23 November, 2005

Holidays and afterwards(2)

I suddenly found that the landing time was nearing. The air crew were rushing to set things alright. We started looking down. Many times I have felt bit bad when the plane flies around Madras. Having flown across continents, especially on some major cities of the world, and seeing the twinkling lights of those cities appearing grand, it appears very dark when we fly on Madras. Even our Bombay is grand. I have always admired while flying over Dubai. Anyone from the plane can make it out that Dubai is a rich place on looking at the lighting over the city. Unfortunately when we fly over Madras, I have looked into the eyes of foreigners visiting for the first time. They used to wonder whether this is the place we need to land. My Italian co-passenger asked me the same question. I have been handling this always by saying the Airport is in suburb. (Sand not sticking on Moustache story). Also the anxiety of reaching our hometown dies soon on seeing the looks of the airport from the air-craft. This time I found that few letters in the word 'INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT' missing. Why can't it be just named as Madras/Chennai International airport. This was another question posed by foreigners to me. Why the names of Cities change in India example Madras/Chennai, Bombay/Mumbai. Most of the foreigners have wondered. Let me stop with this and not make the citizens start another demonstration.

After the plane touched land and stopped it took another 20 minutes for the doors to be opened. It is awful to see the passengers on their toes waiting to rush out. These are the crucial moments. Anyhow after much relief the doors opened and crowd started moving out. I also do not understand why our people who are very disciplined in other international airports (atleast tend to be) start rushing once the plane lands at Chennai. I remember a gentleman once commented to his wife in Frankfurt " Yennama... disciplined manusha parthiyadi . Ahah.... yeppadi ozhunga queuela nikkara....". The same gentleman started trying to squeeze himself in the middle of a queue in Chennai. I intervened and said " Yenna sir... Neenga than Frankfurt-la appadi praise panneengo.... Ippa super squeezing in the middle....". He blushed and started moving ahead.

Needless to say while in the queue some of our Tamil youngies who return with their families speaking Tamil as if they have just learnt it in the flight annoys me. We used to call them as MGFT (Mother Gown Father Tie) in our school days.

The next disappointment was in the baggage clearance. I never know why the baggages arrive so slowly. This time I had to wait for more than 2 hours. Though we need to appreciate the way immigration officials quickly dispose the passengers, also few can be trained how to smile. After dreaming for a holiday, and arriving at our hometown, these are the first public servants whom we come across. Though many little things like scanning hand baggage, treating passengers , packing luggages facility available at the airport, scrutinising the passport photo and the passengers like CID Singaram have changed in the recent years, there are more areas which have to change a lot. Everytime I have seen few assistants asking for money to innocent oldies returning after nursing their grandchildren/daughters sugaprasavams. Hope the changes happen soon.

After all this ordeal, when you push yourself out of the Airport there are hundreds of them waiting to see their dear and near ones. Finally old diesel 'Ambassador' welcomes you with dur...durr....durr...durr engine sound.

I stayed at my cousin's house in TNagar. Mosquitoes outnumbered my relatives in welcoming me when I reached TNagar. You would have heard much about those rains, floods. The roads were so bad in so many parts of the City, I had to fold my jeans till knee level, remove my shoes and socks (Mind you they were not stinking... I wash them daily) in one hand and all the documents in another hand to reach the VFS office the next day in order to apply Visa for my Mom. I think this is not the best season to visit Chennai on Holidays.

My best part of my stay was the bloggers meet. It was really exciting. Srivatsan had intimated me about the place and time. It was bit difficult to get in touch with him. During my first conversation with Srivatsan, it looked as if you had talked with this person many times in your life. He is such a friendly and wonderful guy. I started admiring him for being a Ilaiyaraja fan and also that he adores Enfield, Bullet as I do. We decided to meet at 'Newyorker' a restaurant near Rani Seetha Hall. I was there on time and went and occupied a six seater in advance. Believe me I did not put any kerchief for others. There were two persons waiting in front of the restaurant. I guessed that to be 'Jo'. I requested one of the waiters to invite them inside. My guess was right. Jo arrived with a huge smile and his friend. Jo is a very humble and simple guy. Then arrived Srivatsan. Since I had seen his picture in one of the blog and he was walking with a helmet it was easy to guess. Srivatsan is a very interesting person too. After few minutes Prabhu Karthik arrived. He looks fairer in his profile than in person. I do not blame him because he rides motor cycle on Chennai roads. He was simple and we never wasted our time. Vatsan seems to be familiar with the menu and I took his advise in ordering. We had a wonderful time. We requested Jo to sing a song and I recorded it. Vatsan requested the restaurant manager to reduce the volume of music played and they did so. ( Athuthanda.... Chennai.... indha voorula nadakkuma.... Balaji inside me laughed...Yennakkul oruvan...) Though the meeting was short it was also sweet. Another friend of Jo joined us. He was also a bit humorous. I think all of us had met for the first time except PK and Vatsan. But it appeared as though we were meeting for the nth time. This is one of the advantage of bloggging. I should thank PK for being there with patience, in spite of his busy work. After our lunch we decided to have a picture and split to meet Jeevan another blogger. I cautioned Vatsan about my fear with Chennai traffic. But Vatsan took me on his Enfield so safely. It was a pleasure to be a pillion rider along with Vatsan.

