Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Madras return

I am back. I want to write on many things about the India trip but I am not sure where to start. I'll use this post to write a follow-up to the wishlist I wrote almost a year back.

Life is a journey that takes you to places. But, when it takes you to the same place again where you took that all important first step, there is a certain magic to it. It is a special feeling. I felt that during this trip.

Going through the wishlist...


Hindu & Filter Coffee - check

I must admit I found Times of India more interesting and informative than Hindu. Reading Hindu of today was like having filter coffee with very little dicoction. Not strong enough!

Also, the newspaper delivery guy gave me a weird look when I asked him for Gokulam. Wonder what happened to that lovely magazine.

Madras Music Season

Didn't attend any kacheris. I reached Madras after the music season got over. There were few Kacheri held at random places. I wanted to attend concerts by top artists (Sanjay Subramanian, Aruna Sairam, Nithyashree etc). And I neither had the time nor the patience to sit through any thenga moodi kacheris.

Talk to the old kids - check

I spent quality time with my grandparents. I have the coolest Paati in the world and we spent a lot of time together. Whether it was accompanying her in morning walk to the Theosophical Society, or helping her (err...read mostly talking and doing nothing) in the kitchen, or learning to make the perfect kashayam...we had an awesome time.

There were a few old kids whom I found it very difficult to say bye to. They are in the late evening of their life.

Theosophical Society & Adyar Broken Bridge - check check

Adyar Broken Bridge

I visited TS numerous times with Paati in our morning walks. One morning we walked till Adyar Broken bridge to watch the sunrise. It was a cloudy morning unfortunately. We sat on the bridge admiring the views. The Broken bridge is an idyllic place to see the confluence of three elements: the urban nature, the city's past and its present. The Adyar river estuary was dotted with heaps of white storks and other native birds. It was beautiful.

Being an alumnus of Chettinad Vidyashram, I was a bit sad to see Chettinad palace being dwarfed by all those huge buildings beside it (in MRC Nagar). The palace used to look majestic on the banks of Adyar river. She was quite a sight when seen from Thiru Vi Ka bridge. As a kid, I used to point at the palace and proudly tell my visiting cousins "anga dhaan da yen school iruku. Madras-liye enga school dhaan perusu!"

Taken from the broken bridge. The Adyar river estuary was dotted with heaps of white storks.

Gangothree - check.

Archana, you were right about Gangothree.

Riding in Chennai
- check

It took me one ride from Adyar to Mylapore to adjust to Chennai traffic. I was given a crash course by my cousin on how to handle Maama, just in case if I get caught for riding without a driver license. I was reminded that Driver license doesn't necessarily be the ones issued by RTO office. Other handoverable license exist particularly those thin leaves from RBI which has Gandhi thatha's megawatt smile printed on it.

It was fun not to follow any rules and ride with gay abandon. Chennai traffic is lot more tolerable than Mumbai traffic. Unlike Bombay, most motorcyclists in Chennai wear helmets. And boy some helmets look real flashy and cool.

(Very very) busy roads like Arcot Road need to be studied by Road Engineers on how all types of motorists, pedestrians and other creatures can share a small, pathetic strip of thar and still manage to move about.

Some cyclists - mainly thundu pasanga (teenage boys) - punch above their weight. This incident happened at Greams Rd (near Iyyapan kovil at RA puram). A thundu paiyan (one of the dangerous species on the road) was simply cycling along. Upon seeing a girl riding an Activa, he suddenly started to peddle away like crazy to reach the same speed as her. Once he was cycling beside the girl, thala gives this paathiyaa-na-cycle-liye-un-speed-la-ottaren look at the girl. She kept going at the same speed. After 75-100 metres of this madness, traffic came in from RK Mutt-Greams Rd intersection (near Govt. Music college). Thundu paiyan's brakes weren't in top condition I think. He narrowly missed colliding into an Auto rickshaw. Thundu deservingly got Archanai'd by the Auto driver. The Auto driver exercised his sweacabulary to the max by questioning/doubting Thundu paiyan's family tree.

Thundu paiyan
, with his rickety bicycle, did everything he could to die that day.

Drink goli soda - check.

I couldn't get Goli soda in Chennai. I tried in a few potti kadai's and grocery shops at Adyar, Mandaveli & KK Nagar. Finally managed to get Paneer Soda at Swamimalai, Kumbakonam.

Manga & cholam at Besant Nagar Beach - check

My younger brother claims he should be credited for this pic because it was his idea . I dont agree with him, but I accept his claim. So there!

Pattam vidardhu (Flying kites)

The only pattam people were talking about is MBA at top B-schools.

Kalyana sapaadu (Lunch at weddings) - check

Attended my cousin's wedding and vettu-vettufied the lunch. Apart from the usual items, speciality items like Coconut poli and Avul payasam (Avul = Poha) were served. The taste was divine. By the time more (buttermilk) was served, cousin and I weren't able to sit erect. Cook Jagadeesan Iyer simbly rocks!.

The South Indian community here could do with people like Jagadeesan Iyer. Usually, food for weddings/poonals is catered by an Indian restaurant or a random chef who doesn't know the difference between appam and adhirsam (or between badushah and basandi). So the food ends up tasting a bit better than Raj Takeaways down the road.

After reading Kavi's post, I re-realised there is something about having food served on a vaazha yela (plantain leaf). It may be a bit slippy-sloppy but it beats having lunch served on a small plastic plate with Raita served on top of Channa masala due to space constraints.


