Chennai a land of large things. Huge, larger than life, cut outs of politicians and kitschy film posters both staring from great heights at the commoner. The film stars have a special place in peoples hearts probably equal to God. People pronounce an extra `a' with all words ( well almost) where none is required. Can you imagine how my name would be pronounced if they could with an extra “A” ?:)

Chennai has perpetual water shortages since I can remember, and old wars with neighboring states over rivers and boundaries.

The jasmine flower is seen in almost every hairdo of the Chennai dweller, its smell bewitching and enticing. You see this flower in heaps at every street corner. Chennai is about filter kapi connoisseurs who will just as easily indulge in a cup of cappuccino at one of the thriving coffee lounges.

Chennai Mahabalipuram still has ancient fishing villages ( akin to Chimbai of Bandra) and these share the same space as the new age sedans and the nike-clad joggers. Chennai is quaint, bemusing and demands affection in return for an array of unexpected sights,sounds and flavours.

Then there is Saravana Bhavana
This was recommended by SimpleVinni to me. It is a hugely renowned food chain (its like finding an ATM my colleague from Chennai said) and I had no clue of it. Saravana Bhavan was started in 1982 by a grocery merchant Mr Rajagopalan who decided to cater food on a small scale. Maybe he is responsible afterall for the culture of eating out, in an otherwise conservative Chennai

The food here is hot and hygienic. The place is clean but with zero ambience. The menu was very interesting. I was tempted to over order, more than I could eat. I got a superb cuppa of the best filter coffee I’ve had in a while. Service is not very good. The people who serve there thought I was a foreigner and so kept staring at me, and spoke to a colleague of mine in Tamil to ask if I wanted a Coke Light or a normal Coke. They were astute to know that I would not drink open water.

The manager proudly proclaimed to me, their claim to fame was consistency in food quality. Something our cricket team certainly cannot claim


melinda said...

Morning Chennai, afternoon I think:) The yummy food thr..I miss it:(

ALLEX said...

a realistic post indeed. so many A's are there...... i had visited the annamalai university. the profs were very nice and helpful.... as such the people are too conservative and do not prefer to talk in any language.... sarvan bhavan is really good for food but ambience is not good.....

Rasika said...

aaah how i long for the south

Jim said...

Hey I love the Dossa there those long oblong snack...I got the name right? Its crisp and lovely, remember how I tried to eat tat with a fork- still cant eat with my finger:)

apple27_shan said...

Well written mee :)
nice reading,sure makes me get another prespective of the other side of the coin :)
I have had the opportunity of visiting chennai on a few ocassions ,the town didnt really leave a me very impressed.
A few incidents do come to mind though.
The time i was on the beach and sat on a pony and the poor hoss sank upto his knees in sand !
Eating fresh fried fish wrapped around a coupla slices of bread with mint chutney.. from a vendor on the beach,that was yumm !
Having a scarp with some shop keepers in a market near the docks cause they'd sold a friend of mine a brick wrapped nicely in newspaper passing it off as a carton of TDK casettes !( we lost the fight i confess)
Sitting in a city bus and being stared at by other passengers to be eventually,impolitely ,told that it was a ladies seat !
Inspite of my tan, being instantly recognised as a north indian and welcomed with a cold shoulder.
Being challaned twice on the same day coz my bike had an andhra pradesh registration!damn!
The heat n humidity was a killer, sweat pours out faster than one can bottoms up a glass of water.
yeaa well...i quiet liked the road side dosa stall on wheels..he had a pager and would deliver to my room in YMCA as soon as paged.
Like folks that live in mumabi love their city, similarly folks that live in chennai love it i guess...count me outta that list !

Mike said...

All cuisine from India is fabulous:) I have a weakness for your food, love the flavours and the aromas. The vastness and diff cusines within Indiaitself is so staggering.Mouthwatering

sabith khan said...

Chennai reminds me of everything extreme...the weather, the food....but must say i do have fond memories of meeting some great people in Chennai.

That reminds me..its been almost six months since i had a decent dosa :(

Vinni said...

Lolz MEE!! was so kewl! loved it! SO finally u've been to sarvana bhavan? Kool! Nice blog! keep going! Sarvana Bhavan is famous for Mini Idli! Yummy! I luv it! Did you tried it! Mee u been to Marina Beach! Overall well written Mee!

runa said...

Hey I love south Indian snacks, so do you recommend this place ms fussy:)
When are you back? Its been raining incessantly in mumbai - no good:( missed u at the films today, we had fun

gita said...

O how miss the good food. I become vry nostalgic when I think of all the variety n flavours and aromas there in your land:) hope you will work around your calendar and come to ZA for the wedding. Wil try to have some Indian dishes:)

ashish said...

Chennai is the "madrasi" land for me till I got more educated on the South:)We once stayed at the Fishermans Cove while on a holiday trip to Andamans, what a lovely property. And I know Chennai gets rains twice in a year. Your post is pretty captivating, I enjoy reading your blog!

Neelu said...

Was too small to remember Chennai.
My dad was an avid traveller and every year we would go for a long holiday, with hold-alls and packed food, in 2-3 day train journeys!

sanjiv said...

Mee:) we've been to the beach wedding in chennai remember?:) wats tat friend of urs doing now?whr is he now in jak? Sing? Tat was fun, he was mighty thrilled to have you thr as his guest amongst all tat traditionalfamily:) and the bachelor nite party:) hey the parties were cool:)

I been going to chennai frequently and I stay at the furthest end from the city, its a long drive into the city but living outside close to the sea is non negotiable for me:)

Nice, brought back memories:)

Anonymous said...

Hey Chennai reminds me of my Ogilvy days ...first trip was on work with krishnamoorthy for consumer insight ..went to the place few more times on holiday ...loved the sprawling city , architecture and 'culture ' overflowing from the Kanjeevaram , diamond nose pin attired 'Ajis' to the beautiful architecture ....music fests ..though we went dancing at the dico in Park Hotel and saw another side of Chennai altogether !!

Mee said...

Mel the food is truly yummmm:)

Allex yes:)

Rasika- howz beautiful conoor?:)

Jimmy- yea:)

apple27shan- u sat in a ladies seat thr? hehehe. in delhi nobody would have dared asked u to move as the fear psychosis prohibits such demands in public transport there:)

Mike true:)

Sabith - surely thr must be some Indian restaurants in tat country?:)

Vinni- Marina beach? nope! For me beaches in India are only in Goa that I go to, not even Bombay:)

Runa- highly recommended:)

Gits- how sweet:)

Ash - ty:)

Neelu- yea we used to do such summer vacations too, I cant think of doin tat now:)

Sanjiv - :)

Anon- yea true, Chennai is very modern in such places:), leaves me wondering why it revels in being so conservative by daytime:)

Leila said...

Thanks for writing this.