Spoiled by Chennai

Chennai spoils you.

You take so many things for granted, and only after you leave do you realise how much those trivial things meant to you.

Three months in a different city and what do I miss? (In no particular order)

Being able to read directions in a legible script. Pattu sarees. People calling one another ‘Machi’. Aasife Biryani. Nithya Fish Shop on Besant Nagar Beach- with akka’s fresh prawn/ shrimp/ pomfret catch, fried with onion masala. Sathyam cinema popcorn- oh could there BE better popcorn in the world!. Random ‘anna’s. Crescent Hotel Shawarma. Sea Shells Grilled Chicken. TN registration vehicles. Murugan Idly Kadai Butter Dosa. Saravana Bhavan Sambar. Stone idols and Kudumi- Pundits in temples. Heading out without lipstick and not caring two hoots about it. Auto-meter fights. Kuthu songs. Tamil movies. Speeding on the East Coast Road. YLG salon. Road side romeos. Good, non spicy food. The little Jap restaurant on Nungambakkam high road. Wangs Kitchen. Adyar Ananda Bhavan. Khader Nawaz Khan road. Golu hopping. T Nagar. EA Mall. The Beach. Loud speakers on the roads (I would atleast understand what was being said!) Familiar bus routes. Sugar Monkeys desserts. “Neengal azhaitha yen tharchamaiyam busy-aga irukiradhu’ messages. Saying ‘aaniye- pudingavendam’ and not having to explain it. Filter coffee. Sea Breeze. Knowing what song your desk-mate at work is humming. Being able to pick a conversation about something local. Knowing where to go when I need to buy ‘thaalikara paathram’. The Hindu Lit for Life. Radio Mirchi- Idhu Semma Hot, Machi!. Saying ‘Mood-u’. The warm, comforting sun- and dry clothes. Complaining about the sweat. Flooded roads- and holidays declared owing to rains. Eating food on banana leaves. Mom’s vazha-poo vadai.

Home 😦

Chennai spoils you- you just never realise how much until you get out of it.

When Walls Have Eyes

It is during times like this thatI wonder why we never, ever listen to the well-meaning people of our lives, when they specifically ask us not to do something.

A friend and I once had a conversation about why we have this extremely compulsive need to share everything on social media. Psychology gave us answers- all of us know it. We love to flaunt our lives online, irrespective of how mundane our existences are. It gives us a semblance of a one-up over others, and makes the rest of the world feel that they are two steps behind us.

Before you think this is going to be another hollow rant about the cons of facebook or something on those lines- it isn’t. What it is about, is how vulnerable we all are- as I found out myself, and about how I hope every single person reading this will please get offline to their real lives.

For a long time, I would enthusiastically share everything online myself- Every time I was asked ‘What’s on your mind?’ I would feel compelled to give an honest and detailed response. Every restaurant I visited would be checked into, and every meal I cooked or ate out would be diligently photographed and uploaded, so that the rest of the world would know exactly how much fun I had and how happening my life was. Birds of a feather, they say- So it was around this phase that N, G and I realised we clicked amazing pictures when we were within the same frame. Some of those happy clicks you can see for yourself. (N, G and I worked together. Both are very special friends of mine and have seen me through thick and thin- that subject would fill twenty posts by itself)

Good Times!

G, the wise and sane one, always untagged himself. N and I would splash these online, like they were our own version of page 3, and allow the likes and comments to pile up. And we would forget about them eventually.

Slowly we grew out of this, just like how we grew out of the concept of Ladies Nights, Stilettos and the insufferable need to fight against flab. And a good two years later N hears from a friend, who got a message in her ‘Other Messages’ folder on facebook. As alarm bells rang, all of us checked our ‘Other Messages’ and this is what we saw. Here we had a seemingly decent chap, who not only flicked our pictures and morphed his face into it, but also had the audacity to request permission to use them. N keeps her folders locked, and I did not have this photo in my profile. How this photo even reached somebody else is still a mystery to us.

We decided to ignore the message.

Morphed

Screenshot_2015-10-07-22-54-17

On a spur, today I visit the same profile to see the same picture on this person’s cover page.

This post is not to request action against this chap. In all honesty- I am unsure how to proceed and would love to hear opinions. This post is merely to tell you guys that nobody is invincible. We think identity thefts and photo-morphing happen to other people; that it never happens to us. That was what I thought.

Now I know better. When I have a good time at Hard Rock Café, I do not have the urge to showcase it to the world. I love my family- I do not post a picture and tag my husband/ mother/ brother, proclaiming it. I walk into the next room and whisper it into their ears.

