For the upcoming post graduation counselling, I am bound to turn up with certain certificates from the university last attended. Unsurprisingly, I found myself not to be in possession of said documents and am on a detour to Chennai to obtain the same before the big day, accompanied by Mom. (Any event relating to academic accomplishment is generally viewed as ‘the big day’ in the medical community since such trivial things as weddings hold little importance in our lives)
We reached Chennai at around 6 in the morning and rushed off to Amigo LP’s house to freshen up and reach the university in time to beat any other potential aspirant of certificate acquisition, in accordance with the rules of the rat race. The local trains were not very crowded (I was fooled into thinking this is a normal phenomenon) and once we reached the university gates, we were greeted by a drum-and-horns band committed to blowing the ear drums out of anyone who dared to stay in the vicinity for more than a couple of seconds. I thought this was standard procedure as well. It was only when I saw the banners and floral decorations that I realised the day had been proclaimed a government holiday to commemorate the 100th birthday of the late actor/chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Dr.M.G.R who, ironically, our university happens to be named after.
Our plans thus effectively wasted, we looked to LP to provide us with alternative excitements for the day. After some consideration, we decided to descend upon Thyagaraja Nagar, or T Nagar as it is fondly called, the perennial flea market of the city.
We arrived there in the early hours, just as the shops were being set up. The street undergoes a steady metamorphosis through each day, with the crowd trickling in during the morning and turning into a human high tide by evening that is sure to literally sweep you off your feet to be washed ashore at the feet of whoever happens to be offering the biggest discounts at the moment. On my virginal visit some years ago, two seconds after venturing in I found myself separated from my able friends and being thrust into a textile shop to haggle for a shawl I didnot need or desire. I shuddered at the memory and wondered if Mom needed protection.
Those who have been through my previous posts may know that Mom has lived the entirety of her life taking care of two ungrateful souls, Father and me, and has not had many chances of roaming around and exploring the world outside of our residential area. She’s extremely street smart and carries her own in a way I never could, and was delighted at getting an opportunity to explore whatever little bits of Chennai as could be managed. LP and I decided to make sure she got the most out of it.
Shopping was obviously on top of the list. I treated Mom to her choice of bags and footwear and grabbed some for myself too. But more importantly, it was her taste buds I wanted to entice.
No bustling street in Tamil Nadu is complete without the vendors of varied snacks. Stalls routinely sell boiled corn mixed with butter/chilli as per command and are served as instant healthy refreshment in paper cups. I used to love these during my college days and Mom in turn nodded agreement after tasting her first spoonful.
Other roadside favours are bhel puri, pani puri, assorted ice cream cones, lime soda and rose milk.
Since we were travelling I decided to forego the diarrhoeal roadside option and have safer versions of the same at the famous Adyar Anand Bhavan aka A2B. I chanced upon a delightful strawberry cake there and had my fill while Mom and L happily munched on pani Puri and sipped Rose Milk. The pomegranate juice that I ordered drew another excited ooh! from Mom. She readily tasted and approved of the same too.
It was a very happy day indeed. The icing on the cake were of course our spoils from the day that we managed to procure without drilling a huge hole in my wallet.
Is it any wonder that I love Chennai?!