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Farewell Chennai

Eleven years (and then some) after I landed in Madras, a wide-eyed provincial keeping a wary yet naive eye out for people out to cheat me, I am leaving behind Chennai. I am no less wide-eyed or provincial than that day eleven years ago as I prepare to board a train, this time to the City of the Nizams. What wonderful happenstance that I am writing this from exactly the same place where I landed all those years ago – Chennai Central railway station!

Everything has undergone a world of change in this time – Madras Central is now Chennai Central – more swanky and more user-friendly, but still as irritatingly crowded as ever. The city itself has slid more and more into the chaos of a metropolis where the local population is so outnumbered by immigrants that to find a real Madras resident and talk to them is a rare but enjoyable treat. read more

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Came across BlogCamp, and was wondering whether I should go. Then I discovered Syed, and then there was no choice, I simply had to be there! bills itself as India’s Biggest and the most comprehensive blog event and is intended to be an unconference on all things blogging. What is really exciting is that this is going to be in Chennai – so I can be in it without going to too much trouble 🙂 It will be on at the Tidel Park on the 9th and 10th of September – go and register if you want to be there. read more

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Vidya and I are quite Scrabble-mad.

We used to play quite often, and once Suresh got us a deluxe board (it was then not available in India – he lugged it for us all the way from the US!), it was almost a daily affair. It was then that the Chennai Scrabble Championship was announced, and naturally, both of us signed up for it.

Once we went to the championship, we discovered a whole new world of Scrabble play. There were quite a few amateurs like us, but the core group was a bunch of tournament-hardened regulars, members of the Chennai Scrabble Club. We had to play seven games in a row, and my first was with a veteran player from the club. Needless to say, I got thrashed pretty badly – the spread was about 140 points. I played my other games much better – thanks to some tips from my first-round nemesis after the game! Vidya had a much better run and her spreads were smaller. We managed to win a few and lost a few. Finally, at the end of the day, we finished fifteenth and sixteenth – Vidya was the higher ranked. read more

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பட்டாவும் பொரம்போக்கும்

நேற்றிரவு நான் சாப்பிடுவதற்கு ஒரு வண்டிக்கடைக்கு சென்றேன். அந்த சாலிக்ராம சாலையில், ஒரு மிகப்பெரிய சினிமா நிறுவனத்தின் முன், சாலை விளக்கின் வெளிச்சத்தில் நின்று கொண்டிருந்தது பிரியாணி வண்டி. ஒரு quarter பதினைந்து ரூபாய் என்றார் கடைக்காரர். கம கமவென்று வீசியது பிரியாணியின் மணம். ஒரு quarter வாங்கி, வண்டி அருகே நின்று சாப்பிட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். read more

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The Rabbit is Here!

Finally, after days of dawdling, Tropical Storm Fanoos has arrived. It has been cool, breezy and cloudy since morning, and now it has started raining.

A note on the name – Fanoos in Persian stands for lantern, and I’m guessing it is a popular girls’ name in Pakistan, which has contributed the name to the list of hurricane names.

As for the title, it is a play on the mis-pronunciation of the Tamil word for storm – an inside joke at the office.

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Dayanidhi Maran on Bill Gates and Chennai Roads

Bill Gates has been pulled into the routine DMK-AIADMK mudslinging, with DMK Minister Dayanidhi Maran saying he was the one to invite Gates to Chennai, and that Chennai’s bad roads stopped him from taking Gates to Tidel Park, and that if things continue in this way, Chennai would become another Bangalore. Well Mr. Maran, maybe if you had invited Gates before four tropical storms / depressions pounded the crap out of Chennai roads, you could have taken him to Tidel Park.

From here and here.

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The Great Chennai Cricket Con

The cricket crowd at Chennai has been called, in all forms of media and by all sorts of “personalities,” as a very knowledgeable and sporting crowd. Maybe that is why they have left the Chepauk stadium still standing, never mind the millions of rupees the national and state cricket bodies have made off it by just promising cricket without delivering for the past three years.

Today’s continuing rain, as well as the cloudy outlook that seems to promise more rain over the next few days, has effectively washed away any chances there might have been of a good game of cricket. And yet, hope springs eternal in the Chennaivaasi’s mind, as he (and/or she) swells the coffers of our cricket associations, whose custodians are smiling even in the rain – after all, each match washed out means more money earned without too much trouble. What’s a couple of pesky court cases by no-name busybodies and a few gently speculative media reports when you get a few million (30, for the one day international that never was against South Africa) rupees in the bargain. read more

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That Black Dog – Again!

Okay, this is getting serious. There is this black dog that lives somewhere on the one-way street that I take everyday to get on to Mount Road (Anna Salai to the purists, or not!) from Usman Road.

I did write a post about him a few days ago, and here I am, doing it again! This guy is getting to be one celebrity of a dog!

Yesterday morning, I was passing by his street when I spotted him, sitting upright on the extreme left of the road, watching the traffic lazily. At this point, a (typical Chennai) cyclist, blissfully ignoring the trouble he was causing by his actions, was slowly cycling down the road, against the flow of traffic, on his extreme right. Now, our hero, the black dog, was sitting well off the road, presenting no obstacle to any one. Seeing the offending cyclist, he decided to teach him a lesson, and slowly got up, stepped out in front of the cyclist, and stretched. The cyclist, suddenly finding his way blocked by a dog, and having no space to manoeuvre, braked sharply. This threw him off balance, and he flailed wildly for a moment before jumping off his bicycle in order to save himself from the ignominy of falling off. By this time, our hero had finished his stretching and had returned to his former position. The cyclist, looking stupid and defeated, went on his way. The dog, secure in the knowledge that he had struck one for law and order, sat looking at his street. I came away with another story – straight from the dog! read more

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Rain – 1, Cricket – 0

Well, it looks like today’s cricket match will not happen. It is pouring down in buckets, and by the looks of it, the ground cannot recover in time for today’s scheduled 2:30 p.m. start.

According to the TNCA web site, those who bought tickets are the biggest losers – their money will not be refunded “under any circumstances.” The Hindu had a report on this, and it looks like the Association will take a call on it only after the match is called off.

Judging by the ticket rates – a decent seat costs a minimum of Rs. 1200 – the TNCA seems to be a very greedy entity. But judging by the response – ALL the tickets were sold out within a few hours of opening the counters – Chennai is full of people willing to pay. read more

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