Definition of Travelogue – A lecture about travel. And thus, here we start…
My parents and me journeyed to a place in Chennai called Chromepet some 20 plus years ago. We have been traveling in and out of the place ever since. However, whenever we are here, we stay at the same house. Our apartment is surrounded by little greenery and houses on all sides (believe it or not) and sometimes filled with the droning sound of the motor. There are countless memories related to this place. Hence for now, I give you a day’s happenings’ recount.
The alarm starts ringing from 5.30 AM and goes on till 6.10 AM. I have been hitting the snooze button seeing my phone through the thin seam between my eyelids all this time. Finally I get up, brush my teeth, have coffee and start out for a morning walk.
The sights outside on a busy weekday morning always fascinates me. The locality is buzzing with people – mama’s and mami’s on their way home from the temple holding a “dhonnai” – a cup made of dried leaves and pinned with tiny sticks – full of pongal (Margazhi special)… men in trousers (ara nijar in my Thatha’s vocabulary) buying newspaper and milk… college students waiting for their college buses – please note that most of the private colleges in Chennai have early bus timings owing to the fact that they are all situated amidst forests / lakes / deserts in the outskirts of the city… “share – autos” carrying sleepyheads heading to office… A stray person recognizing me and “enna, walking ah?” How does it seem to you – like I am brushing my teeth, or what? 😛
The situation changes in the main road on my return journey. College students are replaced by office goers in bus stands; “share – autos” carry double the load than my previous mention; kids laden with schoolbags as big as them, moms trailing behind giving instructions non – stop. And there is this old auto wala I try to avoid to and fro my walk, because this guy accuses me for his loss of income. Old man, who on earth goes for morning walks in auto?! :O
Later in the morning, on my way to this building called “Chennai One”, just before I enter it, a beautiful sight awaits me. An expanse of more than a km on either side are water bodies. I tell you beforehand that they are lakes – you can’t identify at first sight, there is more garbage in it than water is. Pretty useful, I should say, for dumping garbage / sewage. Especially when it rains, the lake emanates a fragrance that makes me don my stole like a terrorist for crossing this stretch!
However, the constricted view from inside glass – sealed windows is really good. The reason being, the smell is eliminated and the dumped region can be conveniently ignored. This month is apt for the migratory birds. We (the usual gang that goes for coffee together) stand near one such window admiring the birds during break.
What a flock of birds! Around 500 in total. They fly in different groups, each in one direction. One group from south to north and the other, east to west, say. Suddenly some of the birds from the former group delink themselves and join the latter. Some confusion within the ranks, presumably. Four of them detach from the rest and fly low towards the swamp. This triggers in motion more birds that were previously sitting and a newer flock emerges. Thus the play continues and its a cute phenomenon to observe.
Another notable sight is the sunset through these windows in the evening. Unfortunately, I have never managed to capture it as a 2D image and be equally impressed with it. Maybe the dispersion does not happen that well through the lenses 😉 😛
Traveling in bus is by itself an experience in Chennai. Like everywhere, the important routes and peak hours operate full houses in buses. And the preferred places to stand are the poles near alternate seats – easily 4 people will be fighting (cold war types, nothing violent) for a hold there at anytime. Also if you end up standing somewhere in between the two entrances, then you get the opportunity to do social service as well. Ticket – buying – for – others is an art that only daily commuters can excel in. It involves a lot of complexities, viz.. remembering who gave how much money, which place they are commuting to, if the ticket that is in your hand right now is your ticket or someone else’s :P, and in case there is a change due kept by the conductor and you are the one passing on the money and ticket, you get to soon pass the “polambal”s and abuses as well!!
Back home and after a filter coffee and yummy dinner later, all I can think of is – “Singaara Chennai” does have a beauty of its own!!! 😀