As I prepare to spend my last week in Chennai, in what I hope is a temporary Good-Bye, I try to dissect as to why I love this city so damn very much!
To put it in two words “STOCKHOLM SYNDROME“
This city battered me, bruised me, tortured me with its weather, and more it did so more I fel in love with it!
But before all this, before I came to this city, there was a special relationship I had with this city since childhood.
When I came to TamilNadu, that too to a place called Sulur(a semi rural town near Coimbatore) as a “Amit” after spending the first 5 years of my life in “Bombay“, you could understand how I was. I just wanted to escape away from that place. I never knew any place in TN. All i wanted to do was go back to Bombay!
Then reality dawned there was no route of escape back, I wanted a new place to aspire for.. It was at that time my mom was teaching the geography of TamilNadu, why it was named so and she was describing Madras, Madarasapattinam, and THERE IT WAS.. Sitting smugly in the top right corner of Tamil Nadu map, on sea border like the crown jewel of this state…
Immediately I knew where I wanted to be.
After that every year I used to pester my Dad, ‘When are we going to Chennai? Why can’t we go there now itself?’ Every possible tantrum I could throw, I threw..
Then in my 3rd Std I finally got my wish albeit it was not a good one! Apparently my asthmatic and wheeze problem got aggravated so much due to my stay in Coimbatore that my parents sought appointment with the great Doctor Deivanayagam.
Though still suffering from Asthma I was so excited about my trip which was going there by morning and returning night by Train. My first exposure can be aptly named a ‘Short Blast’
The city was so full of people and that too the Doctor’s home being in T-Nagar I got to see the great Ranganathan Street, and I finally found a place much cooler(in hipster sense, not weather) than Bombay.
After my first exposure I was a Smitten Monkey.. I never stopped pestering my Dad to get transfer to Madras. Every time the news of transfers in my Dad’s bank came suddenly I was the one more concerned about my Dad’s future than he himself was!!
Then Nagercoil came and went..(In retrospect such lovely place to be, which I never quite enjoyed because of my prejudice towards Chennai)
Then Salem, my Dad’s dream place to work, with all my relatives there and as his new post as Manager, he really planned for long term there. Finally I began to think my dream of going to Madras will be an unfulfilled one, as i reluctantly began settling into my Salem life(which I won’t lie was very much enjoyable, though NEVER MADRAS :P)
And finally after 5 years, and even I slowly began forgetting my dream city, came the sweet news! Dad was transferred to Chennai! My Dad was crestfallen, my Mom even so, all my relatives were even so, but guess who could never hide his smug face and never stopped gloating? ME..
I was so happy that in a hurry to reach Madras(which became Chennai by that time) that I never could say a proper goodbye to my friends and family and neighbours back in Salem!!
A dream harbored for 7 long years! My Dad was initally promised AnnaNagar branch which made him rent a house in what I still believe is the plush-est locality in Chennai, ANNA NAGAR. I felt I was living a dream..
Roads as wide as main roads in Salem..
Trees on both sides of road(THAT IS FREAKING BOTH SIDES, CONTINUOUS!! HOW DID THEY EVEN PLAN AND PLANT THEM??!!)
Cars, a lot of Cars.. Shops which I never heard of before!(Those days a shop like “Connexions” made me go “WOW” :P)
If at all after all this ‘Shock & Awe’ settled down, the one thing I missed were the people.. City life makes us lose that empathy, and tunes us into this Rat-Race called life that often we don’t care about relationships. Its always I, Me, Myself! This was even more evident in Schools. Instant success, Instant recognition,
“You do what I ask of you I will treat you King, if you don’t I won’t even know who you are”
this was the prevailing attitude in both the schools I studied. I never knew about boarding schools outside Chennai but for a guy like me who came from semi-urban schools this was a big culture shock!
And then my parents had their own adjustments to make and settle, but then from 9th till now is definitely what I will call the GOLDEN PERIOD OF MY LIFE.
I passed out school, as a guy who was sure what his life’s ambition was…
Electronics, Communication & Engineering” @ Anna University & then somehow get into work at MICROSOFT!
Oh. Cruel. Irony. Life is…
Then came my unexpectedly good results in Biology Entrance & my Dad got smitten with the idea of making me the first Doctor in the family!
I protested, detested, ultimately supressed, oppressed and finally depressed, accepted the bargain from my Dad. If I get MBBS in Chennai colleges I will do.. or else I will do ECE at Anna University.
The first counselling everything was going so smoothly. Kilpauk Med College the last one to fill amongst in Chennai got filled 10 ranks before me!
That momentary happiness was lost when my Dad made me take Coimbatore Medical College.. Then brain-washing started beginning. The greatness of MBBS, the uncertainties of Engineering jobs, even the reduced life span of Engineers, every last dice was thrown to change my mind.
I was adamant at first then relented a little when Dad said there was a possibility in Second Counselling I might KMC, I went to Engg Counselling, took ECE, lived the life I dreamt of for a day..
Forced back into MBBS, bided my time till second counselling,
AND THE REST THEY SAY IS HISTORY…
This City taught me a lot of things, but never in an easy way.. It made me suffer first. Then made me learn from it.. Some of my most happiest memories & my most saddest memories happened in this City..
I was nobody before I came to this City and this city made me Somebody.
As days dwindle I just sleep less and less. I want every hour I am in this city count. I go to places I never went, just aimlessly travel in bike around city, go back visit my Alma Mater, everything I just want as visual memories when I leave. Something to help me when I am down in the new place..
When I left for Kerala last year the panic was not this much, because I always knew I would come back here & my dream was always to do Ortho at Royapettah. So I always thought of long and prosperous future in Chennai..
This City gave me my best friends, gave me my college, gave me an identity, helped me from being a fat shy guy with stage-fright, become a self-confident, chatterbox (although even fatter:( ) & finally became part of my life.
And now which ever part of World I go I will proudly say “Yes, I am from Chennai”
Here is to hoping this is nothing but a temporary Goodbye and hopefully I come back start a life here and continue my never ending romance with this wonderful city…
VIVA LA VIDA CHENNAI ❤