Chaotically yours, Chennai Sangamam

Being a true Chennaite at heart, I have always jumped to defend my city from scathing criticism by non-chennaites. The city is often ridiculed for its poor sense of etiquettes and atrocious public behaviour, by non-Madrasis (Oh, by the way we are still Madrasis, even 14 years after the city was rechristened Chennai). But, today evening, after visiting Chennai Sangamam, a culture fest apparently started by poetess-turned politician Kanimozhi, I have begun to wonder if all that is said about Chennai and Chennaites is true.

Enter the crowded Natesan Park, T Nagar, one of the many venues chosen for the fair or cultural confluence, it is utter chaos. A narrow gate serves as both entry and exit points, making people shove each other in a bid to make their way through. And, you just hope there is no stampede, while two helpless policemen try to control the crowd. The uncooperative crowd adds to the woes, as they push each other mindlessly to get to the nearby food stalls. At the food stalls, set up by some big names like GRT, Enta Keralam and Copper Chimney there is a mad rush, with everyone  trying to fill their plates.

The last straw was, however, the missing trash bins, and much to one’s disgust you could see used paper plates piled on top of each other. An unwary visitor could even trip on them and go hurtling down into the crowded atrium that is yet another example of disorder and pandemonium. Unguided visitors run amok as they try to get the closest glimpse of the cultural programme happening at the far end of the park.

Bearing in mind it is Pongal, the already narrow and full till its brim Venkat Narayana road is choking under the huge turnout. The nearby, ever-crowded TTD (Tirumalai Tirupathi Devasthanam) only makes matter worse for all those who take the route.

Chennai’s vibrant culture has so much to offer, but I am afraid all that will go unnoticed because of the presentation. Couldn’t the organisers rope in a proficient event management company to plan the event? There is a huge list of events lined up for the next two days, as the fest winds up on Saturday. But, with the given chaos it has turned out to be, there is little scope for it to become one of the much-awaited fests in the country (Yes, the organisers hope to make it one and use it as a window for marketing the city). It is a pity that the show organised by big names like Tamil Maiyam and Department of Tourism and Culture has turned out to be a no-show.

I only implore they don’t make Chennai a laughing-stock. It is time they take a leaf out of the book of Dilli Haat, Haveli or Chokhi Dhani to see how you present culture.

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3 Responses to “Chaotically yours, Chennai Sangamam”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    My first impressions of chennai were quite beautiful…i remember watching from the flight in an early morning the vast sea which i saw as my first glimpse of the city. I thought this was the third best overhead visual in my life after watching jaipur at night with probably amsterdam at day coming second. When i stepped inside the city, a beautiful breeze welcomed me with a picturesque mount in front. I was spellbound by the vision, and all those hostile comments about chennai and chennaites went into the background.

    After i picked up a cab for the city to reach West Mambalam, i started sweating heavily and was wondering what was happening. Then lightning struck me telling me that i was in a humid climate and boy that was humid. As soon as cab stopped, i was gaping for breath.

    Being a northie myself, I feel people are lot more courteous than any other place but finally when it came to reaching my destination i came to know why chennai was revered in North. I had all the curses for the taxi driver who irritated me with his tamil, asking questions at every turn and claiming to not know hindi and finally asking me for tip. I told the bugger to fly away as i was at my wit’s ends but was really surprised when he asked me the same thing in hindi and I realised that his ‘I don’t know hindi, better talk to me in tamil’ stares aimed at me were farce. It was like saying to somebody, “Welcome to Chennai”.

    After spending four days in the city, i just had one feeling, Oh god..just take me out this time, promise I won’t return. Don’t know how long i would keep my committment but life makes you do strange things even so when you don’t want to do them, so hope i never return to Chennai again, I am seriously happy with dilli Haat nd chokhi dhani.

    • I am a South Indian but have lived in the north, too. I haven’t ever felt out of place in Delhi…Northies do feel out of place here, and the divide is much more than then what it seems.
      I guess it will always remain so because they belong to two ends of the spectrum… the debate about whether north or south is better is futile and never-ending 🙂
      I have been taken for a ride by delhi autowallahs, too, but I don deny that Chennai autodrivers are rogues..con is on always in India and it is even more when they realise that you are new to the city…

      • Anonymous Says:

        Spot on…point is, they raise hype and hoopla when some Indians are ill-treated in Australia…But India in itself is racist on all counts..I would never say which is better, because i have been living in south India for 4 years now besides being a northie, but i have embraced the culture out here and i at times have resisted returning back because i feel better here. But still we in entire India have to turn the tide. We talk nicely to foreigners but deride our own countrymen. Hope sense prevails, and yaa i am not a big fan of chetan bhagat, but when i read Two States, i felt he nailed it 🙂

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