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Posts tagged ‘chennai’

Faith & Belief, in Chennai crumbles!


The point which, as I understand of the verse today is that, there is no way we can eliminate ALL the problems of Life. But each individual through humility, skill and effort should do that which is required to be done to the best of his belief, ability and knowledge. The episode which I want to bring to focus is the crumbling of one of the Multi Storied Building(MSB) named FAITH and BELIEF, which crumbled trapping unnumbered humans in the city of Chennai in a locality called Moulivalkam. 

The number of floors  of each of the towers is 11 floors. One tower has fully collapsed- thankfully, the apartments had NOT been occupied. When scientific knowledge had not evolved to the extent, it was told: WISE is the man who built his house on the ROCK. A strong footing is essential to place a building so that the internal disturbances or the external vicissitudes do not impact a building to the extent of making it crumble. That is why we have SOIL TESTING and STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS. 

One doesn’t know the condition of the soil or the layers which lie beneath the surface and unless the soil is understood and suitable structure is raised one is sitting on a time-bomb – only thing is that when the TIME is or when that TIME would be triggered is NOT KNOWN. 

The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), does not look into the soil report or the structural design of an MSB plan before approving it. Now that we are all wiser by hindsight, it is time that CMDA has its own soil testing and structural design engineers who would approve MSB projects for which interested parties submit their plan. 

The problem is that most of the MSBs are joint ventures, which means there are four interested parties: the land owner, the builder, the banker, and the buyer of an apartment. Except for the banker, none of them CAN wait. The builder wants to sell his share of the apartments and exit to the next project; the land-owner wants his share for possession and disposal of some apartments which fall to his share so that he could create liquidity; the buyer wants to occupy quickly or put it on rent: but the only person who is in no hurry is the BANKER who wants as much delay so that his interest component goes up or the builder defaults and the banker acquires a right in his share of the apartments for auction!

In this background, doing multiple soil testing, getting a proven structural engineer (who does not go by the builder’s request for keeping the cost low!) are the barest minimum. But in Chennai, because of the stable real estate prices, every tom, dick and harry who has land or liquidity has become a BUILDER without having either the diligence nor the knowledge to handle MSB projects. 

While sympathizing with those persons who have lost their near and dear ones and still hoping that they would be found ALIVE, it is time that the Tamil Nadu government legislated on the requirement of soil testing and thereafter doing the structural designing of the foundation, failing which the government would be encouraging the carpet baggers to become fly by night builders having NO social responsibility. The biggest problem that one faces with the FOUNDATION is that there is seldom any room for REVISITING the issues, primarily because, the problems do not show up before tragedy strikes.


Understanding Chennai!

The most difficult hurdle to overcome about Chennai is the barrier of PROCEDURE, which are strewn all over the place. It is not difficult to find a procedure, which seems irrational at the first look, but the deeper one gets into the procedure one understands that these procedures are not only laid down but implemented scrupulously- to start with!

For example, to get a ticket for a first day show of any Rajini starrer is nigh impossible- unless one has diligently pursued the procurement of the ticket in advance. So, for the movie SIVAJI (SHIVAJI for the glottalized Sanskritwallahs!) I was accompanied by my family and we made our way to the entrance after jostling against a sea of crowd consisting of of lungi wearing boisterous young men, middle class families and all other types. When we reached the entrance the crowd was segregated gender-wise and me and my wife, who were united in a Holy Matrimony by God, were parted to take different queues. The next was the metal detector but before that the frisking! So i was frisked and the frisker feels the cigarette packet in my trouser pocket and tells me to take it out. With no sense of compunction i take the cigarette case and tell the frisker triumphantly that I do not have any matches or lighter! To my utter surprise the frisker tells me to drop the cigarette box along with the contents in a cardboard box set a little away from the frisking point  (in Chennai they do not believe in providing tokens for your belongings and securing them- especially cigarettes- that is the moral text there!). Just before getting into the cinema I had bought those cigarettes, so that at midnight i do not have to go hunting for cigarettes after the movie was over. The crowd behind me was milling and i had no time to get back to my car and leave the pack and get back. My sons were egging me to do as told. I had a quick peep into the cardboard box and saw a whole lotta cigarette boxes lying therein. Of course those who had dropped were not fools- the inner voice which works in flashes told me. Yet the innate smartness gathered through association with the Chennaivasis and reading gave a counter idea – You are just required not to take cigarettes into the cinema, and you are not getting the same back- so just pull out all the 20 cigarettes and twist them into tobacco lumps and dump them, so that even these friskers and their cohorts would not be able to benefit from those cigarettes.

