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The Chennai of my Love

I have been living in Chennai for four years now. What does the city mean to me? Is it the bustling industrial metropolis that everyone from outside knows it as? Or is it the renamed Madras of old with its roots buried deep in traditions and culture? Is it the conspicuous south with the flavour of its own that resonates to us as soon as we step a foot inside its boundaries? 

Nope! For me Chennai means much more than this. It is synonymous with love. It is the city of my dreams. Now, why should this be the case? What makes Chennai any different from another Indian city? Is it the people? Is it the air? Is it the sea? I think what makes it different for me is a combination of all these factors and a plethora of others. The city of Chennai is an emotion. And it has to be felt to know its full breadth. Felt by living here, by travelling amok in its numerous byways and alleys, by soaking in the morning Sun at Marina, by spending a sultry afternoon under the balancing rock at Mahabalipuram, by listening to an evening Carnatic recital at Kalakshetra. 

My love affair with this fascinating city has given me a plentiful of memories to talk of. I remember the soothing sensation as the morning air gushes past me through the open window of the MTC bus plying on the road near Pallikaranai. I remember getting mesmerized upon sighting those birds in the sky as they glided above the Marsh. The sound of their chirpings imbued the heart with a quiet satisfaction. I remember feeling a sense of awe gazing at the city expanding below me from the vantage point of the beach lighthouse. How the ECR seemed to bifurcate the landmass, with the concrete buildings dotted with the green trees meeting the horizon at one end and the blue expanse of the ocean kissing it at the other. I remember being captivated by the graceful movements of a Bharatanatyam dancer one evening at Bharat Kalachar. How the very essence of this marvellous city seemed to emanate from her. I remember the sharp prickle of the filter coffee as I gulped it down at a shop in Mylapore one day. I remember walking around in the ancient streets of Triplicane, amongst the walls of centuries old Parthasarathy Temple there, where the chaotic hum-drum outside appeared to be a stark contrast to the peaceful abode of the God. 

And I also remember those large dark eyes of a local Tamil girl feigning surprise, when I stopped by her to ask a question. How the city can take us in and make us one of its own. Chennai is the city of my love and it is here where my heart resides. 

Note: written for

Some pics of Chennai
The view from Marina Lighthouse.
The East Coast Road runs parallel to the coastline and is a favorite for a picturesque trip to Pondicherry.

The Saint Thomas Mount as seen from the Alandur Metro Station.

The Bay of Bengal.

A mural inside one of the ancient caves at Mahabalipuram.
Mahabalipuram (aka Mamallapuram) is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site since 1984.

The Balancing Rock or Krishna's Butter Ball, also at Mahabalipuram.

The view of the southern sky from my hostel at IIITDM Kancheepuram.

The two elephants at Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Taramani.
IMSc is forever etched in my memory for that blissful summer I spent there. 😁

A scene from a theatrical Bharatnatyam performance.
This one in particular is from Sridevi Nrityalaya's Srinivasa Kalyanam from 2019.

A Chennai salai. Also visible is the MRTS, the first elevated railway network in India.
View from the bridge near the Indira Nagar station.

The tank adjoining the Kapleshwarar Temple (visible in the skyline) in Mylapore.
Rampant water shortage during the summer months is a recurring problem of the city.

Deers at IIT Madras campus, which is home to an assortment of flora and fauna.


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