Chennai? Are you going to Chennai?
For FUN! LOL. What’s wrong with you man?
Yes, these were the exact responses I was bombarded with after I told my bitches about my weekend plan. I repeat, I went to Chennai over the weekend to “ENJOY “in Chennai. It was a perfect getaway from the bustling Bangaloren lifestyle. I literally had a foodgasm! We had a great time. We as in Dua Saab (yaaron ka yaar Mayank Dua) and Batman.
Chennai always had this special place inside my heart ever since I dated a Tamilian. Oh! And how can I forget Chetan Bhagat? Neither am I a huge fan of his writing now, nor would I recommend his books except 2-States. Well, to be honest it had a role to play. After a set of serious debates, negative inputs from Pinky and Ajay Bhai, ignoring Pune and other cooler options and sticking to “How-can-I-dislike-a-place-I-have-never-been-to” Chennai was finally locked. Glad, I took that call. I volunteered myself for planning the whole thing as always and Dua Saab handled the online ticketing front.
D-Day arrived. Well, it wasn’t a usual Friday. The adventure began early morning itself. When the planner goes to salon and comes out as a retard. All, he had said was “Bhaiya I want a summer-cut”.Before he could foresee the outcome, it was too late. Trust me, my mom’s reply was
“Son, firstly you quit your well-paying white collared job and now this. No, girl will even look at you. Please use the tiny little brain of yours at times. Dumbasss! (She didn’t say the last word though).”
I wrapped the day early, went back home, picked my backpack and left for Dua’s mansion. We hogged some yummy Aaloo Paranthas before boarding our bus from Madiwala.
Day-1: Saturday May 23, 2015
00:00 hours – We started the journey with some catching up, which precisely included – catching up with some Tesco stuff, Dua Saab’s love life, the tales of my struggling startup phase and humming of our anthem – Yeh Veeraniyaan. We reached Chennai around 6 am, got down at Central and took an auto in search of an economy stay. “Brace Yourself Amma is coming “was the theme of the day. Jayalalitha was supposed to take the oath as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. People had flown down to Madras to attend the event from all the corners of the state. All thanks to the lovely lady, all the rooms were booked and we managed to get a room finally in our sixth attempt. Hotel White Park it was. On the way, we came across Chepauk Stadium as well. That was the first genuine smile on our faces in that scorching heat.
As soon as we checked into the hotel, immediately I told Dua Saab to kick-off as we had a lot to tick-off the list. Dua Saab gave me a subtle look and politely asked me to calm the fuck down and sleep off for a while. Eventually, we both ended up sleeping for three hours which was just supposed to be a 15 minute power nap.
10:30 hours – We were ready in our white tees (The Cricket Gully) and cargos with shades and backpacks clung to our bodies. It was time to convert the potential energy to kinetic.
With a lot of skepticism, we got into a Black-Yellow auto rickshaw to head towards our first eatery joint – Ratna Café, Triplicane. To our sheer surprise, this guy didn’t overcharge us but the worst part, no one travels on a meter in Chennai even during the daytime. Well, you need to deal with it in case you do not believe in the technological advancements like OlaCabs.
The ambience of the restaurant was not at all good. It looked like a college mess but trust the once you taste their sambhar, you will go bonkers. It’s the kind North Indians usually eat, the one on a spicier note. We had idly-vada with multiple refilling of the lip smacking sambhar. The best part, their waiters carry jugs filled with sambhar all the time, you need not have to ask for the replenishment.
We burped and moved on to our next hop in the list. Yes, the same list which I tricked Dua Saab into. Well, I did my part. I had all the to-visit locations ready for him on the paper, all he had to do was to connect the dots through his GPS and boom he did it in style. Cheers to our old man’s awesomeness. As opposed to his theory of saving energy for future, we decided to walk into those dingy lanes and finally reached Bombay Lassi, a small place behind Devi Theater. We tried their Chilled Lassi topped with Basundi and seriously it was worth the traveling in those extreme conditions.
From there we decided to take a walk down the memory lane. We visited the Government Museum.Right from the art to bronze to Science gallery everything was fascinating about that red colored institution and the best part is we bought some postcards from the Connemara Library. You lucky fellas, they are on your way.
