Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How it all began....

The Silent Whir of the fan, the urge to gulp down ounces of chilled water, the consistent feeling of sitting at home on a bright sunny day out of sheer fear of getting burnt, the eager wait for Monday to arrive so that one can relish the coolness of the Office A.C…All signal at one thing.. The arrival of the summer

Its summer everywhere across the country. Everyone cribs and complains about it…but the moment you say you are living in Chennai all cribs turn into words of sympathies... Not just for the Chennai heat but for almost everything that is remotely associated with the word Chennai.

As I laze around on the terrace of my PG with a cup of cappuccino, enjoying the cool evening breeze my mind is engulfed with memories of the day I first landed in Chennai…

I reached Chennai Central on a dry March afternoon. My aching hands and feet cried out loud forcing me to drop my bags down on the dirty platform and look around for a place where I could rest my limbs a bit…
The paper slip in my hands fluttered reminding me that I also needed to look around for some conveyance to take me to the address scribbled on it… I played around with the idea of taking a short break before proceeding forward... But the thought of delaying my travel made me get going...

I started wandering around central station wondering what to do... I guess I fit the description of “a lady in despair” perfectly cause it was not long before I was surrounded by at least a 100 auto drivers gesturing wildly at me asking me where I would like to go… I waved the paper slip in front of one and asked “Kasturbanagar? Adyar??” “Yes Madam…only 200 Rupees Madam... Take you there Madam” pat came the reply. I looked around helplessly wondering whether it would be the right price to pay. The Nods from the rest of the lot of drivers and my aching body made me reluctantly agree to the deal…

As I walked towards the Auto I could sense the drivers snicker around me. “Seeta you nitwit!!! You’ve been fooled” was the feeling that flooded through me at that instant. I would have kicked myself hard, had i the energy left in me to do so.

As I clambered into the auto, the auto driver turned to me and said, “Music Madam?? Very Good songs Madam” I gave a tired nod noticing the driver properly for the first time. Droopy Mustache, half buttoned khaki shirt, multi colored chappals...a description any Auto driver in Chennai would fit into... As I sank back into the seat looking ahead to having my first glimpse of Chennai loud music blared through the radio almost making me leap out of the Auto… ‘Apdi Pode Pode’... the song went on… I resorted to stuffing my ears with cotton wool... “Oh Gawd...What have I gotten myself into..?#@?$$” I cursed under my breath... Glumly I looked out wondering what lay in store for me in this southern metro of India.

After what seemed like eternity and a nerve gripping roller coaster ride, the auto came to a screeching halt in front of a light blue building which I assumed was the PG mentioned in the paper slip I still held in my hand.. “10 Rupees more Madam...Traffic Jyaasthi Madam” cried out the Auto Driver. I thumped two 100 Rupee notes in his hand, firmly shaking my head… I had learnt my first lesson in Chennai.

I heaved my bags to the side path as the auto pulled away. With my hands on my hips I looked up to what would probably result in being my residence in Chennai... As I slowly walked towards the gate, towing my luggage behind me, I fervently hoped that I would be able to hold a proper conversation with my future to be landlord either in English or Hindi.

Sweat trickled down my brow…was it the worry of getting a good place to stay or was it the Chennai heat that every single soul I knew had warned me about... I wondered

As I pushed open the gate I realized that I wasn’t alone. Through the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of an old man charily observing me…For the first time that day, I became wary of what I was dressed in. A 23 year old girl wearing a faded old Capri, an equally faded short Tee, sporting a mass of short tousled hair with a pair of Ray bans shading her eyes from the merciless heat was something he had not expected... I guess… The questioning eyes seemed to follow every move that I made. Big brown eyes, bushy eyebrows, a grizzly beard … it unnerved me further.

Somehow I managed to tear my eyes away and continued walking towards the main door, forcing myself to ignore the man I had just seen. I heard footsteps echo behind me.. My pace automatically quickened. Before I could react, the man came up to me carrying a stern look on his face. Just as I was about to start sending out SOS signals, his eyes lit up with a warm smile and he broke out into a torrent of Tamil…
”yaaru neenga? Engendhu vandhurkeenga? Yaara pakanum…pgla irruka vandhurkeengala?”

I heaved a huge sigh of relief… just as I was about to try and explain to the old man, the main door opened and an old lady peeped out and I was attacked with more Tamil…. “Are these the house owners??” I almost cried out in despair. “How will I live here...? What will I do??” a hundred questions had already started forming in my mind….

