I visited Chennai, almost a year back, in the peak of Summers of 2015. This blog has been long pending, mainly because of two reasons. First, as I try and steer myself through the gradual transition of getting ready for my graduate school, there are way many things on higher priority than updating my blog.And second, I have come to firmly believe in the idea of – Every blog has its day, loosely translating into- It will get rolled out when it has the destiny to, so nothing before, nothing beyond. So, as I am watching the rains descend in the coastal megacity of Mumbai, I do quite remember the scorchy weekend spent well in Chennai with friends.
In the month of June, I traveled to Chennai to meet two friends – Bhavna and Vinod- who are based of Chennai. I took a night bus from Bangalore on a Friday night and reached Chennai in the morning at Thiruvanmiyur Bus station. Bhavna came to pick me up at bus station and gave me a scooty ride back home. I have always loved scooty rides, specially when you are experiencing new places, the scooty air really lets one get a have a hint of the spirit of the place or genius loci, or at least that is how I understand it.
Upon reaching Bhavna’s home, we had a hearty good home cooked Tamil breakfast. And it tasted even more awesome because Bhav’s granny cooked it. For all practical purposes I have found taste and warmth is directly proportional to the nth generational cooking (where n is in increasing order).
Post the breakfast, we decided to head out to Dakshinchitra – A curated museum housing the cultural artifacts of 4 southern Indian states namely- Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerela. In some sense, some exhibits also discusses tinge of coastal cultures like Konkan, which have remarkable symbiotic relationship with Karnataka. It houses museum exhibits on art, architecture, lifestyles, crafts and performing arts of South India. DakshinaChitra has a collection of 18 authentic historical houses with contextual exhibitions in each house. All the houses bought and reconstructed at DakshinaChitra had been given for demolition by their owners. The authentic homes in a regional vernacular style are purchased, taken down, transported and reconstructed by artisans ( Stapathis) of the regions from where the houses came. I and Bhavna spent quite some time pondering over architectural details of houses and the relationship between aesthetic manifestation and climatic response and cultural sensibility (The architecty :) talk).
A picture says a thousand words and thus three should say 3000. And that might be able to emote sufficiently on what these buildings hold in terms of workmanship and process story of house building in these 4 southern states of India.
While we were serious and discussing things those affect our professional know-hows, we were also hosting a gala reunion and this how it looked. A part of it also included going to a fortuneteller in the premise and speculating about what our lives might look like in 10 years from now. I dont know whether it shall turn out that way or any other way, but the experience of visiting a fortuneteller always initiates tying of unknown threads across own’s life timeline and that is quite some fun.
We spent whole of Saturday afternoon, seeing and thinking over, the museum. By the end, we got super tired and rushed back to home and quietly dozed off without taking the initiative to go on foodie spree in city. The below collage tries to sum the myriad of experiences Dakshinchitra confluences.
The next day we started out to see the old commercial part of the city. We took an MRTS and after an hour of train ride and glancing at the city from a height of 3m or so constantly, we reach our destination. Just across the station, we saw Madras Highcourt building, circum-navigating it, Bhavna informed me that our third companion for the day Kanmani shall join us. Here is a group Selfie to back it. :)
At a crossroad, we met and headed of to Armenian Church. It was a quite and peaceful church, open to only Armenians in Chennai and tucked along the street with a high boundary wall. This high boundary wall aloofs this quite pearl from the hustle bustle of the street. Once you cross the boundary wall, its just another world, where an old guard is perhaps the only villian who wants every visitor to shoo off as soon as possible. But getting to spend like 1/2 an hour in that church was worth listening to his cribbings onomatopoeic slang.
For the rest of the day, I kept wandering around the other important landmarks in the city like Lighthouse, San Thome Church, the High court and Madras Engineering College. Here are some snippets of those.
In the evening, I met another old friend of mine- Vinod, we started out our professional careers at the same architectural firm in Ahmedabad. What we really share in common is our foodie spirit. We had a home cooked dinner at his place in Adyar, a residential neighborhood of Chennai, which was quite delicious and Vinod’s mother served us lovingly. After having gulped enough to feel dizzy (as usual) I headed out to board my bus back to Bangalore. And what did I learn in Tamil : enge po, I guess it roughly translates to Where to ? And I imagine that is quite a philosophical question to ask. So well done Chennai, with that broody attitude.