So in one swish i pulled out those cigarettes and in the anxious view of the frisker, twisted the cigarettes and with all the gusto of a man performing a ritual on a new year’s eve towards initiating a resolution, i crumpled the cigarettes and threw the lumps inside. The frisker was having a disappointed look, whereas some of those in the queue were happy and even said, “Good sir, those fellows just want to steal our cigarettes that way!” I felt a sudden brotherhood surging in my heart with those sympathizers.

Coming back to the thread of PROCEDURES OF CHENNAI, it is only the matches and lighters which are required to be dropped, so that none has access to any material which could be used for nefarious purposes. Even in aircrafts, where the security requirements are stringent, there is no procedure for not taking cigarettes, but in a cinema hall, the management had prescribed a rule to not only deprive an exorbitantly excise paying individual from enjoying a smoke in the interval but denudes him of cigarettes he carries for future use. Suddenly, like in the NDPS Act, tobacco possession becomes an offence! So cigarette is a CONTRABAND item. The only way to overcome the rule is to deprive the benefits that “might” accrue to the friskers and other low level personnel of the hall, and also show like a defeated army regressing to backward positions after destroying the assets in its possession.

This procedure laid by the cinema hall conductors was an overkill of the objectives to be met for the proper conduct of the screening. They had taken advantage of the crowd and the situation to impose and implement a procedure.

Likewise, in Chennai, at every level one can find all kinds of procedures laid down for any progress in the matter. These will have to be viewed as a barrier and complied with or ‘jumped over’. The biggest barriers are the MORAL PRESCRIPTIONS which are strewn around and if the weak hearted stumble upon those, they are discouraged from pursuing their objectives. But those who have sufficient experience in the Chennai ways adeptly jump over or make a by-pass to those hurdles and continue their journey. It is that mental alertness which is important and any amount of arguing will lead a man nowhere.

In certain other parts of our great country, when they prescribe a procedure which curtails the LIBERTY of an individual, the procedure is sugar coated to avoid the denizens from feeling that their “rights” are being curtailed, but not so in Chennai- they are BLATANT.

So in effect a Chennaivasi, has learnt all the procedures and keeps parroting the same, whereas the go getters know that the procedures are there merely to reduce the crowding and find means and ways to circumvent the irrational procedures.

So what happens in the long run is that every Madrasvasi gets to talk high moral norms but makes convenient choices for himself. The reader may be tempted to call that HYPOCRISY, but i beg to differ- it is learning to live life in one’s own terms but at the same time not offending the sensibilities of those who have nothing to do except by-heart the procedures!


Chennai is not merely the Detroit of India but also the PROCEDURE CAPITAL of INDIA! Long live the procedures!

TAMARIND CITY – the book.

Bishwanath Ghosh, a print media person originally from Uttar Pradesh with Bengali ethnicity, has written a book called TAMARIND CITY, which he goes on to add as MAKING OF THE MODERN INDIA. The book deals with the city of CHENNAI, since its formation in 1640 and the various cultural, political threads which have woven the city into what it is today.

I enjoyed reading the book, maybe because i am familiar with the places and the people’s attitude that he enumerates in the book.

His research into the historical FACTS to put together this book is praiseworthy.

Since, Bishwanath Ghosh had not been steeped in the Madrasi culture and originally hails from Uttar Pradesh his presentation, therefore,  is fresh and has a certain innocence to it.  He had interviewed many people including Saroja Devi (former Tamil actress), Dr Kamala Selvaraj (gynaecologist), Mr. Muthaiah (the Chennai historian), Ms. Meena Kandasamy (dalit activist and a poetess) etc., which lend credibility to his presentation.

But it is his personal experiences in Chennai which stamps the hallmark of authenticity to the book. When he discovers a heap of condoms in the Marina beach and when his lady friend says, “KAIKKU ANJU, VAAIKKU PATHTHU” there is an IMMEDIACY to his averment that Chennai beneath the thick layer of tradition is nothing but a molten lava of all kinds of activity!

The interview based presentations are too bland, especially Bishwanath Ghosh’s meeting with Saroja Devi and her statements about herself are very self-redeeming! I wish Bishwanath Ghosh had put in a lot more effort to pull out the sleaze which , probably, lies hidden under the mount of self redeeming interviews and media management. In any case, Bishwanath Ghosh would not have been in any position to write like our good old Kushwant Singh, as Mr. Ghosh wangled most of the interviews based on his credibility as a person working for THE HINDU or as a media person.