Madhu, my colleague and a very good friend joined us from there and the trio set off for Sarvana Bhavan, Mylapore- The land of Temples. We ordered a ghee roast masala dosa, chili parotta and some masala fried idlies. My eyes were lit up seeing the size of the dosa. It was meant to give me family packs and the crumbled chili parantha was cooked to perfection as well. The amazing part about the idly was, it seemed to look like a Gobi-Manchurian. You cannot even call it a piece of rice. Meanwhile, Dua saab got high over the food and started cracking his deadly PJs. We a lot can happen over a Dosa.Highly recommended place. It has a lot of Chains globally but this junction amidst the temples is divine.
Later, we decided to go for a quick evening digestive stroll in the area and whoa we barged into a legendary place – Rayar’s Mess. You won’t even know if it’s a restaurant even if you are standing right in front of it. These guys serve the best coffee in the town, undoubtedly. There was no place to sit inside, so made use of the porch outside and had the coffee of our lives.
Madhu left and within no time using the highly optimized route we managed to reach the Kapaleshwar temple on time. After nurturing the religious side of the place it was time to go beachside – Elliot’s in Beasant Nagar. The beach is nicely maintained and is surrounded with too many eating options. We tried some corn and gave our moving bums some thoroughly deserved rest on the shore. Dua Saab was engrossed with admiring those waves meanwhile I was having my kind of fun – Reading. My second favorite activity after eating.
I read about a boardroom brawl and how Clem Hill beat the hell out of McAlister. After a relaxing evening we thought of giving the Broken Bridge a shot. The same bridge shown in the movie 2-States. Again, we took another auto to go to a place just 1 km from our location, thanks to our lazy ass Dua.Till now, everything was going as per the plan, which was highly unusual.
On the way, I was singing out loud – Mann Mast Magan, Bas Tera Naam Dohraye but our joy was short lived. Boom!Dua Saab got a notification from Book MY Show – “Time to Leave – Tanu Weds Manu Returns starts in one hour.” Holy Shit! Wasn’t that supposed to be tomorrow? How can I be so careless while booking, Dua sighed! Aaila, but anyhow we showed some agility and within a minute we thought of skipping the romantic Alia moment (FYI: we both love her, however dumb she might be) and decided to take the same auto to AGS Cinemas, Villivakkam.
But everything comes with an auto-charge in Chennai. We knew we were doomed and purposefully didn’t bargain. We immediately saw a 500 rupee drifting down the lane but we didn’t have a choice. I told the auto guy in a childish –tone “Anna show us the Narayan Karthikeyan in you. Bhagao“. He literally took it to his heart and took a U-turn in a flash on the sandy road. The auto lost its balance and we almost had a nearly-death encounter as we started to slide downwards towards the water belt. We had our balls inside our mouths and I was like “Bhagwan Jee aakhri ichcha to pooch lete”. Thanks to those sturdy bushes for saving our asses. We owe them one.
Later, I jumped out of the auto, followed by Dua Saab and the auto guy. Dua Saab was the bravest amongst the lot.Without giving a damn about his brand new UCB’s 800 bucks Chappal which was lost and the accidentally damaged phone cover, he started pushing the auto upwards on his own. I also added my force vector in the same direction and the auto guy started pulling the auto upwards from the front. Finally we did it. We were back on the surface. Meanwhile I was thanking GOD, our Dua Saab came up with another masterpiece – “Bhai Dua ka saath ho jiske, uska ghanta koi kuch ukhaad sakta hai.”. I took a deep breath looked up and sang – “Dua tera swagger laage sexy” and we started marching towards our Tanu jee.
Thanks to the fiasco, we reached 15 minutes late for the movie. Something that’s very rare in my life. I have a knack of reaching early to the theaters. I do not like to stamp on someone’s foot, who had the courtesy to reach early .My conscience doesn’t allow to block the view of a settled person. At the same time I believe in (Khandani Filmy Hoon. Aaya Hu To Saare Trailers Dekh Kar Jaunga) making full use of the paid resources. But this was an exception. Anyhow, the guy next to us was kind enough to share the plot we had missed. Kangana and Pappi Bhaiya stole the show. Never in my life had I imagined that I would watch a movie loaded with Haryanvi punches amidst a 99% Tamilian crowd and I would shout my lungs out on every dialogue.
The most we were cursing ourselves to spend a lot on the auto rides we came across an auto guy, who not only gave us an honest advice to travel via a local rail to reach back to Central at the earliest but also charged us a minimal 50 rupee fare to drop us till the Villivakkam Railway Station. Well, let’s not stereotype the crowd as the people usually do, there are great people out there as well.