After all this, there still will be a bunch of people who will still say that it is my fault for having allowed such a photograph to be taken, to that bunch I say- we can never look eye to eye on this subject or any other subject, so pray let us not waste one another’s time.

And to the rest of you I say- Please exercise caution, because the walls have eyes.

Falling in Love- Guest Post by Naren P

Never knew that the husband had a writer hiding within!  An excellent one, that too !

I’ve been riding bicycles for as long as I can remember and have been doing so with an engine since I was 16. To look back at the two-wheels I’ve owned has been nothing but special. I started off with a classic BSA champ with its iconic sissy bar, the long white seat and the chromed handlebar. Ooh the swag I had back in the day. I then moved on to a BSA Mongoose and finally the Hercules Topgear which was India’s first geared cycle. You could probably imagine the pure joy I felt when I owned that cycle. I cared so much for that cycle (when I first bought it of course) that I used to bring it up to my bed room, park it by the mirror and then admire it for hours. By the way, I lived in an apartment on the second floor and the building had no lift. You might now seriously think I may have had some loose screws up in there.

Unfortunately I do not remember much of my cycling days except for the monumental falls I have had over the years. This probably explains why the screws might have been undone. Well, I have such vivid memories of them especially the time I fell off the Mongoose right outside my house whilst attempting to catch some air beneath my tires, all thanks to the beautifully uneven laid roads in Chennai. Mind you, the “ramp” on the road was about a few inches high but, my god, I felt like Evil Knievel when I took off at break-neck speeds. So on one my many trials down Chennai’s own X-Games track (Venkatapathy Street) I was peddling with such gusto and excitement when all of a sudden the chain breaks loose and locks up the rear wheel. I was hurled right off my cycle and for a split second there I felt like a F-16 fighter jet breaking the sound barrier. But that feeling went by in a flash and what followed was a the loudest thud when I hit the road scrapping off layers of tar and of course the skin and flesh of my leg. The wound was not a pretty sight to say the least because it looked like a strawberry tart garnished with generous portions of stones, sand and tears. A crowd quickly gathered around attempting to peel me off the road and all the while offering me words of comfort and at the same time cursing my age and things we do to have fun. I really didn’t know what to make of all this. The circus had come to town in my head.

Lets fast forward, say, 15 years or so. You might imagine a mature young man filled with positivity, intelligence and the courage to take on the world. As I said, you can only imagine. Well, this time around it was a Suzuki GS-150 R which was my trusty steed. It was a beautiful and probably the best bike I’ve owned so far. It had a smooth engine though gentle vibrations passed to the palm of your hands through the handlebar reminding you of her pulse, a solidly sculpted tank that would perfectly wrap itself around your knees and slick gear-shifts that slotted in with the most reassuring clunk. Be it cold day (we don’t many of those in Chennai), a rainy day (we really don’t have many of those in Chennai) or a sunny day (Plenty of those, no shit!) it would never let me down and always breathe to life with just a touch of a button. It was pure love. I could never imagine letting it down. Well again, you could and here’s how.

It was half past three on a sunny afternoon and I was riding back from college with a certain haziness I must add. Lets just say we learnt a bit about “plant biology” that day and it was most hilarious. We laughed a lot because we couldn’t understand much of it but we still “took it all in”. Anyway, on the way back, maybe a kilometer or so away from home, I took a left on a rather narrow lane that would eventually lead to my house. At some point as I was hurtling down the road thinking I was Guy Martin (google that guy, he’s got a pair alright!), I glanced down to catch a glimpse of my key chain. And then I thought – what an amazing looking key chain. I never really took the time out to appreciate the colours, the design and craftsmanship that had gone into it. Then I thought if the world would ever have a gallery for key chains. I would pay big money to go there. I wonder what made…..SLAM!! OW! CRAP! Those three words didn’t really seem hilarious back then.
SLAM: Bike swerves right and hits oncoming auto rickshaw who apparently also swerves left
OW: Bike falls to the ground with me on it and then under it for a significant amount of time
CRAP: Painful damage to the bike – twisted handlebar, squashed tank metal, broken gear and brake lever and oh not to mention bruised hands, legs and torn clothes.

It is strange to think about it like this but I’ve felt like I truly bond with the bike/cycle only after its thrown me off its seat onto the road or pavement. It probably looks like I’m into some 50ShadesOfGrey trip but I honestly don’t think so. I’ve owned a number of bikes over the years but the memories of my falls have somehow defined my relation with the machine. Its like they say – you never really know a person until you have a fight with them. Its the same with the bike – you don’t really know your bike until you’ve fallen down with them. I love motorcycles and I love riding them even more and in this era of all-things-digital, riding a bike is the closest I’ll feel to riding a steed into the weary sunset.

-Naren Pasupaleti