born in Coimbatore, lived in Chennai except for one thing that I miss about Coimbatore, Chennai is always home

So what do I like about Chennai:

-         History: She is a grand old lady, though the dated history of Chennai nee Madras is 360 odd years from the time of the East India Company, the heart of Chennai Mylapore predates it by 2 milleniums

-     Geography: An awe inspiring beach borders an expanding city but the city itself is abundant with various geographic landmarks that would be the envy of many, 3 waterways (now destroyed), several tanks (also being destroyed), hills, wetlands, reserve forests and even lush green farms all within city limits, I have not seen a similar city elsewhere

-      Diversity: Namma Chennai is a given, everyone is welcome and everyone lives here harmoniously; people have migrated from all parts of the country and years later they call this place home. The (in)famous Madras bashai is a kichidi of words from so many languages that it is a class of its own.

-        Culture: drawing from its history, diversity the city is a melting pot of cultures and can be safely said is the cultural capital of the country, though many may scoff,  the music festival that is happening currently is the largest of its kind in the world. Arts, music, dance, drama, cinema are all here and many artists made this city home for it is a veritable treasure trove of the arts. Think of Cholamandalam & Kalakshetra for an idea.

-         Religions: Chennai is home to many beautiful and ancient temples and the agraharams still hold on in the face of rampant developments, Christianity is also recorded in Chennai 2000 years ago when St. Thomas an apostle of Jesus lived in Mylapore and was martyred here. Incidentally the Santhome cathedral built over the tomb of St. Thomas is one of the few in the world and draws tourists / pilgrims from everywhere. Mamallapuram is part of a temple complex and though today there are more tourists than pilgrims it is part of the religious fabric of Chennai

-       Festivals: With a diverse population every month has its share of festivals and holidays  : ) , but the biggest festival here is Pongal when most of the migrants go home to celebrate the harvest festival.

-       Education: Home to some of the best educational institutions in the country both state and privately owned, Chennai is a magnet for people from other places both for schools and colleges.

-         Employment: The GDP of Chennai is more than the GDP of the rest of the state and Chennai has diverse industries and service organizations that provide employment to a booming population

-      Commerce & Industry: The home to many an entrepreneur from the vegetable vendor to some large home grown conglomerates, Chennai has given rise to many success stories and is a favoured destination for commerce & industry

-       Access: A rail terminal, a major rail junction, 3 sea ports, one airport and one more in the pipeline and large bus terminal ensures that access to any location is possible.

-         Healthcare: Medical tourism may be the fashionable thing now, but for years people visit Chennai for the enviable healthcare facilities, boasting of two of the oldest Medical colleges and a host of government & private hospitals, Chennai is the healthcare capital that draws people from both India and abroad. The concept of corporate hospitals developed from Chennai.

-         Sports: Cricket is a religion here as it is elsewhere in the country, MCC is one of the oldest cricket clubs in the country and the MAC ground has hosted several memorable matches over the years. There is a strong domestic cricket league, a divisional football league, Vishwanthan Anand came from here and has inspired a generation after him to excel in the 64 squares, the tennis heritage led by the Krishnans, the Amithraj brothers, the current young ladies of Squash Dipika & Jyotsna all lived, played and trained here. The facilities available may not be world class but they have provided world class talent.

-         Infrastructure: to the naysayers the infrastructure of Chennai is presently exhausted and stretched to the limit but it is still better than many other locations and with a suburban train service that links the suburbs to the business district distances are easily covered. Power supply is regular, roads are available, water supply to most locations is adequate, underground drains when not clogged handle the refuse of the city.

-        Conservative & traditional: people point their fingers and say that Chennai is a conservative city, but it is that which has stood the test of time. They may be conservative or shall we say prudent but they are usually grounded.

-     Entertainment & leisure: From the welcoming Marina the haven of many a love bird on an empty wallet to the numerous parks, cinemas, amusement parks and now malls. Entertainment & leisure options are many and are growing every day.

