Madras 2007- a report for the refugees

Written in


Ref.u gees – noun, pronunciation {ref-yoojee, ref-yoo-jee, kaena pasanga}

1. People forcibly pulled from the city of Madras like jasmine flowers from their stalks, constantly drunk on nostalgia spiced with sambar powder and served with a more milagai.

2. People eating questionable $6.95 idlis served with diet coke reminiscing about the oh-so-soft idlis at Murugan Idli store.

3. People eating unhealthy Bhelpuri while thinking about boiled peanuts, onions, tomatoes and Parrot-nosed-raw-mango served in a piece of The Hindu talking about a police drive to remove food vendors from Marina beach.

4. People staring at vast shelves of books filled with potboilers while dreaming about a heated price negotiation over George Orwell’s Animal farm (Rs. 20) with a potbellied old bearded man in Luz Corner.

So if you are the type that has moved away from this city because,

1. You are married to a husband who forced you to move.

2. You are married to a job that paid you to move

3. You are married to money that tempted you to move (mostly abroad)

you will find this report to be a reassuring reminder that Madras has not changed since the 80s. Not one bit. Really. Ok. Well, a few bytes perhaps.

It used to be Auto City.


It is still, Auto City.


It used to be about cotton soft wear. It is now about buggy software.

It used to be about potti kadais. It still is about potti-shaped monstrously large kadais in T Nagar.

It used to be about affordable houses. It still is about affordable houses, 40 kms from the outskirts of villages on the outskirts of the city. Tindivanam city, I mean.

And oh, the old 5-year Dravidian Ping Pong game is still on.

And it has a slightly new map.

In fact, I took an Orkut profile snapshot of Madras (around the 1980s) and Chennai (2007). See for yourself. Some small differences, but still mostly the same.

Madras 1980s Chennai 2007
mbadge cbadge

And the basic profile?



And communities?

Madras Chennai
mcom ccom

As you can see, dear refugees, your city hasn’t changed that much in all these years. Just in small subtle, unnoticeable ways. So I wish all of you a very happy near year.

Now let me go grab a plate of sambar vadai from Kaiyendhi bhavan, pick up Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy from the thaathaa at Luz Corner and go watch some over-decked maamis at The Music Academy make good use of this.

34 responses to “Madras 2007- a report for the refugees”

  1. rambodoc Avatar

    Another thing that has not changed is the way we write as we speak:
    Pronounciation, for eggsample.
    Ashok: touche πŸ™‚ Fixed now.

  2. Guru Avatar

    I’ve been following your posts for some time now. And with each post you set an standard for others about how much effort should go into a *real* blog post.

    Great Going ..

  3. maami Avatar

    Perhaps the current Chennai lingo say: “Dis is Aaasome dude”?
    As an outdated exile I’d better stick to what Manorama would say in our days: “Yen raasa, imbutu nalla yeludiriye”.
    Best wishes for you and your blogfellas for 2008.

  4. Krish Raghav Avatar
    Krish Raghav

    You didn’t mention the mighty Almonard fans. Why the seemingly arbitrary 54 fans instead?
    Ashok: Aah. Hmm. Good point. Actually just randomly edited somebody’s real profile with the javascript hack. Gives me an idea though…

  5. Lavanya Avatar

    πŸ™‚ Thanks for the update! Madras is a warm, childhod memory; so that was nostalgia revisited. The Orkut profile is just swell!!

    A happy new year to you too. Hope we see more ‘n more jalsa on this blog in the coming year.

  6. Pri Avatar

    post marital straight?! beauty piece i say! bhesh bhesh.

  7. Rekha Avatar

    Hehe.. Was wondering if like everything else in the US that is on vacation this week and next, if you were on vacation from blogging. Happy to see that I was wrong.
    In the 80s, the karigai kaaran was a happy loud-voiced vandi pusher on the road, now in most cases it is a much more prosperous south indian sitting in an air-conditioned Pazhamudhir Nilayam or Saravana Stores(hope I got that name right).
    Cabbage was Mutta Kos and always greenish whitish in color. Now it can also be purple and other colors. Cholam could refer to corn or baby corn and is better appreciated as baby corn manjoorian rather than the traditional sambal lae sutta types.

  8. Harish Avatar

    hahaha… good one πŸ™‚

    The orkut profile sidebar looks very similar to mine (friendfeed, wordpress, picasa, twitter in the same order!). And the scrap/photo/video count is also the same as in my orkut profile. Perhaps a coincidence?? πŸ˜‰
    Ashok: Cough cough. Just a coincidence, perhaps πŸ˜‰

  9. AnonLurkerCoward Avatar

    Super simbly Super.

