Chennai

The Chennai Rains – what it taught me!

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December 2nd 2015 – A day I will remember in great detail. And by that I mean like Sheldon – eidetic memory and all that! For the rest of my life! Why? Because I learnt a lot of lessons. Life lessons. Hopefully positive too!

December 2nd 2015 was a Wednesday. A very rainy one. The previous night was a bummer because there was a really long power cut. And we had to make do with no TV, low charged mobile phones for mindless whatsapping, and no microwaveable hot dishes.

Many near and dear ones called us in the morning to find if we were ok, thanks to tv reports, rumors and truth on social media, tamilnadu weatherman forecasts and the panchaangam (traditional methods of hindu astrology). Well, we were ok. We smiled. Reassured people. And stocked up for the rainy days ahead. And then it all began.

Lesson 1 . You think you have a plan.

I surely did. My plan was to live a “simple”life during the badly forecast days of rain. I prepared myself mentally for power cuts. So I had stocked up on provisions that would not be easily perishable (read rotis, dal and eggs). I had my work cut out. I was going to do a lot of written work that did not include electricity. Letters to write (Yes, I have a bunch of pen friends and we write to each other the pen and paper way), assignments to prepare for and the like. Priding myself on being ultra organised, I was relaxed that Wednesday morning.

But what did I really learn?: I thought I was preparing myself for a simple life. Turns out my version of simple was not simple. I should have thought minimalistic. Couple of hours down the line – I had no thoughts of food perishable or non perishable, no fancy words to write in my letters, and no creativity to showcase in my assignments. All I was thinking was how to creatively salvage what we could and how to get out of my house.

Lesson 2 . You think you are connected.

John Donne said ” No man is an Island” More so in today’s world where we are connected through Whatsapp groups, private chats, phone calls, Face time, Skype, Facebook, Instagram and what not. And you think that all these will help you in case of an emergency. I can upload on Facebook, tweet about it, send a message in groups  – that’s what we take for granted every single day.

But what did I really learn?: News Flash : You need wifi and there is no power. You need mobile data (Yes all the 3G and 4G the pretty girl tells you is unlimited on TV!) But the network operators decide to shut down. And you are relying on your senile memory to desperately grasp at phone numbers that are just an illusion in your head. Arrogantly displaying your useful as a brick smartphone. Pity, the landline is the only thing that works. But sadly redundant in our heads and homes. Sorry John Dunne. Man was indeed an island on Dec 2.

Lesson 3. You work hard so that you can afford stuff.

You buy a house. And then a car. And do it up well. Look up magazines, hire an architect. Paint it. Lights. A lawn. The works.

But what did I really learn ? : None of these matter. You cannot take them with you. You may have to leave it behind. All of them. The things you waited so many days to buy. Or saved up for. The envy of others. Anything. When I left home – I carried my wallet, mobile 2 sets of clothes, my grandparent’s photos, an ID proof and a couple of certificates. That’s all. None of the books I heavily invested in and thought were the reason for my life. Not the Laptop. Nor the Tablet. Nope. Din’t think of them even once.

In a way – the Chennai floods taught me a lot more. That you are never safe. That things change. That the things and people you thought you could rely on, may not be so reliable. But that random people you din’t think of, step up to the occasion. That people help. That some like to see you struggle. There are more expenses than you imagine.  But it does not seem important in that minute.You are powerless against Nature. Or stupid bureaucracy. That you yourself are not the person you thought you were. You are extremely strong on auto pilot. And can be really more arrogant and self-obsessed than we realise too.

 

Surprisingly, when people were clicking their tongues and enquiring about all the material damage (read vehicles, electronic equipments,cleaning, plumbing, carpentry ) – I feel like I have some clarity. Or maybe I am just zombied out.

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The Madras Market…

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The Madras Market is finally here! After days, nay weeks of constant reminders, vendor verifications and just the eager anticipation of the event – it has finally materialised! Yes , yes… click and portal to brick and mortar and all that jargon… but come take a virtual tour on day 1 of the Madras Market (initiative of the Chennai Shopping group – a group that has helped narrow the gap between many a shopper and vendor along with some good relations to boot )

Ample car parking.. thank god!
Ample car parking.. thank god!

Anyone who tries to venture into a mall or any other popular hangout over the weekend will shudder at the thought of parking. Definitely a point in favour of Madras Market.

SONY DSCGet your ticket and some gift vouchers at the counter too…

Safety and security :) what if your heart couldn't take the variety of goodies on sale :)
Safety and security 🙂 what if your heart couldn’t take the variety of goodies on sale 🙂
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I am entering the Market first paying obeisance to the remover of obstacles… help me find some good deals 🙂 No obstacles there please!

The common theme at the Madras market was of course … errr… Madras / Chennai..duh! Chumbak, Chennai Gaga, and many more stalls which had souvenirs – read bags, stationery, T-shirts, magnets of ‘namma’ Chennai seemed to be popular with both the local crowd and the expats too!

You know you are Indian if...some witty stuff here
You know you are Indian if…some witty stuff here
T Shirts with an element of the local flavour
T Shirts with an element of the local flavour
Loved these quaint kettles...absolute old world charm
Loved these quaint kettles…absolute old world charm
Moving from clothes to more functional items... these woven muli utility baskets were a big hit with many
Moving to more functional items… these woven muli utility baskets were a big hit with many
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Functional.. yea.. but what is that? Absolutely gorgeous jewellery up for grabs at many stalls.. and worth its price too 🙂 I loved these jhumkas a lot!
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Well if you got to look into your jewels in peace.. make sure junior is occupied! Board games and stalls for different hobbies galore…
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Angry birds and Chota Bheem were the next theme in rage… bags, stationery and even a suitcase!
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If just the souvenirs did not appeal to you – you could actually play the game live with the catapulting birds… no crazy sound effects though!
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For the more adventurous at heart – venture into the world of Zorbing!
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When it is glucose run down time – stick one of these kandy swirls to raise the energy levels 🙂
or if you're looking to move away from the exotic and to something that has survived the test of time - fluorescent pink clouds of cotton candy... who could surpass that temptation!?
or if you’re looking to move away from the exotic and to something that has survived the test of time – fluorescent pink clouds of cotton candy… who could surpass that temptation!?
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Kids and adults give in to them equally and wind up on a sweet note…

I have to mention the patient artists who were doing their own creative thing by way of caricatures and mehndi – putting a smile on the face of many. Plus the stage that was being set up for the evening’s concert. The food court had a variety of items that would satiate your sweet tooth as well as your continental and spicy one too… What was lacking was maybe a juice stall… With the sun beating down the way it did today – even the humble lime soda would have made top biz… people who were thirsty gave in to ice golas or regular mineral water…As a stall had mentioned on its merchandise – Chennai “land of four summers”

Hopefully same time next year too! See ya…