They say there is no sense as evocative as the sense of smell, maybe that’s why I still remember the time I took my first whiff of Chennai. It was midnight in early June and I was about to step out of the deodorized sterility of the city’s excuse-for-an-airport. I was readying myself for a blast of hot air from the bowels of an equatorial hell with an attached steam chamber. Thankfully, that blast never came, or I wouldn’t have been recounting this as fondly. What greeted me was the aroma of the wet earth, the patter of rainfall on the aluminium roof of the terminal; a cool breeze ruffled my unruly curls and I remember thinking to myself as I stepped onto the concrete: hell, this ain’t half as bad as people make it out to be. Continue reading
Remembering Chennai evokes a chequerboard of emotions in me, both black and white and almost in equal measure. And before the recent past transforms into the good ol’ days, imbuing every memory with a glossy sheen of forgetful nostalgia, I thought I should record my thoughts about this city that was beginning to feel like home; before it got too hot. I mean Madras did give me a few things to cherish: it taught me to take pride in sporting a stache, its ghee-laden cuisine bestowed upon me my slight (in my imagination) potbelly that I’ll have to work off, and it gave me a rigorous training in reporting around a completely alien tongue that should hold me in good stead. Continue reading
Okay, first things first. The God Of Small Things is a very very clever book, but what makes it exceptional is that it is both beautiful and crafty, a rare combination. This book has structure. Lots of it. She effectively creates a language of her own, a juvenile lucid language which complements the wistful mood of the book beautifully. The plot moves around in space and time with masterful ease and one can’t help but experience a vague sense of foreboding, a prickly fear in the back of your neck. Continue reading
New Kid On The Block
There is a fresh force out to upset the lucrative gravy train that has become the lot of Tamil Nadu politics. Out of the second floor of a nondescript building in Kilpauk, a motley crew of civil society activists, stockbrokers, rickshawwallahs, teachers, are preparing a roadmap for political revolution in Tamil Nadu from scratch. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a primarily North Indian party with a Hindi title, has entered the alien political terrain of Tamil Nadu on an anti-corruption plank with the 2014 General Elections in its crosshairs. Their numbers are rapidly multiplying. The movement is adding a thousand members to its rolls each day. Within two months of its inaugration, AAP Tamil Nadu has acquired a staggering 1,00,000 members, according to party sources. Continue reading
Just a stone’s throw from the sands of Marina Beach in Chennai lies the Santhome Basilica, a towering structure in pristine white that is one of the only three churches in the world to house the remains of the one of the original Apostles of Jesus, St. Thomas or Doubting Thomas, who is most famous for refusing to believe in the resurrection of Jesus until he saw the physical injuries on Jesus’ body and for being instrumental in spreading Christianity in South India back in the 1st century A.D. Continue reading
We were standing amidst the sounds and sights of the sea: the wind was in our hair, the waves boomed distantly, and the birds chirped incessantly. In front of us loomed the Shore Temple, a somber grey structure that immediately transported us to a different era in South Indian history. Behind the temple, the Bay of Bengal stretched in front of our eyes like a vast piece of blue green velvet draped across the horizon, dancing to the wind. Like all ancient monuments, but even more so because of the violent sea, the temple retained in its ruinous beauty, a sense of decaying grandeur, as if time, like termites, was eating away at its existential foundations. It had lost the original intent behind its construction and become that ubiquitous national commodity, a heritage site.