Wednesday, January 09, 2013

CBC - Tablog - Three Cities - Three Phases - One Individual - Many Lives

This is part of a series of blog posts written by various members of a motley group of people who have a 'Chennai Connection'. Visit The Chennai Bloggers Club on Facebook for more information.

I was passed the baton of writing by my friend and former colleague Karen an amazing lady of many talents - fabulous cook, pastries and cakes made by her are worth their weight in platinum, an artiste - she has a way with colours and paper and lamps, check her photography blog as well.

The next post will be by - Destination Infinity!

Now to head to my attempt; a warning this might meander aimlessly; so be prepared for a long read and I hope you will care to share your valuable thoughts and feedback! So without any further pretensions of literary merit - my post begins....

I was born in Calcutta; Feb 23, 1982 at 5:30 PM in the evening to be precise. It was an extremely difficult delivery for my mother and I was a miracle baby - born 12 years after my sister. I was born silent and still and the doctors were at a loss as my tiny heart that was still beating slowly with an abnormal rhythm. As my uncles waited outside in despair and hope the good doctor who attended my mother's delivery tried a trick; he gave a whack on my buttock as a last desperate measure. 'Waaa' the wail rang loud and clear and I was born. Naming me was never in doubt as I was born after my parents prayed at Kashi and a mystic had blessed my mother on Shiva-rathri saying that 'Beti, bholenath aayenge - har-har mahadev' and since then Lord Shiva has played a mystical role in my life.

After this my mother took me to Gorakhpur, Auranagabad, Calcutta and finally Poona; where my dad finally found a good job and invested in a beautiful flat. Poona is what I call my first city whose memories remain clear, we lived in a mini-township called Ajmera Cooperative Society and that's where my spirit of adventure and cricket started. Playing with friends, celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi and Christmas with equal fervour and devotion. Another transfer and pack bag and baggage and land in Calcutta.

Calcutta where I had to unlearn Marathi, learn Hindi and eventually pick-up Bangla; learnt that I had an elder sister who doted on me, a cousin, a sister my younger maternal uncle's daughter, maternal grand-parents; so much love, care and affection. Around ten years in Calcutta; where I grew up, learning to love books, movies and dogs in that order. Years of Durga Pooja and Kali Puja, football in the rains, first childhood crush; adrenaline rush of hitting the winning runs in a local club cricket tournament and the tears of saying goodbye to friends and moving to another city - Madras!!!!!

May 1, 1998 - The Coromandal Express arrives at Madras Central and the weird smell of jasmine flowers, filter coffee, sweat and piss that is the fragrance of Madras Central and which continues to remain an integral part of my everyday life assailed my senses.

We lived in Tiruvallur about 44 kilometres from Madras, every given opportunity I would land up in Madras hunt for books in Moore Market; watch movies at Devi Theatre - the Rs 6.50 paise ticket - first three rows - Armageddon was a masterpiece that I enjoyed there. The Marina Beach - the ocean has a strange aura to it; more than the beach it is the ocean that always intrigued me and I learnt its fury first-hand during the Tsunami!

College was at Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College - English Literature; what else? The three years the best years of my life when as a team me and my mates won practically every collegiate quiz and debating / oratorical competition in the city. If not first, a podium finish in about 85% of the events we attended - from Loyola to WCC to Stella Maris and Ethiraj life went by in a flash!

These were the years when I learnt many sad truths that pushed the envelope of responsibility, made me understand the sacrifices that my mother had made for me and I realised the value of every single paisa. As I worked part-time, doing a smattering of jobs from tuition-classes to selling savouries and coconut bolis made by my mother; the importance of money in one's life and a mad urge to make money; money and more money got deep into my mind. I had plans; huge plans to do this, do that, set up a restaurant offering simple, high-quality food at affordable costs.

Then I attended a campus-interview and got placed at Sify e-learning and the restaurateur's dreams were traded for long hours in front of a computer; understanding there existed a world of writing beyond poetry and crime fiction. It was about software, hardware, automobiles and turbines - the fascinating world of Instructional Design!

Since that fateful day, when I attired in full-formals with my mother's blessings walked up to a corporate-induction; 8 years have gone by; these years have seen me change jobs, but my love for writing has never diminished; similarly my love for Madras beloved city - I can never fathom it being called Chennai has increased manifold.

There was a time when Calcutta was the whole world for me! It all changed on that fateful day - May-1, 1998 when I landed here! My God what a long introduction!!!!!!