At night,Dua Saab got a news which made him emotional and the day gradually ended with some philosophical talk with soulful music from Arijit Singh being played in the backdrop.
Day2: Sunday May 24, 2015
01:00 Hours – No one of us actually slept and were talking the whole while. In between Dua Saab comes with this – “I’ve reached to such a state in life,that only a few close buddies and family matter to me. Thak gaya hu doosro ke liye kar karke. Jab doosre value nahi karta toh bura lagta hai. Bas ab aur nahi!” I replied,”Dua Ho Ja Zara Matlabi” in a filmy style. I think both the fools deserve some slow claps here. Finally we crashed down.
Google Fit was clearly indicating that our Dua Saab had travelled 20 times his average steps in a day. Now, that was something fascinating to start the day. We checked out at sharp 10 and headed straight to the nearest Murugan Idly Shop. I could die for those Idlies, podi idly to be precise. Served on a Banana leaf with 4 kinds of chutneys on the side its steamed rice topped with a red-colored powder soaked in Ghee. It is something I can never forget and definitely intend to have it in the menu at my wedding (in whatever way it happens – Northie or a Southie). I would rate that dish at par with a cheese burst pizza on my food-scale. We hogged enough of those tiny little things to run on it for a day. At last we had a refreshing drink called as JIGARTHANDA to end the breakfast on a cooler note.
We went straight to Broadway Bus Terminal and boarded a 277B AC Volvo for Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram. We explored every corner of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Trust me, there is more than just stone carvings to the place. It’s beautiful. Both of us went into a teenager’s shoes and clicked pictures like crazy.
On the way back we got down near Nungambakkam and tried scavenging the area. Sadly, Royal Sandwich Shop was closed on a Sunday but The Fruits Shop on Greams Road made it up for that.The smoothies were amazing. Finally it was time to cross off the best and the most awaited place from my list – The Marina. It’s a paradise for seafood lovers. It has a fish-market theme. You can pick up the kind of seafood you like, weigh it and get it cooked as per your taste. I had my eyes on a sexy looking Black Pomfret the moment I had entered and decided to take it with me. Alongside that I had ordered some Prawns as well. Both were grilled to perfection and presented nicely with some fresh onions and juicy citrus lemons. I still wish to eat it as I pen this down.The staff was courteous and service was impeccable. Dua Saab in a parallel universe was busy eating some boring ghaas-phoos.
I didn’t even care to properly make a note of it and consider it worth mentioning here. I usually tend to become overly emotional and honest in case I’m high on good food and the same scenario happened. I went on gyaan-giving spree. I started sharing my other travel tales and how travel has made me a better person, a better friend.Hopefully, this turns out to be true in this case as well.
At last we reached our final destination, Shama Sardar Travels. We came across another good soul, who didn’t loot us. Charged the bare minimum from The Marina to Periamet. We were two hours early to our schedule, so a unanimous call on finding a place to watch the IPL final was taken. We are initially kicked out of one place but we couldn’t afford to not watch the game. We tried our luck again and this time we honestly told “Anna we are only here to see the match. Neither are we going to book a room here, nor are we eating anything. In case you don’t mind, we can sit and I am writer and I promise to spread a good word about you and the place on the internet”. And it worked. As promised thank you Mr. Badshah and SR Guest House, Periamet for a truly humble and modest behavior. Next time I am using your lodging. We moved out during the innings break out of courtesy and didn’t want to occupy his couch meant for his guests. But truly you were a King, Mr. Badshah.
Guys, let me tell you one thing very clearly. It’s all bullshit that people from Chennai are mean and they hate North Indians. It’s not the case my friend. It’s all about your perspective and they do speak Hindi and English as well. And learning a couple of Tamil words won’t affect your ego. I leant a couple of words, tried respecting their culture and met some nice people out there.
At last, just before our departure point we made ourselves comfortable outside Hotel Bell Central and wrapped the second innings there. We boarded our bus around 11. On the way back we spoke about Dua Saab’s circle of friends. Now, I literally know everything about everyone. It’s just that I haven’t met anyone in person except Kushagra – The Tau. We had those conversations where you laugh more than you talk. Dua Saab thanks for being there and making this trip so memorable.
I am always there and I’ll be the bro every bro wants! Cheers