But his effort to ferret out history accurately and show that Modern India was built on the foundations laid at Madras is laudable. That Madras was the first centre for the East India Company and that their stability in Chennai helped the British to capture Bengal or  create Mumbai are FACTS; but to say that Madras was the starting point of Modern India is an INFERENCE, which he may still have to fortify with facts for people to accept!

His dilated presentation of the ‘TAMBRAM’ (shortened for for TAMIL BRAHMIN)  with reference to  the existing divisions of IYERS and IYENGARS,  should definitely help my North Indian brethren and sisters to have clarity over the unbridgeable divide!

The book is definitely worth reading.

The two historical inputs which have shaken me to my bones are the inputs relating to Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington) and Elihu Yale.

Duke of Wellington is ascribed the quote , ” THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO WAS DECIDED ON THE PLAYGROUNDS OF ETON AND HARROW”, thereby implying that the discipline shown by the sailors/ navy men in the Battle of Waterloo was inculcated in the public schools of London and that led to the victory. But after going through the book, it seems that the DUKE of WELLINGTON honed his ability as a future Admiral by knowing how to keep accounts from the Chettiars and Pillais of Chennai’ and also developing the skill to be an able admiral by building his skills in COMMUNICATIONS from Fort St. George!

The second one relating to Elihu Yale, in even more intriguing. Elihu while he was the Governor of Madras, had abolished a system for procurement and thereby enriched himself. A part of the ill-gotten money seems to have been DONATED by the said Yale to the University which had been subsequently named after him. If the naming was because of his donation, then it is WORSE, but if it was because of his eminence as an Administrator, it is BAD.

Anyway, as my senior said, don’t worry, after all YALE UNIVERSITY discharged its obligation by conferring a Doctorate degree on C N ANNADURAI, while he was the CM of Tamil Nadu.  Some repayment of debt for all the looting Elihu Yale did.

Cat fight on ECR, Chennai!

It has been the pet notion of many in the parts North of the Vindhyas that Chennai, formerly MADRAS, was a conservative city producing timid bureaucrats and clerks in good measure. This perception has been propagated, in no small measure, by the Hindi cinemas, where an innocent looking Tamizh Brahmin boy matures into a bookish type, taking a public exam and gets into a government job and attends his humdrum job with a streak of holy ash either vertically or horizontally drawn (depending on whether he is a Vaishnavite or Shaivite) and attending to his tasks dutifully, day in and day out. He is portrayed as one who shuns controversies and runs away from a place which might disturb his peace.

This portrayal has taken deep roots, and when people north of Vindhyas see other types of belligerent and combative Tamizhs, it shakes the very foundation of their beliefs. Most succeed in believing that the belligerent and combative ones are aberrations and that a true blue MADRASI “OUGHT” to be TIMID and COMPLIANT! So much for false beliefs disseminated by other language  movies, based on an expatriate  unrepresentative few.

A true blue Tamizh is combative and he is ready to rise and defend himself and mostly his language, which is the mother software to his thinking process. This morning, in TIMES OF INDIA (10/05/2012) there was this article about a woman of 35 years chasing a 25 year old woman on the EAST COAST ROAD  in a car, overtaking the younger one and blocking the car and picking a street fight with the younger one, as the wife (the older one) believed that the younger one was not merely sharing her husband, but also his “resources”!

The above link would bear me out on the gist presented.

So where is the man? And while the two cars were on a chase, a few motorbike borne guys followed the cars! I LOVE IT MAN. If there is sincerity to such a story, it could be only in CHENNAI. The interesting part is that the altercation was publicized by the older woman and there was no bloody violence. There was a mere verbal fight over the younger woman stealing the resources of the man who had probably been nursed by the older woman into his present state of success!

To exemplify my point, if MACBETH after murdering DUNCAN and assuming the Kingship were to fall in love with a pretty young thing and spend his resources on the young one, LADY MACBETH would not have taken kindly to such a liaison by the younger woman. LADY MACBETH would have taken out her anger on the younger woman and not on the King MACBETH, as she would not want to destroy the comfort of being the queen, yet would do everything to decimate the resource sharing aspirations of the younger females . But fortunately, India is a democratic country.

Chennai is evolving into a DETROIT in FLORIDA! A geographical impossibility in the US, but considering Chennai turning out to be the automotive capital of the Country with a weather and a coastline state highway, qualifies for such a possibility in India!

What i like about the whole incident is that, there was no internecine and murderous intent by the older woman. She wanted to take off on the younger woman and make a good scene of it. Maybe, the older woman wanted to DEMONSTRATE to “THEIR” man, that she would go to any lengths to not only keep him but also “fight” for him! And she wants all to LIVE PEACEABLY without believing in getting her opponent murdered or maimed and spend the rest of her life between courts and jails!

