Chennai Dairies: A sultry welcome

To recap, after incessant multiple attempts, I again couldn’t scale “The Wall“- The ‘Civil Services Mains examination’ in 2015. After roaming in the ‘wilderness’ for far too long, I decided to bite the bullet and embark on my “settling” phase of life and have joined as a TA(Tax Assistant) in Chennai Customs house, Central Board of Excise and Customs. So here I am, in Chennai, working for the government of India and looking forward to new adventures.

First Impressions of Chennai

The Bad:

Let me address those issue which I didn’t like about Chennai, which by the way are far and few.

  • Biryani: Having been a Biryani lover for many years and having grown up in the Biryani ‘paradise’ of the world, one of my first exploration of Chennai was to check out its Biriyani restaurants. And boy! was I disappointed. I purposefully visited a location in Chennai with a sizeable Muslim population(in Triplicane), to get the authentic Chennai Biryani. In a line of Biryani restaurants, I choose the one that looked a bit ‘fancy’ from the outside(rest of them were too ‘local’). But the ambience inside the restaurant was starkly different, having cheap chairs and tables, and no A/C. However the prices were very low; I ordered a plate of chicken Biriyani(for Rs 90) and a Pepsi. The Biryani was served in a plate which had a banana leaf on it, which I guess makes it easy to clean the plates and saves water which would have been required to clean off all that grease from the Biriyani. The Chicken was cooked with its skin intact, which was disgusting to look at. The rice used was not as aromatic as one would expect and it was too ‘orange’ in color for my liking And by the way, Chennaites call Biryani as Briyani(not as ammusing as “La Royale with Cheese”), or atleast that’s how it is written on the hotels’ boards and the menu.
  • Humidity: Although I am enjoying the cool sea breeze, the profuse sweating feels irritating. For a lazy bum like me, bathing two times a day(or even 3) and washing the clothes after wearing them only once becomes a pain in the ass!

The Good:

  • The people: Who ever propagated the stereotype that Chennaites are unwelcoming to ‘foreigners’ were probably projecting their own feelings, or at least that is not what I have experienced in these first few days here. Indeed, many local people were kind to me, helping me out with finding addresses and giving helpful advice. In fact, I was actually fleeced by a non-local, a Andhra(a place from where I come) auto driver who charged me Rs 300 for a 4 km drive. But, of-course there are some rude and nasty people like the one bus conductor who wouldn’t tell me the right bus stop to disembark and made me get down at the wrong stop, but those are exceptions and you may find such people every where. In conclusion, people here are as wonderful and and as kind as any where else and you will come to appreciate their kindness.
  • Local trains: The ticket prices of Chennai local trains are so damn cheap that I almost feel guilty for paying far too less for the wonderful service they provide. The trains are regular, fast and they reach almost all parts of the city. You can download this mobile app here, to know more about the timings and map of its reach.
  • Sea Breeze: My PG is with in 200 meters from the Marina Beach, which is one of the most popular destination for the localites to chill out in the evenings. As my building is not surrounded by other constructions, I enjoy a constant cool sea breeze travelling from the sea towards land in mornings and from land towards sea in evenings(because of faster warming and cooling of land than water). I am enjoying this nature of wind very much.
  • History and Culture: Chennai is a haven for history geeks like myself. Do you know that Chennai is the first place where Britishers built a fort in India(St George fort) and many of its places like Thiruvallikeni and Mylapore have ancient history. I can’t wait to read and visit all those historical places and satisfy my inner historian’s curiosity. Also, being the capital city of Tamil Nadu, Chennai has a constant cultural buzz, hosting varied cultural events through out the year. If you know the right events to attend, you will never get bored here.
  • My Idols: Finally, I get to share the city-space with some of my biggest filmi idols such as AR Rahman, Mani Ratnam and Kamal Hassan, so three hurrays for that!

I hope to discover more ‘good’ about Chennai in coming months and share the interesting bits about this city on my blog 🙂



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