Monday, December 2, 2013

Chennai - The Lighthouse and Others Things

In Chennai for the third time in three months and I am wondering what is it with all these Chennai visits.
A new building near the Chennai Central (or is it an old one?)
The first thing that hit me was that they have somehow resolved the age old auto meter issue. For as long as I remember meters in Chennai autos ran faster than Usain Bolt and before you could finish saying right or left, it was multiplying like the Indians, in hundreds per second. No use fighting with them because they had a strongman called Auto Shankar those days and you never knew if you somehow got the gentleman steering your vehicle to some dark alley to settle the issue in private.
Another stately building close to Chennai Central
In all my visits to all the cities and towns, Chennai was by far the worst in terms of fleecing off the auto rickshaw customers and for years I could ever understand why. I once got off an auto because the meter was running too quickly for my pocket. Guess what? After all these years they have somehow got that issue sorted out and all auto rickshaw wallas go strictly by meter. Friend Anil Menon says - Now we know how much they'd been fleecing us man. We paid almost thrice what it comes to in the meter.
How did make this change? I have absolutely no idea but every auto comes by meter. Fantastic stuff.
The Chennai Lighthouse in the background
Second thing that strikes you is the absolute chaos all the roads are in thanks to the new Metro works going on all over the place. Journeys take longer obviously and its not a pretty sight. Hopefully will be resolved soon.

I asked the driver of the cab what there was to see in Chennai and he had no idea really. Save the Mylapore temple he could not think of much other than the two beaches, Marina and Elliots. There is the Theosophical Society, then the snake park, a museum near Egmore. Parks? No, he said. Temples, no he said. Palaces, no he said, Forts? No, he said.
View from Chennai Lighthouse
But I saw some lovely churches - one at Santhome near the Marina beach and another St. Andrews Church which looked beautiful. The Mylapore temple is a good sight too. We trekked a bit along the Elliot's beach at Besant Nagar (little knowing that friends Krishna and Chitra lived  right there). There is a lovely KFC which overlooks the beach and it was wonderful to sit there and gaze at the beach. On Marina beach we saw a huge light house, some 14 floors high, and conveniently equipped with a lift (apparently one of the few in the world that offers this convenience and the only one in India). So we took it after paying ten bucks a head, Anjali, Nalini and I and gazed down at the straight road, the beach, the sea and so on. (While there watch out for an automatic machine that sells soft drinks and eatables - it took my money - two ten rupee notes and gobbled them up quickly and then refrained from doing anything else such as giving me my soft drink.)
View from the Chennai Lighthouse
One could see the way the new was eating into the old, the displacement, the change in lines and with that of culture - old houses jostling with swanky new modern structures. I saw Alsa Mall which looked old, small and dilapidated now - then it was the nerve centre of action in the mid 80s.
Egmore station - Neat Architecture
I saw a huge IT Park and it was amazing to see how the techies were filing in - just like the factory workers would in the old days.
Some old building - soon it would be gone I'm sure
The old houses were under tremendous pressure and we could feel it and well, it might not be the same anymore after a while. Why cannot they just leave the old city alone and build a new place elsewhere?

No comments: