Jul 20 2011
While the last few blogging breaks have been due to blogger’s block or self-imposed exiles forced by other priorities like work, this most recent break was brought on by a trip to India. While nostalgia is an important component of all trips back to the homeland, the feeling was particularly strong during this trip as I relived some of the most enjoyable parts of my past. These were not well-formed memories that were lodged in my brain, ready to be summoned by me at will. They were fleeting memories – a joke cracked by a friend, a cricket session with my brother on the mottai maadi, a scene from a drama – that were brought back by association. But they added something invaluable to everything I did, making the present much more enjoyable than it would’ve been if unencumbered by those reminders of the past.
Thanks to Facebook, the last couple of years have seen contacts being re-established with several friends from school and college. The ability to reach out helped me get in touch with 1 friend and thanks to her post to the school group, the result was a reunion of 8 school buddies. Its been over 15 years since I saw some of these friends but having spent some of my best years with them, we were able to start right where we left off. For those 3 hours, it was as though the intervening years had never happened and the dinner tables at Savera became our school benches as we reminisced about our friends, families and teachers. Apart from this, I also made a visit to my school and met the vice-principal, who used to be my class teacher. Walking around those familiar buildings, visiting the classrooms and seeing the kids play in the playground brought back some wonderful memories.
Some of the best evenings of my childhood were spent at the beach and so it was no surprise that one of the best evenings during this trip was also at Besant Nagar beach. With their cousins for company, the kids played in the water to their heart’s content. Kavya also got a horse ride around the beach. On the way back, it was my turn to be a kid as I played the game where we shoot pellets at balloons. After the kids went on the merry-go-round and the little giant wheel, I had some maangaa(the kind that is presented sliced up with salt and milagai podi sprinkled on it) and that too was just as delicious as I remembered.
Two of the few outdoor spots for kids those days used to be Guindy Park and its smaller cousin Snake Park. So I took the kids there on this trip. The two parks offer quite a contrast. Snake Park is quite small but packed with quite a few snakes in all shapes and sizes. Guindy Park, on the other hand, is quite large but rather sparsely populated with animals. But it makes up for that with a lot of greenery and a couple of good play areas. The kids had fun playing on the swings and slides and clambering up and down the variety of play structures.
I’ve watched a number of stage dramas when I was young since my parents were members in a sabha. I don’t think we made it to many comedies but I do remember being enthralled by the sets and special effects in many an R.S.Manohar mythological drama. While a couple of movies are always part of the itinerary in India, I haven’t seen a drama for a while now. That was rectified on this trip as I made it to a screening of Crazy Mohan’s Alauddinum 100 Watts Bulbum. With the drama being Crazy’s first production, a few of the jokes were familiar having been retold many times and used him Crazy himself in movies that he scripted. Still there were enough jokes to keep me smiling through most of the play until the completely unnecessary intermission and the rushed post-intermission segment.
Kamala theater in Vadapalani used to be one of my favorite haunts before with most Rajni films getting released there. This time I saw both 180 and Venghai there. The theater, now a 2-screen multiplex, is barely recognizable with a spanking new box-office and a completely revamped interior . What hasn’t changed though are the framed photos that show the theater owner with the who’s who of both politics and cinema.
Ofcourse there were outings to the Chennai that was very different from the city I grew up in.
- 3 restaurants stood out among the many I visited. Sanjeevanam provided a very different epicurean experience with both its food and the presentation – a variety of dishes supposed to be ingested in a particular order. Annalaxmi was more traditional with some yummy food. The Italian food at Tuscana was very tasty also with the nice ambiance and good service making it a nice experience overall.
- The Express Avenue mall could put many US malls to shame with its size, services and brand-name stores. Window shopped, caught Cars 2 at the Escape theater and spent quite a bit of time playing in the Fun City play area.
- The Queensland theme park was a huge disappointment. The crowd, mostly made up of high school and college kids, was unruly and there was hardly any crowd control with people freely cutting in line and sneaking in via the Exit lines. Many of the rides were ‘Adults Only’ and the ones that were for children were for really young kids. As a result, Kavya and Karthik had very few rides they could actually go on.
After 3 weeks of walking around like Cheran, singing Nyaabagam Varudhe…, its back to the present.
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