    Now, can we expect a post on the Indian Cricket Team’s recent performance in Aus? Only you can do true justice to a topic like this.

  10. ano Avatar

    cool post!!
    its only 3 weeks since me been in chennai. . .
    n was jus wondering if the traffic was ta same too…..
    u know its possible to reach places faster than a share-auto if we walk!!

  11. Durga Prasad Avatar
    Durga Prasad

    Nice one dude….! Good post.

  12. maxdavinci Avatar

    thnx, very informative for non-chennaiites like us….

  13. the decimator Avatar
    the decimator

    List of adjectives describing this(most) posts..

    nice one
    simply superb
    good one
    bhesh besh
    nice one
    you make my day


  14. Kavitha Avatar

    lolz esp on post-marital straight πŸ™‚

    Happy New Years! Have a blast!

  15. CW Avatar

    Post-marital straight, indeed!
    Happy new year!

  16. […] subtle, unnoticeable ways, using Orkut profiles to illustrate his point, in what he calls ‘A report for the refugees‘. It used to be about cotton soft wear. It is now about buggy software.It used to be about […]

  17. parijaatha Avatar

    I am not from Chennai….but i could relate to this post so well!

  18. neha Avatar

    Kalimark!! Man, that advert still haunts me! Hilarious post!

  19. Sudhakar Muthyala Avatar
    Sudhakar Muthyala

    Desperate: Need Blogger to give a Crow by Crow or Kaka by Kaka account as you would prefer of the Chennai HSBC Big Bird Race scheduled for the February 3rd.It is a Sunday.I am putting together a 4 person team for the event . The Mise en Place and the Mise en Scène has already begun. Please chk these links and call me asap.

    Krish I am not treating this as a fun event ending with beer in the evening but use this event as an excellent platform to kick start some serious conservation initatives with the help of the Chennai Blogging Community. Amazing blog yours. Thanks. Pls call

    98848 20120 and o44 24494617

  20. Sudhakar Muthyala Avatar
    Sudhakar Muthyala

    Need you on board for the race Dude.
    We will even consider chartering a helicopter and have Karun Chandok drive us around to accomplish our mission. Need your help to get your blogging brothers and sisters hooked. I notice from the comments section for each of your posts there is a lovely resonance.

  21. Nags Avatar

    hehehe.. how did you manage those screenshots from orkut?

    funny! i pity ppl who dont understad or speak tamil, they are missing out on a lot of fun in here, and i know for a fact one cant explain of jilpa, it can only be felt with the heart πŸ˜€

  22. sirensongs Avatar

    Chennai was the place I first landed in India and still feels like home. This is great, almost as good as the campaign posters blog….:-)

  23. Pav Avatar

    Krish Ashok,

    I certainly hope you intend on writing a book, because your blog is completely addictive. The world needs more unpretentious Indian writers.

    I think theres quite a few of us who live vicariously through your blog when we miss Madras.

    Kudos! Great stuff. Keep ’em coming.

  24. Bala Avatar

    Awesome πŸ™‚

  25. Crime Master Avatar

    That was hilarious writeup! Been long since someone wrote humour with such ease! πŸ™‚

    Also had loved your bit on facebook! Creativity at its peak! πŸ˜€ (though I must say, you overcome it with every post! :D)

    great work!

  26. Prabha Avatar

    Loved Reading !

    Except I could never fix words like JALSA and JILPA ( outta touch with chennai may be πŸ™‚ )

  27. krishashok Avatar

    Thank you everybody πŸ™‚

  28. Vasuki Avatar

    Too good…that was amazingly creative! Keep it coming!!

  29. vijay aka vj Avatar

    Iam quite becoming a fan of your style of writing.Nice write up.

  30. Zahra Avatar

    Niiiiiice πŸ™‚ Am a refugee ‘coz of reason (2)…. boohoo…looking to run back home at the first opportunity.
    ‘Live in relationship (with tradition)’…LOL!!!

  31. Nikhil Narayanan Avatar

    Loved the orkut part macha.

  32. How to Get Six Pack Fast Avatar

    The style of writing is quite familiar . Did you write guest posts for other bloggers?

  33. Priya Avatar

    hey Ashok,

    superb blog, love your style of writing… – priya

  34. happy farm hack Avatar

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