Madras Nalla Madras

The smell of freshly ground coffee,
The intricate kolams at the front of the house,
The divinity in temples be it Kapaleeswarar,
Or the simple charms of Luz Church or the Sunday Mass at St. Theresa's.
The craze for first-day first-shows.
The rush for the 'rasikar-mandram shows' -
Mad celebrations when the film can would arrive at 3 AM
The customary pooja and whistles and claps during the special 4 AM show!

Getting claps, smiles and congrats from unknown girls at collegiate events.
Being the guy who would help lovers unite.
The joy of helping friends getting married!
Getting honoured at the naming ceremony of their first-born!

Of getting seriously injured,
Going into a coma,
Losing all sense of time and being,
Labelled a mental wreck.
Of rehabilitation, rejuvenation and proving detractors wrong!
The will to fight and survive and smile and move on!

Life in the professional lane,
Rushing in and out of trains,
Getting scolded for coming late,
Getting applauded for completing projects ahead of time.
Seeing Devi Theatre giving way to Sathyam Cinemas.
Landmark becoming the one-stop destination for all books, music and gifts.
Attending the Landmark Quiz every August-15
Watching tests give way to the madness of IPL.
Spencer's losing its sheen to Express Avenue and Citi-Centre!
The joy of buying a house in my name!
And seeing the smile of contentment on my mother's face!

The pangs of never mushrooming the courage to walk up to someone special -
And say 'Lady, you mean the world to me! Will you marry me?'
Of never having tasted alcohol despite of so many opportunities!
The sorrow when the one time I managed to confess my feelings,
And tasting the bitter pill of rejection,
Dejection changing to a sense of gratitude,
When she said - 'Let's remain friends!'
The idiotic optimistic self-belief!
That the purity of my love,
Will melt her heart!

These are all the beautiful gifts that Madras has bestowed upon me!
Madras a mocktail of memories pleasant and bitter!
The city that made a man out of a boy!
A city that I will always love - whatever its shortcomings be!
There is no other place in the world that I would care to be!
For my friends reside here and without me being here,
How would I ever have become a part of the Chennai Bloggers Club :) !!!!


Ramaa Iyer said...

Smashing & soulful. Not sure about others but i can relate to lot of things that you've written..worth the wait i must say!!

Clement Williams said...

Able to relate to quite a few in the list. Well done.

Susan Deborah said...

Meanders like my story. You landed here in 1998 and I in 1989! You beat Clement in the length of this post. I liked the "soulful" meandering of this post.

Great read.

Joy always,

Destination Infinity said...

Poetic autobiography! :)

Destination Infinity

gitanjali said...

WOW Mahesh :)
Really nice- very poignant.
Good luck for everything :)

mahesh said...

Thank you everyone for your kind words :)

Karen Xavier said...

Wow, you've had quite an eventful life and you've seen so many places... hoping you get to explore many more places and realise your dream along the way. Nice post... almost like a short autobiography.

Ashwini C N said...

Wow. That was an amazing read. I did not mind the length since it was so interesting to read. The enthusiasm from which you'Ve written this is clearly visibile. Goood one :-)

Jothi vel Moorthy said...

Awesome Mahesh! Quite realistic :-) Enjoyed reading it fully.

Prashanth Ashok said...

Absolutely from the heart :) Nice one Mahesh !!! And guess what, I landed in Madras in 1998 too :)

Harikrishna said...

excellent... lengthy yet awesome! Poetic one :D

Kappu said...

//the weird smell of jasmine flowers, filter coffee, sweat and piss that is the fragrance of Madras Central and which continues to remain an integral part of my everyday life assailed my senses.//

Serthe weird smell of jasmine flowers, filter coffee, sweat and piss that is the fragrance of Madras Central and which continues to remain an integral part of my everyday life assailed my senses.
isouly beautiful imagery, you are not at all wrong here! You know what this reminds me of God of Small things, where Roy associates smells the steely smell of the bus, the smell of death like dried roses on a breeze, the smell of piss – the alleys of Aleppey.

Calcutta, Pune and Chennai – maaaaan why did my father not shift so often???

Do visit my blog! Would love to see you by! *cheers*

mahesh said...

Thank you everyone for all your kind words :)

The Pseudonym said...

You had your way with all those words. Brilliant writeup man. I loved reading every bit of it.

Anonymous said...

So refreshing to read a post about Madras after a long time. And you put it so beautifully.

P.S : It is so much better to call it Madras. Also, I hate it when people call it Anna Salai instead of 'Mount Road'

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.