But the biggest problem that a woman finds to overcome is that when she had taken a man under her wings and nursed him to success and then to see that the man fall for a woman, who knows nothing of his weak past, and hero-worships him into a different type of MANHOOD!

MY SYMPATHIES ARE WITH NEITHER, LIFE GOES ON WITH ALL ITS CONVOLUTIONS! Yet, AS SHAKESPEARE SAID, ” FOR WILL IN US IS OVERRULED BY FATE!” But it is the duty of everyone to keep our reactions outside the zone of violence and crime.



why this kolaveri di?

This is a song by Tamil actor Dhanush, who has used typical Madras Tamlish to sing this song. What is great is that this song could have come only from Tamil Nadu. But why?

The reason is fundamental, cine songs in Tamil had reached such classical proportions that music directors in Tamil from Viswanathan- Ramamurthi, Illayaraja, A R Rahman, Vidyasagar have all made melody or rhythm or both the bed rock of their music making the music relatable to notes of other songs which had been made earlier. With Tamil lyricists also getting in a whole host of CHEMMOZHI THAMIZH words in,  common man was getting sick of all this pseudo classicism which had become all pervasive in the Tamil cine industry. Any new song was redolent of another song made by another music director a few decades back.

Coming back to,  why this type could have emanated only from Tamil Nadu?

Because anyone could straw paint out of paint buckets and sprinkle paint out of  dripping paint brushes like Jackson Pollock, but for the public and peers to recognize a person as an ARTIST, one should have exhibited classical skills. The IMPROVISATION would be accepted as ART only after proving one’s skill. That has happened in TAMIL CINE industry. If John Coltrane and Louis Armstrong had not played the classical notes to start with, their IMPROVISATIONS would have passed of as childish babble. Likewise since this song blends local Tamil with the inner feelings of  a dark complexioned Tamil boy going thru a crisis ridden adolescence, in the backdrop of  a dying classical background, an average Tamil guy identifies with this song  easily . A cultural thread that most Tamil boys carry into their adulthood.

This song is a BREAK FREE song from the classical mould, fashioned  over a period of time.

This song announces the arrival of TAMIL JAZZ BLUES. Actually, come to think of it, the -U- which is appended to every word is more the Telugu influence than Tamil. The Telugu financiers of the Tamil Cine industry seem to have put their little sting to the tail of every word.


Chennai is the Chicago of India, besides being the Detroit too!! LOL



Metro in India could mean the tube or also the METROPOLITAN cities. I’m here wanting to blog on METROPOLITAN CITIES.

In the wake of the parochialism that is being spread thru SONS OF THE SOIL concept, it is time for the parliament to step in and decide the issue based on debate and making locals realize that neither them nor their forebears are responsible for the growth of the cities which are called METROS.

The metros that i am talking of are DELHI, MUMBAI, CHENNAI and KOLKATA. Delhi is the capital of the country and every Indian has the right to access and seek jobs there, buy property and make it his place of domicile.

Prior to India’s independence Bombay, Madras and Calcutta had found a place in the International map as CITIES of repute. One shud also include Lahore, Karachi and Dacca in that list. Therefore the three  cities, which are in today’s India, were not built into these huge METROPOLISES after the advent of the DIVISION OF STATES ON LINGUISTIC basis from the mid 50’s onwards.

MADRAS was appropriated by the then Madras state and Bombay by Maharashtra, but Calcutta was always with West Bengal. The composite culture that pervaded those two cities ie. Bombay and Madras have slowly been taken over by the local politicians and have infused a belief that merely because the respective cities are their state capitals, they shud be made the fief of the majority linguistic community of that state.

The malaise that we see today-in the form of violence- is nothing but a symptom of that belief, that had been allowed to creep into the consciousness of the locals and bandied about as a RIGHT. BOMBAY’s wealth is not merely the product of the labour of the locals. Even assuming that it is entirely their labour, if INDIA did not provide inter-state trade and the  CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT that no discriminatory taxes could be imposed by another state, where could  the BOMBAY FILM INDUSTRY have found  paying viewers? If such a right had not been constitutionally granted, where could the LUCAS-TVS sold all its automotive electrical parts manufactured around Madras?


How are we gonna create a NATION if we launch such parochial issues which assault the constitution of INDIA?