-      Shopping: Ranganathan Street is the mecca of festival shopping though today the shopping districts have spread and even Annanagar will rival T. Nagar for clothes and jewellery. The high street in KNK and the malls from the old Spencers to the massive EA give enough shopping options, but the thrill of haggling with the platform vendor is still unparalleled 

-     Food: From the 5 star restaurants to the countless stars thattukadai, the city is a foodie’s delight. KNK has some high end dining options; the city is the home of the internationally recognized Hotel Saravana Bhavan. The largest hotel of its kind the Grand Chola is also here.But nothing beats the food made at the homes, the food of the city is a delightful melange of the many cultures that are a part of the city. Indo-Chinese "gopi manjuri" is savoured as much as tandoori chicken or masala dosai. 

What I do not like:
-       People:  some of the worst people live in Chennai. Enough said. The city is liveable because the other half also live here.

-       Weather: the weather in Chennai would have been pleasant with the sea breeze and tree cover but today with increased pollution, decreased tree cover the weather of Chennai is hot, hotter & hottest

-         Traffic: need I say more?

-         Auto drivers:

-    Encroachments of public space: both by ordinary citizens and people in power making public spaces out of bounds for normal people

-         Sanitation: public defecation, spitting on the road, littering,

-     Government: the seat of the government is also the capital of corruption, public administration is pathetic and money works wonders

-     Infrastructure: this is about the insufficient infrastructure, unfinished projects, poor or no planning, diversion, collusion, theft and so many more that rob the people of  good infrastructure for which they are taxed

-         Pollution

-         Politicians & their accompanying sycophants

It may have its faults but it is home and there is no other place I would rather be. And oh yes the one thing I would prefer Coimbatore to Chennai is the people, some really wonderful and respectful people live there.

I am very happy to tag Deepa Iyer - a foodie, home chef, a voracious reader who can finish a book in a non-stop-one-night read and a die hard romantic, she blogs at and
@dipsiyer on twitter.


Prashanth said...

Ha ha :) Well balanced write up !! Every point written is absolutely true

Ramaa Iyer said...

Very clear post and i don't think you have left any stones unturned :) all said i also like the fact that you've covered list of things you don't like about Chennai :) great writeup

Anonymous said...

that was extensive ... but the beauty is, I smile whn I read each post... Eventhough its all abt the same place.. so I ain't complaining tht u ve covered most ... gr8 writeup ...!!

Susan Deborah said...

Oh dear! This covered almost every angle and for a second reminded me of my school days where we studied in detail about ancient places. I especially liked the way how you balanced the good as well bad points of our Chennai.

Glad to have stopped by and thanks a ton for participating in the Tag.

Joy always,

P.S: It would be wonderful if you turned off Captcha and turned on Comment moderation. Time saving for the readers.

Destination Infinity said...

Quite an exhaustive post. I lived in CBE for a couple of years and I too liked the people and climate there. If the work culture was better, it would have become an ideal city.

Chennai is home. I too love the food. But if you have eaten anywhere near or in Madurai, you'll realize how tasty food can be :)

Destination Infinity

Ashwini C N said...

Every word of it is true. Though I'd like to focus on the plus and ignore the negatives since every place has some black mark, so it doesn't narrow down to Chennai alone. But kudos to your time and effort, for listing out probably everything about Chennai! :-)

The Pseudonym said...

Indha public defecation pathi we need to do something. It is zimblee going out of control.

Super Post saar.

Clement Williams said...

Thank you folks, been awhile since I got comments on my page. Big smile on the face.

Sowmya Swaminathan said...

Liked your unbiased views on the city and the way you had chalked down every aspect of Chennai in great detail :)

Keep blogging, cheers :)

Bhushavali - Indian Fashion n Travel Blogger! said...

Perfect post... Liked your perspective of listing out and explaining all good things and bad things of Chennai. And yeah, I accept with all your points! :)