Chennai Diaries – Part 1


Debs gave me this idea.. to write about the little incidents that happen here, during my short stay in Chennai! So let me shoot…

* We took this arduous journey of almost 17 hours to reach Chennai! It was an indirect flight, via Bombay (I cannot yet bring myself to say Mumbai!). Inflight, it was stuffy and warm, and I had a splitting head-ache for half the journey! Then the plane hovered around for about 30 minutes in the air, because it couldn’t land due to air-traffic congestion!! We finally reached home at 5:30 am!! Luckily, my favourite nephew was awake to welcome us, so that eased away all the trouble of travelling!!

* We were jet-lagged for the first three days. The Chennai weather did nothing to help us out. Strangely, until the day we landed, (we are told), the weather in Chennai was supposedly awesome.. warm during the day, but chill at night! Sigh!

* Just as I recovered from jet-lag, my paternal Grandma passed away. The family was expecting it for a couple of weeks, as she was ailing, but when the phone rang at 12:30 am, it was a bit of a jolt!!

* This morning, I witnessed an ‘auto fight’ πŸ™‚ It was fun. Fun, because the auto-driver was negotiating with a foreigner over the fare to be paid! For non-Chennai-ites, you must know something – Chennai autos do not believe in the concept of ‘metre readings’ or ‘fair fares’ πŸ™‚ they believe in harassing and fleecing ‘savaari’ or passengers πŸ™‚ So we saw this auto driver arguing with a foreign lady. And the Hero that my Dad likes to be, he shouted at the auto-driver and said, foreigners will think we are all beggars! The dutiful daughter that I am, I supported him, by saying ‘What will ‘they’ think of ‘us”. Only to realise, after a few minutes, that the auto-driver was actually asking for a reasonable amount. And that the poor foreigner was actually leaving a posh silk-saree shop!!! So much for ‘hospitality’ towards ‘foreigners’ πŸ™‚

* A strange conversation with my dearest maternal grandmother this evening. According to our custom, the son/family is not allowed to perform anything auspicious or even visit temples/undertake pilgrimage for 1 year from the time of death in the family. I was cribbing about this insane custom to my grandma. When she said, that as a young girl of about 6 or 7, she remembers being shocked at a woman in her village (Poondi), who lost her husband, and confined herself to the four walls of her house for an entire year!!!

While I think this is outrageous, there could be a couple of reasons for such a stupid custom…

1- The family is in mourning, so they cannot venture out. One year was probably a fair enough period for them to ‘move on’.

2- The family cannot afford to undertake anything, be it a function or pilgrimage, as people did not save quite that much in the olden days!

3- The widow must be protected from other men (or women) who might try to take advantage of her frail situation.

While I found all the above utterly insane, one point that my Grandma made was striking! She said ‘It is specifically at such a time, that the bereaved family needs support from other people’, so to cut them away from the rest of the world is insane! Kudos to my Grandma for saying that!

* The rich-poor divide in India has always been talked about. Infact we have lived our entire life through this divide, struggling each day, to ensure we are on the right side!! But the more we look around, the deeper this divide gets imprinted in our mind. Yesterday, I went to get my old watches repaired, and spent about Rs.340 on them. Then I realised my slipper had snapped, so decided to buy a new one. In the meanwhile however, I spotted a cobbler, and got the slipper mended by him. The man sat hunched, cruching in the little shade that the bare tree could offer. He did his job, and when I handed out a Rs.20 note, he returned Rs.15 to me. It struck me as so unfair. That labour is so cheap!! What would that man do with such a meagre amount of Rs.5??? Even if he repaired 20 pairs of slippers that day, he would not make more than Rs.100… on his good days, probably Rs.250 or 300? Or Rs.500 perhaps? Is that enough, TO LIVE A LIFE OF DIGNITY?????

* We had an awesome little blogger’s meet this afternoon. Uma, Kanagu, Aarthi, Vimmu (who made a guest appearance), Anish and yours truly met up and had a ball!!! We did take some pictures, but I have this bad feeling that I’ve accidentally deleted the pics I took. So I bank on Uma to upload her pics on FB. Oh, and she baked this yummylicious and totally drool-worthy chocolate cake for us πŸ™‚ that we ate secretly under the tables, when the power went out!!!

* And finally, this evening, came the awful news of IHM’s daughter. Tears rolled freely, as I read Tejaswee’s blog. And a particular post called ‘On dying early’. My deepest condolences to dear Β IHM. I feel choked. So I have to sign off now.

More later…..

