When I say Chennai- if you think heat, conservative, heavy weight politicians, Rajnikanth, idlis, dosas, Tamil...in no particular order of course... you probabaly are right but you are also very very inadequate in your description.
You are surely not a Chennaite and not even a Madrasi( as most North Indians and West Indians call all those in the South).
Agreed, it is not bindaas Bombay. The only other city I can claim to know. But, it takes a few years of living here to know how rich and forward, how willing to experiment and yet how grounded this city is. A really nice city to live in.
Where Hindi may not be spoken but English, a more universal language, is definitely attempted
Where even the lower class enjoys a fairly decent lifestyle ( going by my small sample of maid, car driver, etc)
Where there are entertainment options to suit every interest ( including even mall shopping if you wish)
Where you can come home from work ( if you wish to) by 6pm and enjoy some family time daily
Where there is something for every taste and talent on earth...
If you compare the four main metros :
Chennai traffic is really easy. Yes the autos are bad but you can get places fast if you opt for the efficient and now attarctive AC buses or the local metro which is yet to have enough takers. And the roads are good by Indian standards.
You have a huge number of theatres and it is possible to get tickets to the movie of your choice 10 minutes before the show!!
I am an early bird, and life begins early in Chennai- by choice.
You have not one , but 2 really good beaches on offer
You can still think of large flats right in Chennai, no need to travel to satellite cities and so on.
As a visitor you can find hotel accommodation fairly easily.
If you like music, you will find you can enjoy, learn music of all genres- from western classical, chamber music, Kollywood gaanas, rock bands, Carnatic, Hindustani, instrumental, etc . Is it any wonder that both Illayaraja and Rahman hail from here?
It is the same with dance, art, films (and as an aside, apart from W Bengal, Tamil actresses have made it huge in Bollywood ) and books.
Ah! the Chennai book fair, the most innovative of Indian children's publishers- Tara, Tulika, Karadi, Chandamama earlier... you name it you have it. And wonderful book stores from Higginbothams to the pavement shops, from Odyssey to Landmark from Libraries such as Easwari to BookandBorrow and even Toyzdayout....
You have umpteen options in terms of eating out and let me state clearly that only a small fraction of Chennai is vegetarian, me included in that. Tamil non veg extends beyond Chettinad chicken and is considered delightful by many. Peek into any Military hotel or count the number of Thalapakattus on a street.
Cafes- Amethyst, Madras Terrace, Chamiers and many more with their unique character and of course the usual chains of Coffee Day and Barista and so on
Chennai is hospitable and warm and fills you up- like a cup of filter coffee- to use a cliche.
I shall recap in detail, subject wise, all the things that I love about Chennai.
Till then enjoy.....
This interview I conducted with an incredibly talented lady at Saffron Tree.
Every day is women's day- but for those who want to have a gala time in Chennai - there is a car rally, some random exhibitions, a soulful sounding concert by Bombay Jayashree and so many movies and even adventure sports to pick out from. So go ahead and use the excuse to celebrate being God's gift to mankind.