We reached Jeevan's house and it appeared that Vatsan was familiar with Jeevan's family. Jeevan appears to be very shy. Looks are deceptive. I could never believe whether he is the one who blogs regularly. He is so quiet and hardly talks. He introduced his family. His mother was proud of him and so his grand mother. Though she did not talk much, I could see from the happiness on her face that she was proud of her grandson. After having a formal chat, Jeevan played his keyboard for us. WOW.... He is so talented with his music skills. I was surprised when I came to know that he did not have any formal tuition in learning those skills. He played couple of songs for us. I remember how much I struggled to play the first line of 'Vasegara' song when I had a key board. Jeevan could play the full song. Hats off to you Jeevan!!! Please remember each one of us are talented in our own way. Everyone is unique. With a heavy heart I left Jeevan's house. It was unforgettable to see him waving out from the balcony. I looked back after sitting on Vatsan's Enfield. The greatest surprise came later. During my conversation I came to know that Vatsan was a product of 'THE SCHOOL' in Adayar. I have always dreamnt of putting my kids in 'THE SCHOOL'. No wonder why Vatsan is such a nice person. School moulds children. Later Vatsan dropped me closer to Pondy Bazaar from where cursing my fate(to travel in an Auto) got into a Auto. There was a surprise inside too. The driver asked whether I was a non-chennaite. When I questioned him back, he said that he was surprised by my respectful language. He said that he was treated with respect after many days by a passenger, and felt elated. He is a native of Coimbatore and he has hardly found any Chennaite calling him with respect. I changed my views on Auto drivers too. He did not argue for the fare and I did not want to under pay a good Auto driver. He was so good that he was chatting with me for five minutes after dropping me at home.

My mother who was looking from the balcony asked " Yenna auto driver friend eh... Ivalluvu neram pesindu iruntheenga. Oru vellai avarum blog adhu idhunnu ....".

I walked into the house smilingly thinking about the wonderful day I had.

( I promise I shall finish my holidays and afterwards post with one more episode....
to be continued....)


Jeevan said...

enna balaji sir namma Chennai avalavu kevalama irukku, flight irunthu parka.. When they see there own city, no one will be follow discipline, it is our people’s policy. In chennai, which school did u learn friend?

There is much Call Taxi in Airport, like Maruthi OMNI, TATA Indiaca, why u select old Ambassador?. You know chennai is famous for Mosquitoes. Really Vatsan was a very nice guy. I thank vatsan for reach you to my house, with out stress. I missed to hear Jo’s song in live.

Thanks for your kind words about me. Sure I will try to play many songs in keyboard. After u leave my home, I feel little sad, because I dint talk to you much. Very sorry for that. When I meet you next time, I will try to talk with you with out shy

You are very friendly with all of them, that why the Auto driver also became friend for you.

ada-paavi!!!! said...

namba ooru aalunga, india la Q la ellam nikka mattanga, here there is order in chaos, there chaos distorts order, and makkal follow policy of in rome, act like a roman.

enna ella ooru orey madri irukkanama?apporam india la inda madri corruption is here to stay, u cant expect first world services here, itlldevelop over time

sir tat i drove slowly coz my bike was running on reserve, 40 la pona i can extract max milage frm bike, ungale meet pannathu was nice,

there is a huge diff between ur pic in profile n how u look in person,

Jagan said...

cool ..u got to meet these guys .

Jo said...

Yeah, as you said blogging helped me to talk to everyone like we are long time friends. :-)

And I look forward to our next meeting! :D

வேதா said...

it seems that though ur arrival in chennai might have started in a gloomy mood,the stay might have been very memorable to u.thats chennai balaji sir! always expect the unexpected in our city.(we didnt expect heavy rain,(even raining)in our city.u have been in the city during the historical rainfall the city has experienced.hope u enjoyed it.

Prabu Karthik said...

Chennai landing :)
neenga rombo edhirparkareengo:)

and me being busy... seri seri apdiye irukatum :)

Balaji S Rajan said...

Jeevan - No problem for being friendly. Life had to be lived very simple. We should not complicate it. I love meeting people and helping. But I have changed a lot. What to do, as you grow older you mature more.

Vatsan - But I enjoyed your riding. Yennathan irunthallum thideernnu roadla reserve petrol theernthu poi nadakka vitruka vendam... I enjoyed it but innum niraiya pesa muidyalaiyennu vartham.

Jo - I thought I will be meeting in closed doors ( like in some bloggers house so that I could record more songs sung by you) Anyhow, it was nice.

PK - Inimey yethir parkalaingo.... Actually Tirisulam vandha vudaney Namba voorukku vandhutomnu mind set pannikaradhu vundu... But irundhalum... oru kumural than... Namba vooru ippadi aanal yevallavu nalla irukum...nu oru aathangam than...

Veda - Vendam... Inimey antha madras mazhai parka vendam.... Aiyo makkal padra avasthaigalai parkum podhu romba kashtama irunthathu... We have potential in everything but satisfied. Actually, whose fault. If the government functions well without swindling public, and maintaining the public system, everything will be alright.