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16 thoughts on “Chennai Diaries – Part 1

  1. Welcome back to India! πŸ™‚ And where did you find a cobbler who mends for 5 Rs? Even beggars in Bangalore give us stares if you hand them any less than 5!
    And I’m waiting for the Blog meet pics on FB! πŸ™‚

    Even I was very sad to hear about IHM’s daughter. 😦

  2. Sounds like you are having a good trip. The rich-poor divide that you talk about seems to become more apparent once you have left India and return. I noticed it myself last year when I visited and it seems so unfair. 😦 The news about IHM’s daughter is so shocking…I too had goosebumps and felt so sad reading that particular post. 😦

  3. Hugs Pals! The auto driver incident made me smile…
    Cobblers here charge more, but, in Mysore I have paid Rs.5 for repairs!
    And Vimmuuu put in only a guest appearance is it?! πŸ˜‰
    And now, so much has been heard about Uma’s delicious cakes, we now demand proof of the same! πŸ˜›
    Uma, if you are reading this, all of us Bangalore folks don’t mind the courier service!! πŸ˜‰

    It’s so so unfair and sad about IHM’s daughter 😦
    Hope God gives them the strength to get thru these terrible days…

  4. Hey Pal,

    Thats awesome! Like motocycle diaries, we have Pal’s diaries! Wish I too had this gift of writing! May be u r inspiring me to start a blog!
    Cheers!
    Ramesh

  5. Now that’s what I call a post on “An NRI Returns – Observations” πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ Have fun, stay safe, don’t catch any disease and enjoy your time here.

    My deepest condolences to Tejashwee’s family too. Her blog IMAO was a delightful read. I was too shocked to know of the reason too! Such a waste!

  6. Cobblers are nic people..they never ask for more than Rs.5…we have a lot of weird practises, quite boring if you ask me…and one thing which people forget is that the autodrivers also have to make ends meet…some do try to fleece but others are in genuine trouble…

  7. Hello Pallavi Ji,
    The reasonable auto-wallahs seldom exist, and I think that the mistake that you and your father made was a natural one! Often we have to bear the brunt of belonging to a community because of the way the community is stereotyped. Adds a lot of variety, I guess.

    I was shocked and saddened to hear about IHM’s daughter. This should never happen to any parent…perhaps the saddest and the most difficult thing to bear.
    – Gorakh Nath.

  8. Funny this blog world is, I tell you. I havnt seen or heard IHM, but when I heard the news, I became restless and was feeling so damn helpless. I somehow got myself to write a mail to her and at the end, I burst into tears. I am sure this wouldve been the same for many others too. I and IHM have been interacting for over 2 years now, but it has been only through blogs, then what is it that didnt allow me to compose myself? Its like we all are a close knitted family. There IS something about this virtual world, which many of us realises only at these situations. IHMs loss is in someway or the other our loss too. May Tejaswees soul her rest in peace.

    1. Really, Vimmu, I couldn’t agree more. I think entire Blogworld is in grief on hearing this terrible loss. God bless IHM and her family, and help them remain as strong as they are….

  9. I am totally enjoying the idea of Chennai Diaries πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€
    Though work has been keeping me from commenting but I am fully aware of all that you’ve been up to lately πŸ™‚
    Enjoyed your auto anecdote πŸ˜€
    I am very sorry to learn about your grandma 😦 may she R.I.P
    You are very right Pallavi, the whole blog world is shaken and struck by shock and grief ever since we’ve learnt about IHM’s daughter.

    Hope you enjoy your trip in Chennai and the weather gets better for you πŸ™‚

    Cb, thank you so much girlie πŸ™‚ Touched now, because you have been reading my posts.. thank you again!!
    Cheers!!

  10. I never took Auto in Chennai… I think its well connected by buses… but sometimes what those ask is atrocious.. there are few genuine ones too…
    There are a few good souls, Kanagu, and when they ask for a reasonable fare, then we are all in shock!!

    And for divide between rich and poor… we are becoming a country only for rich.. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST in this globalized India..
    😦

    And IHM’s daughters loss is unbearable.. it took a long time for me to get that she is no more here… 😦 😦

  11. Loving your tidbits abt Chennai…. πŸ™‚
    Hee hee, I should have thought of this for my NRI-post for BPL πŸ™‚ Thank you, Uma!!!

    Loved the awesome lunch meet even more…. πŸ™‚ Special hugs to you, for mentioning abt the yummy cake… πŸ˜‰
    That was really good! Waiting for the next one πŸ™‚

    IHM’s loss is so sad…made everyone here at blogo world feel so bad and sad. 😦 May God give her and her family more strength to handle this.
    Really…this has sort of shocked entire blogworld!!

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