Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chennaiites - super kings

Chennai (formerly Madras) has not changed. Simple inhabitants who stun you with kindness and warmth, beautiful Marina beach, packed buses, stinking Cooum riverpath, people who piss anywhere even when surrounded by hundred others, politics and movie-addicted populace, slow and steady progress in terms of infrastructure.
Development here is snail-paced. Most places look and smell the same as I had witnessed three decades ago. The IT boom had given a wrong impression that the city had turned rich. The real estate prices shot up beyond imagination. Now that the bubble has burst, prices are sliding.
If you want to give credit to the Chennaiites, it should be for their sense of humour. As I mentioned bus fares were slashed to woo electorate. A bus conductor kept the entire fleet of passengers in splits. “Enjoy, just pay half the price,” he kept commenting. “My mom is stingy. She took an ordinary bus thinking they charge the old fare in luxury buses,” she said. “Go and fetch her,” commented ththe conductor. The crowd was heavy and one guy stamped on the toe of the conductor. “Is this a punishment for offering you lower fares?” joked the conductor.
I hardly traveled by buses during my earlier visits. This time I decided to relish the original charm of city life. But the true reason is also that the auto rickshaws (three-wheel vehicles), which are an alternative to local buses, charge absurd fares. If you pay Rs10 for a bus trip, the rickshaw guys demand as much as Rs350, which is daylight robbery. The fact remains that several rickshaws are owned or patronized by policemen and politicians and hence for decades no ruling party ever dared to rectify this looting pattern.
(PS: Wrote this post last week but could post only today...sorry)


  1. usually in Delhi, a bus conductor has a permanent scowl on his face...nice to know that in Chennai they smile and make others also smile...

  2. Hello Ramesh Bhai,

    Hope you are having a great time; glad that you had a chance to share this piece after a short gap.

    It was altogether a nice read about Chennai, especially that little humour you packed in between :)


  3. Namaste, my good friend. It's so wonderful to see a post from you this morning. So maybe next week we will get a post from this week? I hope! I hope it is sooner than that, but I know you must be so very busy! :)

    Your bus driver sounds very funny. I love riding the ECU (East Carolina University) bus here in Greenville. It is cheap and clean. Your rickshaws remind me of the taxis here in Greenville...ridiculously overpriced. Only in a dire emergency would I call on one of those gougers!!!

    Please keep safe. Wishing you and your family health and happiness and looking forward to your next post. Peace and affection.

  4. Hey, I am first! Can't believe it:)

  5. Oh, I just wanted to say: welcome in the club, fellow bus traveler:) Even though Swiss taxis are not owned by policeman and politicians (I think?), they are exorbitant expensive.

  6. Yeah! experienced the same thing which i recently been to chennai. Must say! people there are kind enough..Roads are quite good compared to Bangalore. Only problem i feel in chennai is that its Damn toooooooooo Hot..


  7. Awesome read. I know its not funny when you get looted by the autowalas. Experienced similar stuff in Pune. Mumbai mein pitai ho jayegee!

    Hope you are enjoying your stay!

  8. Hmmmm I guess Auto Rick wallahs run a racket everywhere...

  9. Hey where have u been? I know I have been away for a bit. Just thought would drop in to say HI!