Chennai Diaries

It has been almost a year since I left Chennaioldmadras to start work in Bangalore. The memories are faint and the emotions are in traces.

I remember many a nice day spent rollicking in my grand parent’s place in Annanagar, Chennai. It is now a faint remembrance of what it used to represent a decade or more ago. A decade ago it would be a potboiler of childhood fantasies. I used to spend hours with just about a patch of mud, building imperfectly perfect castles and cavernous pits to snare that imaginary thug from tales of yonder. A couple of rupees from my mother could end up in hours of budgeting all the goodies that I could afford with that money. The sound of tinker-bells meant either ice-cream lollies or better still, candies being sold in imaginative, bulbous glass containers. The same sound at night could only mean Kulfi, which was sadly out-of-reach for the reason of persistent and menacing common-cold. Grandpa’s snoring could only mean that we could go to the terrace and jump on the roof so that he would come thundering out the the house cursing all of us as he couldn’t possible beat all of us.

All I remembered is an instant, like worn out photograph-negatives that you find in run down boxes from the attic. The trail is missing and so are the players.



Morn@2500 mts above mean sea level


Drizzle in the air.

Ululations in the landscape.

Wood crackling in the hearth.

Booze in my veins.

Like iron being worked in a furnace,…ideas are born.

I speak and forget at the same time.

Two to tango, but one to live.

Thick scent of blood, sure is thicker than water.

Mind is free and the shroud of life is but a thin veil.

Wander for a moment, what seems like a moment.

Back in a few hours.

I sing to myself,

“C’mon baby light my fire!”


Had about an hour and a half to kill in between meetings, in Madras.

Set out to Ramakrishna Math situated in Mandaveli. I returned to this place afer a gap of close to 5 years. Memories apart, I went to the free footwear stall and deposited my footwear there. I cam out of the stall to see a few women chit chatting in a low tone and going in a direction which led to the rear of the Math. I did not apply myself to the phenomenon and proceeded inside the Math. I sat down somewhere only to be disturbed by an elderly gentleman who liked it for the apparent reason that he could place his bag in a comfortable position (??!). I got disurbed by a phone call next and had to come outside the Math to attend the call. As I was speaking over the telephone I realised that the women were going in circles around the Math.

I felt rage and laughter at the same time. Rage that they would forget the point of coming to the Math and go around in circles as they would any other Temple in South India, and laughter that they wait in the precincts while all the action is inside. When will knowledge shine on them so that they may embrace all that is to offer.

What is religion?

Religion is each unto themselves!

Where is my paper? 


I grew up with this on my lips every time I spoke to one of my colleagues, acquaintances, friends in and around Madras. I cannot claim to have traveled all over, but I have traveled decently across India. I have not come across this sort of camaraderie anywhere else. I must qualify that I do not say the above sentence as a sort of superiority, but am only saying that it is different around here.


I noticed this because one of my friends pointed out that my entire demeanor changes when I am speaking to one of my friends from around here. I have come to notice that I speak in a boisterous, nasal and rough tone when I am speaking to my friends from around here. My location doesn’t matter in the least. It is the connect. My tone starts going higher than usual and I start reliving memories.


The word ‘Machan’ is supposed to mean brother-in-law. It reminds me of the Hindi word ‘Saala’, which means the same. It is also interesting to note that both these words have a lingo attached to them, which is different from what they mean in reality and also different from each other. While ‘Saala’ or rather ‘Saale’ is used with a negative connotation, ‘Machan’ is much more casual. Any person from Madras will respond to this, irrespective of the context. ‘Machan’ might mean anything on the orkut scale of

1. Never met



4.Good friend

5.Best friend (my addition to the orkut scale)

It is an ice-breaker, social stroke, positive re-affirmation only amongst equals or from a person of higher social stature to one below. It is informal and casual. It might sometime be shortened to ‘Machi’, but the effect remains the same. It has to be prounounced correctly to bring about the right effect.

Machan ( Ma, as in Mud; Ch, as in church, N as it is)

Machi ( Ma as in mud, greater emphasis on the Ch, as in Cheese)


If I run a google search on all the conversations that I have ever had, I guess this word would figure in more than half my conversations. I throws light on my friends circle (past) and the ubiquitous use of this word around here. This is Madras,…Machan Land!



You might find these links interesting.

And this