Sunday Chronicles…

12Sep06

Five minutes into the walk to the bus stop, I was already sweating. After a few minutes’ wait, I boarded a medieval matador van that shouted at the top of its voice claiming to be going to Thiruvanmiyur, which is where I had to be going.

I found myself a place at the far right corner close to the window, so I could have some windy relief from the sweat. As the queer little guy came to collect the fare, he quickly gestured me to get up from that place and move to a seat where I would not get any wind. “Ladies would sit there”, he answered, when I reluctantly asked him what the matter was. Ladies would sit there. In this city, you are not allowed to sit next to a woman (or the other way round), unless you know her personally.

Probably my reacting to such a remark seemed strange to the people around. Or was it my looks, that made a few at my newly seated place stare at me with gaping half-drowsy (it was only 7 after all) eyes as though I were a strange human-like species that escaped out of the Vandalur zoo (which, incidentally, is not very far from where I was). A mid-20s bloke wearing a white tee with a red half-sleeve, a black jean and a Reebok shoe, carrying a camera in hand was probably a tad too flashy for the suburban outskirts of the city.

Well into the afternoon I was on my way with a couple of friends on the dusty and always busy streets of Pondy Bazaar. We started walking beside the congested road on a tiny pavement blotted with pavement-shops selling everything from a pen to high-end electronics. But not too much of what I was looking for – books. After strolling and sweating and window shopping, we finally made headway to the erstwhile happening mall of the city – Spencers. But not before we helped ourselves to a bowl of fruit chat and some pani puris on the roadside of Mount Road, that hosts the Spencers.

Spencers is a large mall a la Forum in Bangalore minus the PVR cinemas. A little bigger, and more crowded. And did I mention, more sweaty. After gulping a badly needed Coke, we made it to Landmark and the eventual enchantment of the sight of books dragging me into its fold. Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, Vikram Seth’s All you who sleep tonight, Iris Murdoch’s Booker winning The sea, The sea were my picks for the evening – that should hold my sanity for the next few days.

And so, finally I decided to be kind on those patiently waiting for me to finish my romancing with the books and made my way to the payment counter. An ice cream followed. And back to Thiruvanmiyur for a gulp of another cold drink and an Onion Uthappam dinner.

Now came the biggest challenge of the day – getting back to my room. It was past 10 at night and an auto finally obliged for a whopping 150 bucks. And the cracked roads didn’t help my sleepy tired body and the sore throat any bit. But the AC in the room and the sight of pillow was a warming welcome.

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11 Responses to “Sunday Chronicles…”

  1. All you who sleep tonight
    far from the ones you love
    no hand to left or right
    and emptiness above-
    Know that you aren’t alone
    the whole world shares your tears
    some for two nights or one
    and some for all their years.

    I could not help but bang out the poem from the confines of my memory. His poetry is way better than his prose for sure. And the title of the book is so delectable. Others include: Him with his foot in his mouth and other stories, The ballad of the sad cafe, First love and other sorrows, the John Mc Donald series, to name a few.

  2. The others in the comment was in reference to books with interesting titles. Nice topic for a blog, ya?

  3. 3 BewitchinglyBeautiful

    Why is it so taboo to sit by a woman, if you’re not personally aquatinted??? That’s ridiculous! Whatever happened to your ppl and Indian rights? Ugh. That makes me super angry…**Why anyone would put up with having assigned seats**…is beyond me. If I saw a man…who was sweating profusely…and having a difficult time with the heat. I would have gotten up to give him my seat. You guys should picket the government…that’s a bunch of BULL! Geezz! Ok…with my venting out…Yeah. You’re very passionate when it comes to your books…It’s kind of cute. lol

  4. 4 Kishore

    Prat,
    Amazing!

    Bewitching,
    Chennai is historically known for being conservative. And locals do their bit of picketing every now and then.. But you wouldnt find this happening in Bangalore, or Mumbai, or New Delhi.

  5. Uthappam link is too much.. lol! :D

  6. Sitting here in bangalore and reading the post, I long to be in all those places -Pondy bazar, Mount Road, Chennai buses etc but the minute I am there all I can think about is the sweat and I want to get back to bangalore. But how come chennaites would rather not live anywhere else, I wonder!

  7. Good one, Kishore. Reads well.

    About, sharing seat with women — well, I find this separate seating arrangement — quite funny. Gone are those days when a lot could happen by just sharing a seat! The world– not just the cities even villages — has changes, is it not? Anyway, it is strictly a personal opinion.

  8. I am staying at Chennai for the past four years or so. Of course it’s so humid here. It sweats a lot in summer. But not as much in other seasons. I think Kishore is overdoing his sweating job in Chennai ;-).

  9. would love to steal those books. ;-)

  10. 10 Kishore

    Phoenix,
    :)

    Usha,
    Hometown will always be the best place for anyone, na?

    Pradeep,
    Do agree with you!

    Mahen,
    Chennai is hot sticky sweaty.

    Arunima,
    Be my guest.. ;)

  11. True.

    Women who claim all the 33 pc reservations and find themselves defeated find that at least they should get some victory with these getting a dedicated seat in the buses. Penny-wise and Pound foolish though.

    I have’nt experienced this issue elsewhere be it Bangalore or New Delhi. Chennai acutely suffers from this syndrome. It should be purely from within the poeple’s heart that they should do away from this narrow vision and be more broad-minded.


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