I visited most of the famous temples in TN - Meenakshi Amman Kovil at Madurai, Brihadeeswara Kovil at Thanjavur, Chidambaram, Srirangam, Swamimalai, Gunaseelam, Samayapuram....and other lesser known temples which are vishesham for Pithrus (for my late Grandma)

Taken at Madurai Meenakshi Kovil

At Trichy, I visited a Shiva temple at Thiruvanaikaval (near Srirangam). Outside the temple, there were shops selling various items for the deity. One of them was the flower shown below. Do you know the name of this flower? It seems this flower is sacred because it has a shape of a serpent and legend has it that they once found a Shiva lingam inside the flower!

Do you know the name of this flower?

So, it was a great trip. I am glad I went with my parents. Had I gone alone (or with friends), I doubt I would've visited so many wonderful places in mainland TN. Looking forward to the next trip :-)


  1. Looks like i'm the first one to comment :)

    I'm glad I am going back to chennai for good, very shortly!

    Should make a visit to broken bridge. I have the special privilege of negotiating with adyar police for the release of druken classmates who tried to build the other half of broken bridge at 1 AM :)..Will write about it some day...

    That hindu + coffee photo is priceless stuff..

    Hope you had a great TN tour!!

    BTW which camera is this..Would like to send my sony digicam to take some lessons..it sucks!

    Danke for blogrolling..Will add that section in my blog soon!




  3. Ashwin,

    I am keen to hear the broken bridge story. Do write about it soon! :D

    I've got a Canon 450D SLR twin lens kit. I've had it for 3 months now. Awesome camera. I'd recommend it if you are planning to upgrade to a SLR.

  4. Kumz,


    thanks man.

    You shouldve heard the autokaaran's "pon mozhi" on thundu paiyan. It was hilarious. Only Autokaarans/Rickshawkarans can get that 'spashtam' and the delivery.

  5. Bro...nice post...Enjoyed reading the thundu paiyan story and could relate to many such incidents during my Chennai visit...Goli-Soda and Mango & Cholam at the beach is something I wanted to do but couldn't...Guess,I need to start a wish-list for my next trip...Btw,what were you riding?

  6. Super pictures ! Glad that you had time to catch up on the coffee & The Hindu !

    Chennai and its magnificence is changing. Infact every city is changing. I guess we just need to soak in the moment and soak up the change.

    Read your account with great interest. Very well written !


  7. Thank you, Kavi!

    That's true. the 'madras'ness in Chennai is slowly fading. Time does this to every city I guess.

    "soak in the moment..." - to be in the 'present' can be a challenge sometimes :)

  8. wow !! u ve been here .. naan miss panniten. .. so next time u come just send me a mail . i will be ready with thara thappatai ;)


  9. witsy,

    yup. we'll meet next time :)

  10. Warm post Sriram:-)

    There's something about the 'thenga-maanga-pataani' sundal available in the chennai beaches!!! Out of the world. Oh & I guess, the 'thundu-pasange' will never get extinct.

    Pics are great. Looks like you covered most of the famous temples.

  11. Dude,

    Awesome Nostalgia!

    There are actually so many nice places in Chennai to hang out. Bessi is my favorite hangout,well connected by buses and chollam in hand munching talking to bunch of friends looking at sea is a beautiful experience.

    Looks like you are on pilgrimage dude..:)..So big things gonna happen soon ;)

    No matter how many cities are better than Chennai to live, Chennai Rocks!!

    Wernt u shocked abt prices in menucards? Many many of friends who land in Chennai say.."Machan..chennai has become very costly!!!"

  12. lostworld, thank you. you are right about thundu pasanga :)


    thanks. Bessie beach was awesome. My grandparents place is near to the beach, so I was able to visit many times.

    re "big things", hehe. Sivaji style-la sollanum naa, indha singam koncham naalaiki single-aa dhaan irukum. lol.

    yup. Cost of living is crazy in chennai. Let's take Masala dosai for eg. It costs almost double in Chennai compared other towns in TN. Anyaayam!

    I badly wanted to watch "Thamizh Padam" at Sathyam. Man, that place is packed. All shows for thamizh padam were booked 3-4 days in advance. bleddy online booking! :)

  13. thalaivaaaaaaaa,

    singam ondru purapattadhe,
    adhukku nalla kaalam porandhiruku...

    unakkaga thee kulikaren thaliava

  14. Loved reading :)

    We have to plan a trip to Chennai, ok? :)

    P.S. Will try to find out that beautiful flower's name.

  15. You writing good posts has become a regular feature now...I am impressed again and again...that flower is called "NAGALINGA POO" Had you told me I would taken you to a place where you could have see a huge tree full of Nagalinga poo..I love its smell and the feel.

  16. Beautiful pics.Eyes through the lens.Gifted,Simbly:)

    I am glad you had an awesome trip.

    Oh and btw, kaapi strong ilanaalum filter cofee filter coffee taanae:D

  17. Kumz,



    yup. we should!


    Nagalinga poo. ok ok.


    thanks :)
    hahaha..nee solradhu correct!

  18. nice pics man, good post, solid stuff, but yeah, less praying, more partying, that should be the formula for next trip.

  19. very well written
    I love your pictures too!

  20. my folks never let me visit the broken bridge. and i get kicked out of kacheris. by the people I went with.

    bessie beach ftw!