Monday, July 30, 2007

Chen-nayee !!

Its rather strange that during my three years' life in Chennai, I have never written a single word about it. I guess now the time has come when I must dedicate at least one post to this city!

Chennai Central railway Station

Chennai, the veteran city is going through a phase of change. A couple of years ago, anyone visiting this city would easily have realized that its walls had not brushed against the winds of change for a very long time. But these days a gentle breeze can be felt. The city is changing. It is evolving and this evolution is more than welcome!

Tidel Park, OMR

You not only find the native people coming out of the shells of conventions and traditions but also a deluge of people from all corners of the country bringing a mix of new flavors. That, in no way means that the city is losing its identity. The willingness of the immigrants to adapt to the city and the city adapting to their needs ensures that the changes are only going to strengthen the identity of this 368 yrs old patriarch.

The greatest deponent of this change is the Old Mahabalipuram Road. The road, accommodating tens of kilometers, hundreds of Corporate Offices and thousands of working professionals, has seen a major face lift. The contour lines on both sides of the road have undergone drastic changes. Together with the East Coast Road which runs parallel to it, it makes ones travel between Chennai and Mahabalipuram a worthy experience.

Chennai's emergence as India's latest IT and Industrial hub and the vast amount of incoming traffic of men as well as money has rendered it with a new luster. Not that the city lacked in any kind of development work earlier but the development is much more visible now. Malls like Spencer's, City Centre and Ispahani Centre are becoming a common sight and so are the hi tech hangout places like Ascendas. The city is certainly gaining some 'class' now!

Spencer Plaza

City Centre

The three main concerns for any newcomer to the city have always been related to the weather, the food and the language. Well, while the climate has hardly shown any generosity in the recent years, the other two problems have certainly got pretty much diluted. The search for Rice-less food is not as taxing as it used to be and Hindi has seen a significant rise in its popularity within the city. The Globalization of India has led to the Nationalization of Chennai. As for the weather, 45 degrees is not an uncommon reading on Indian thermometers after all!

Compared to the other metros the best part about Chennai is that it still offers you the luxury of using your own vehicle to commute from one corner of the city to another. Here life may be a little slower, but the traffic isn't. With the MTC buses doing a marvelous job, even the public transport system in Chennai is far more comfortable and cheaper. The roads in the city are a little narrow but they ensure a smooth ride for all.

T Nagar The most crowded street- Ranganathan Street, The MTC Bus and Saravana Stores The cheapest and most popular retail stores Chain

Now, the areas where I would still like some improvements in the city are - the attitude of the natives towards outsiders, politeness, broadening of minds and a touch better aesthetic sense. Although the experiences may be rarer now, but sometimes outsiders and outcasts become synonyms in the city. This often hampers the regional harmony. Also, the masses here still belong to a society where not much importance is attached with manners and politeness. This gets rather discomforting at times. This state though, is bound to change as the city and with it, the people grow. Sometimes a few people here get confused between culture and orthodoxy. This leads to stagnation in the growth of certain sections of the society. But again, the winds of change are blowing the rudimentary dust away. One area where I personally feel Chennai must make more efforts is the improvement of sense of aesthetics and class. The thatched roofs between eye catching facades, the butcher shops in the posh markets, the scruffy look of even the air conditioned showrooms, the lack lustrous beaches (which although are cleaner than those in other cities) and in more ways than one, the whole look of the city isn't something that will please one's eyes. The ECR and OMR on the whole, are upcoming exceptions to this but they too in patches show similar characteristics. I would certainly like Chennai to get more classy. It can take a leaf or two from the book of Bangalore may be.
Well, now after begrudging this city for about three years I won't say that I have discovered a newfound love for it, but I am rather pleased with the direction in which Chennai is headed. Hopefully Chennai in a few years will become totally 'nayee' and then who knows? This might just be a dream destination for all!


  1. I am sure your contributions in making Chennai nayee would be appreciated in the future ;).

  2. You could have said Chein NAHI!! Nayee this word is confusing whether you are talking about it being NEW or ...