Dolefully I shook my head and said “Tamil Teriyade”... silently thanking my Tamilian neighbour back in Goa for having taught me that one invaluable sentence...

The old lady turned around and called out “Jyothi...Jyothi” I couldn’t help but wonder what lay ahead of me next. I had just started preparing for the worst when a sweet looking young chudidhar clad lady came out and asked “Hello, Please may I know who you would like to meet?” I could have hugged her then and then! At last I had met someone I could speak to. “Hi…I am Seeta.” I replied happily. “Oh….please come in. I have been waiting for you...” she said as she invited me in. She inquired about my journey, nodding sympathetically when I told her how I was fleeced by the auto driver.

As she served me some juice I couldn’t stop myself from asking who the people I had met earlier were. “Oh they!! They are my in-Laws” she said.

I busied myself with the juice so that she wouldn’t notice the crimson color that my face had turned into. Fortunately for me she changed the subject and asked me whether I would like to see the PG facility. I gladly said yes and we started climbing the stairs to the second floor.

During the course of our conversation I learnt that jyothi was as fluent in Hindi as she was in English. Happily I continued my climb.

The PG was awesome.. To say the least. Well furnished cheery rooms greeted me everywhere, the smile on my face further widened when jyothi told me that most of the girls in eth PG spoke languages I knew… Hindi and English. The icing on the cake was the room which was supposed to be mine... On seeing it I knew what “love at first sight” was.

It took me a few minutes to settle down the payment issues before I moved my entire luggage in. Just as I started to unpack there was a hesitant knock on the half open door... a sweet looking gal poked her head in and said “ hi..Can we come in? ” I nodded my head briskly and 2 girls sauntered in making themselves comfortable on my bed. The taller of the two broke the silence “Hey you are Seeta right. I’m Reva and she’s Manaswi...We both are from Mumbai, Which place do you belong to??” ‘Goa.” I replied smilingly. “Hey that sounds so cool... by the way we have quite a rocking crowd out here... You must meet them all!!” gushed Manaswi... We spoke for a few more minutes before they left me to complete my unpacking. 

A few hours later... tired I sank into my pillow visualizing what life would be like in Chennai, a city whose impression in my mind was rapidly changing … for the better I hoped as I drifted away into sleep….

“Seeta your favorite song is playing” Manaswi called out; Bringing me back to the present… taking a sip of my already cold cappuccino I thought... It was a year since the day I first came to the PG. All my skepticism about Chennai had ceased to exist after a few days in the city. Paati, Thata (Jyothi’s In Laws) and I had become very good friends. They had in fact started holding classes to teach me Tamil. Haggling with the Auto driver Annas and experiencing F1 Racing with them had now become an integral part of my day to day life in Chennai.

Engrossed in these thoughts I slowly came down from the terrace to the living room humming the tune of the song that was playing then… Ninaithu Ninaithu Parthey... one of my favourites…


  1. Hey girl.. the last post that i read. "where it all.." was beautiful. YOur writing style is a lot like mine. Sadly though i ain't like to have my private life on the web.

    But reading yours...must say, made me think twice more on having a blog of my own.

  2. You started writing in 2006! You are a veteran, Seeta! I didn't know. Chennai summers, I've heard are pretty bad.

    1. hahaha no Rachna.. started the blog in 2006 and would remember it like once in a blue moon every year... in 2009 it was completely forgotten, only to be revived again last year :)

  3. The writer in me hadn't even been aware of that she existed somewhere within me in 2006. A wonderful journey so far. Keep it up.

    1. I am glad the writer in you woke up soon enough.. we would have missed out on quite a bit otherwise :)

  4. Lovely post, I must also write a post about landing a PG in Mumbai!

    1. Thanks Chatty! You should blog about it, I am sure it would have been an unforgettable experience.. in the good way of course :)

  5. Nice to know that you have adjusted to Chennai well. I have been to Chennai two times en-route Tirupati and have liked the place.

    1. Spent 5 years there and really had no complaints.. gave me some of my closest friends and most importantly met my soul mate there :)

  6. Our first impressions of a person/place is always a benchmark for how much we've moved on :-)

    1. Absolutely Purba... and Chennai taught me enough to make me the person I am today :)

  7. Wow Seeta, that is such a detailed account of your first day in Chennai..!! Lovely post ..


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