The only solution lies in the MODEL OF CHANDIGARH. Which is a UNION TERRITORY but the capital of Two states (Haryana & Punjab). After all, as already pointed out, let us nationalize MUMBAI and CHENNAI and make it the second and third cities which vest every INDIAN WITH THE RIGHT to work or stay without any over-riding rights by the locals.

I know it is too idealistic, but let each INDIAN start a soul-searching on these lines.


The only two metro cities that are so proximate, in India, that could be traversed to and fro by road the same day are Chennai and Bangalore. Both the cities are so different, that it is worth traveling as often as possible, just to savour the difference.

The road route from Chennai would be Sriperumbudur, Kanchipuram, Ranipet/Arcot, Vellore, Ambur, Vaniyambadi, Krishnagiri, Hosur and Bangalore. This is if one wishes to travel availing of the NHAI(National Highways Authority of India) toll Road. The alternate route via Walajhapet, Chittoor, Kolar and Bangalore is not a two-carriage way and the road is not exactly a driver’s delight. The NHAI route is preferable on the count of driver’s comfort and also on the count that one gets to feel the variegated spread of the towns and cities of Tamil Nadu.

One of the most famous cases in the Environmental Law is the case popularly called the Vellore Citizen’s Forum case, wherein the rationale for clean environment for the citizens of a locality has been nicely balanced vis-a-vis growth. When one passes by Vellore, one is reminded of this case law. The towns of Ambur, Vaniyambadi etc are centres of leather processing units. In Ambur there is a Restaurant called Khaja, which serves decent Biryani. Beside this restaurant is another Restaurant called TAJ, a joint which is sparsely visited by the locals and therefore may not be of even the levels of Khaja Restaurant. For the vegetarians there is SHANKAR’S CAFE– which serves tiffin (a Tamil nomer for snacks!) till 11 in the morning and MEALS thereafter. But on the whole, the cleanliness in both these restaurants leave a lot to be desired.

Ambur, being the mid-way between the metros mentioned above, happens to be the stopping point of most of the travelers who do this stretch. So to be familiar with the eating joints at Ambur may be helpful. At noon, there is a place where good biryani is stated to be available on the bus station side viz. STAR BIRYANI. I was not in the least impressed with what they dish out.

May it be said as a word of caution that the Biryani available in Ambur is not a patch on the Biryani available at KARIM’S at Delhi or at Hyderabad. The aroma of the biryani from KARIM’S at Jumma Masjid lingers and wafts forever in one’s mind much after one has consumed. That is a class in itself and the food fit for Emperors, as claimed by them, is truly being served at KARIM’S.

The by-passes built by the NHAI allows one to side-step most of the towns except Ambur and that is one more reason why one can have a repast there.

Coming to the differences between Chennai and Bangalore, Chennai is the capital of the state that could legitimately boast itself of being the state which uses the only LIVE classical INTERNATIONAL language of India. Bangalore is likely to become the state HQ of the third classical language of India- Kannada.

People in Chennai are hard-working and the weather conditions make it difficult for persons to be in bed beyond sunrise. Whereas, Bangalore has a perennially clement weather which gives a greater latitude for persons to pursue their proclivities- therefore MAXIMIZING profits is the priority of the denizens. A plumbing, electrical, carpentry work for half-a-day could cost one a cool Rs.750/- and there are agencies which live off these semi-skilled labourers in Bangalore. So the Time of even the least of all the inhabitants of Bangalore is precious.

Chennai, during 11 months in a year, has steamy hot weather. The reprieve, if any, is felt only during the months of December and January. But it has its charms, like the Marina Beach on a drizzly evening is a delight incomparable. It brings wetness to the soil and moisture to the soul- which make men go on the hop and women the whole hog!!

Bangalore has many malls which open so early that it is not uncommon for young boys and girls to land up in the morning and laze till night fall. Bangalore is cosmopolitan and it is the least fanatical of its language or its culture/heritage. One can manage with Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu and English. Every person is a polyglot- I sometimes wonder in which language these polyglots think!

There is not a single road like Brigade Road or MG road in Chennai to match the city of Bangalore. The goods are overpriced and tastefully displayed- yet it is a pleasant experience esp. for the youth.

More than anything else if u do anything differently in Bangalore, it runs the risk of becoming FASHION; but if u do anything differently in Chennai u are likely to get sniggers and scowls. In Bangalore WHAT WAS DONE is important,in Chennai WHO DID WHAT is important. Bangalore is not only less regulated than Chennai, but also less JUDGMENTAL.

The best combination is to shuttle between these two cities for work in Chennai and spend the weekends in Bangalore; but shuttle in a BMW VII series!

God help me.

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