Madras 2007- a report for the refugees

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.