Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chennai

I have always loved rain for some reason. The sky looks so fine and I love the smells that rain brings. It’s like rain has the power to penetrate into almost anything and then bring out its best. If you have ever been to the sea when it’s raining, then maybe you’ll understand. You can close your eyes and let the magic of all your other senses work; and it’ll reveal to you a lot of things that vision can never capture.

So it’s raining outside right now and instead of being out there enjoying it, I am sitting here and working. Sigh. Rain always brings back a lot of memories. I have always been a very water person; at least ever since my uncle threw me into the water (I was 6 yrs old I think) and made me learn swimming. My house in Kerala is only a 10 minute walk away from the sea and so you can imagine what kind of a childhood I would have had. Thanks to my maternal Uncle, we (referring to sister, cousins, friends and other extended family members, as we used to live in a joint family) used to go to the beach almost every other day and would play all evening, until we were exhausted and returned with tired limbs and sore throats owing to the continuous screaming, cheering and shouting. My uncle would then take us all to the Indian Coffee House close by and get us hot ethakka bajji and kappi. Then the noisy bunch of us would walk or take the bus home; all the while providing endless amusement to passers by. Now things have changed and the inevitable has happened: we all grew up. Studies, careers and marriages have thrown us around the globe and those who are together back home also find themselves lost in monotonous routine. Although I moved to Chennai to do my graduation, I did not really miss home as Chennai was a lot like home. In fact, over the years it has become a place I would consider home, like Kerala. And in Chennai, too, there were two beaches; beautiful ones. I really miss Chennai; the genuine people, the vast sea, the brilliant sky… Most of all, I miss the beautiful city itself, where there’s so much to see, do, discover.

Hyderabad, without a shadow of doubt, is perhaps the worst city to live in if you are someone like me, with a soul that’s hungry for beauty, excitement and zing. Hyderabad in the early mornings is as dead as a place can get. There is no friendly hustle bustle, chirping birds or anything of the sort. Nothing is alive; everything just exists. There is no celebration of art, culture and theatre. The days are quite uneventful and all that people here like to do is to party; Party all night and week long. And even the language lacks the beautiful rhythm that Malayalam and Tamil has. The words sound like there are no vowels and people communicate through sounds. I saw a boy selling bubbles the other day, beside the lake. There was a surge of joy as I bought a bottle from him and sat down to blow my worries away. And then. No bubbles. The solution was too watery or there was something wrong with the straw. But I'll blame it on the city that seems to have a fierce aversion to happiness. Life is just plain depressing. To make things worse, the city is culturally dead. (Did I mention that before?)

This post is to declare my love for Chennai and all the hidden poetry that the city contains between its folds. Chennai – a brigadoon of sorts with the most wonderful coffee, fine theatre, real people, deep blue sea, perfect full moon nights, vast radiant sky, lovely rains, delicate yellow flowers, language charged with music, perpetually alive streets – the city that gave me so much, where I found and lost love (or something close to it), where I learned and unlearned, where I have seen the prettiest of sights, where the sky never fails to smile and the moon continues to shine.

Who reads this stuff, anyway?