From literature to business, it’s been a culture shift but I am enjoying every minute of it. I survive on my sense of humour. Love Wodehouse, westerns, crime thrillers, and a good laugh with family and friends.

Mythili Rajkumar

Happy Birthday, Madras

| Updated on August 22, 2014

The last month or so, it’s been Madras, Madras, everywhere, and not a word spared.

Madrasa suthi pakka poren...marinavil veedu katta poren.. If you are struggling to read these Tamil words in English, well, you could say that's Madras: Easy things made difficult and difficult things made easy. An auto ride will cost you the earth, but your maids will give their soul to keep you happy.

The last month or so, it’s been Madras, Madras, everywhere, and not a word spared. Tonnes of fact and colourful descriptions have been dug up and shared.

But what is Madras to me?

Madras is masala dosai: you give it a mental salute, first, for its perfection, and then tear into it greedily.

It is the long Marina beach – talking of which I’ll never forget the day my mother got lost in it, as predicted by the aunt with the ‘karunaakku’.

Madras is cycle-rickshaw puller Shokali who bore the children to school and back, shouting lustily and pedalling furiously to overtake cars.

Madras is where we – my sister and cousins – wore our first set of trousers and paraded all day long, putting models in the shade.

Madras is Kapali theatre, full of bugs that went about their business while you watched Tamil hit movies. It was the Kamadhenu of entertainment.

Madras is Burma Bazaar and Jam Bazaar (pronounced Bajaar, mind you).

A lot has changed over the years, of course and the old has given way to the new. Some of these landmarks no longer exist. But the lingo of the city, Madras Tamil, has kept pace and evolved its own rich vocabulary: Now, one can’t talk without bringing in machi, machan, mappillai and mokkai. Chancey illa!

And Madras Tamil now sways to rap, hip-hop, pop.. from wi-fi to kalaachify.

Reliving all things Madras, I wondered if I was getting maudlin and sounded out my college chums: They didn’t hold back either. Sudha Varadharajan calls Madras “conservative, yet contemporary, full of sun and spice”. Rubina Koshy defines it as “warm, as in welcoming, not the climate, creative in so many spheres and musical, without boundaries”.

Maambakkam or Meenambakkam, Madras has held its ground. Sure, the weather is a trial. If you can survive that, you can survive anything,

As the May Madham song croons, inga illa jOli/ packet gaali/aanaa life-O jolly jolly.

Published on August 22, 2014

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