When my friend, D called me up and asked if I am interested to go for a two day crash course in Chennai, I had nothing much to think about.. I promptly gave my Yes. Only then did I ask the other details. I came to know that two of her friends, J and N, will be joining too, and I had seen them only once. Anyways I convinced my parents and got their assent.
We checked for the tickets. Chennai is 12 hours away from our native. But we didn’t get the tickets. So we had to opt a train which takes a different route and it takes 18 and odd hours to reach Chennai. Everybody around us started blah-blah’ing that we have taken the most stupid decision ever. That we are gona die of boredom. And to top it all, return tickets also was booked for the same train. Advices poured in from all sides to see if we can avail Tatkal. But we knew, this was exactly what we wanted. Boredom would be something which is nowhere in our sight.
And yes.. Those 5 days which we spent together.. To say that it was a blast would be an underestimation. In fact, now I feel jealous of people who can beautifully pick up the right words and pass on the joy they felt to the readers through words. Aaargh.. I am hopless.
Chennai was a place we four have only heard of us. We had zero Tamil knowledge. And there were so many people around us who wanted to “help” us.
There were the ones who said you cannot live in Chennai without knowing Tamil. All the bus displays and all will be in Tamil. Then there were the ones who said once you get down at a place and ask for the direction, they will understand that you are new to this place and they will misguide you..
And it went on.
We googled about the places to visit to the food to taste to safe accommodations to what not. The moment our parents waived us good bye from the railway station, we instantly switched to the masti mode. Two girls and two boys. We talked and laughed and sang and pulled each others legs. We had a great time. We slept late and got up early, for we didn’t want to miss anything. Chennai came a lot sooner than it should have that morning. 18 hours flew in the blink of an eye.
We reached Chennai at morning 5 the next day. The sun was already up unlike in Kerala. We had a cup of coffee and started exploring the city. We spent a few minutes infront of the Automatic ticket vending machine which showed the route of suburban trains of Chennai. We got an idea on what and where. We reached the ladies hostel which we have booked in advance and J and N hired a room nearby. We had only one day for the outing as we had full day classes on the next two days and had to return by night train on the second day after class.
The only acquaintance we have with Tamil are the one which we developed watching Tamil Movies. We shopped at T-Nagar. Had hot dosais from Saravana Bhavan. Watched the sun set at Marina beach. We wanted to go to Express Avenue as well. Somebody guided us to get down at Light House station and that EA is at walkable distance. After spending some time in Marina Beach we decided to go to EA and got into the train and got down at Light House station. We started walking… Gosh.. Instead of EA we reached some other part of the same Marina Beach again. So we decided to leave EA plan and sat there chit-chatting. We had one of the loveliest evenings of our life there.
We wandered aimlessly through the city till 9 o clock. The sides of the streets are very busy filled with vendors selling everything from clothes to bangles to bindi packets to toys to combs to earrings to chains to coconuts. There is hardly a lady who does not have a string of jasmine on their beautifully plaited hair. So we also decided to buy one.
Next two days were occupied with full day classes. But before we returned, we paid a short visit to Express Avenue as well.
Transportation is very cheap in Chennai. Suburban trains run very frequently. Even the local city busses are cheap.
In Kerala, the bus conductor actually comes to us to collect the cash and give tickets. I have seen in Tamil movies that this is not the case in TN. The system of passing the money and returning the balance and ticket was quite amusing when we did it in person. We thought, had it been here in our native, the money would have gone to the pockets of some passenger instead of reaching the conductor.
Another interesting incident which made us laugh to no limits… On the way back from EA in a city bus, the seat next to mine was vacant. J and N were sitting behind me. An old lady came and asked me something. I didn’t understand a bit. She repeated and I gave her the same blank expression. As she was still standing there without occupying the seat, I thought she was asking for the side seat. When I started to get up, she said ukaaruma ukaaru ukaaru and sat in the seat next to me. I turned at my friends sitting behind me and gave a confused smile (which said Oh man.. what did this lady just say) .. only to see that the they have already bursted out with a loud round of laughter. The lady also turned back and they stopped laughing all on a sudden. There was a minute of silence. Then she started laughing. She got up from the seat and said something like, “oh you left the seat vacant for him to sit. I am sorry. Ok.. you people carry on. I will move to some other seat.” She gave a naughty look and moved to some other seat. Gosshhh.. She had mistaken us. None of us knew what to do. We sat trying hard not to laugh at her. We had to get down at the next stop. When I got up, she said take care dear. Its already dark and gave a naughty smile again. We somehow got down and busted out from the bus stop till our bellies ached. (Later, I learned that all she asked me was, can I sit here? Is this vacant?)
Altogether it was a lovely trip. Summer is not so hard at Chennai this year. We had a pleasant stay. We literally forgot that we had come to attend the class and that the exam is due in a month.
And as I mentioned in the beginning, the two other than D were just acquaintance for me. But after this trip, all the three became my close friends. They gave me a gift welcoming me to their gang.. A coffee mug which said, Whenever you will need a friend to talk to, you will always find me beside you!
And let me mention one more incident. One night, after the dinner, J and N left us at our hostel and went to their room. On the way to their room, they saw the Menu displayed in a hotel: Hyderabadi Chicken, Hyderabadi prawns. They couldn’t control. They instantly jumped in and had. They made sure that D and me remain unaware of all these episodes.. But they vomited very badly that night and had to tell us at last. D was very angry with them. First for having those blah blahs without taking us. Secondly, for hiding it from us. But we instantly made up. The coffee mug which J and N presented her was of Angry Bird!!
Five days of pure joy. I miss you D, J and N. Those belly aching laughters. Those moment when our eyes were wet after a big laughter. I miss u..
Thank you for giving me such beautiful memories.
Thank you for your friendship.
Thank you for making me comfortable in your gang. I had absolutely no “third person syndrome”..
Looking forward for our next trip together..
Image courtesy: Google Images