Chennai – From the windows of 29C
Mine was a well thought out routine. Even though there were buses on this route every five minutes, I preferred this bus that started at about 8.20 am. 29C is one of the busiest routes in Chennai, if not the single most busiest. On an average, it took me 70 minutes to get from Perambur to Adyar, but it’s not at all surprising if on a particularly bad day it takes you 2 hours to reach and on another day, it takes you just 50 minutes. Welcome to Chennai!
And so, a back breaking 2 hours and 20 minutes on a bus, daily. If you started running from my house to Pondicherry beach (that’s probably the whole length of my town), it’d definitely take much less time!
Chennai wakes up late. Even at 8.20, there won’t be many shops and businesses open. But the rush would be on, government employees in uniforms, software pros with plastic ids proclaiming their organisations and of course, not to forget the kids with their huge school bags. On an average, a 29C would have about 2 fights per trip, each way. Immensely more enjoyable than some of the paperbacks I read, they sometimes would culminate in awesome fistfights. Not to mention the ticket checkers, when they came in, a verbal duel is definitely on the cards. Well, I never complained, they make for great time pass on a long bus ride.
Each day brought with it a different story, which I watched from my not-so-comfy window seat. There would be the domestic brawl, the wife brandishing a broomstick and a drunken husband (in a lungi that threatened to fall any second) trying his best to fight back. This was in Otteri, I think. Then there was the absolutely-in-love pair that would be making their way, hand-in-hand to one of the many great hang outs at Nungambakkam. And of course, the quintessential Chennai death procession, complete with a cacophony of drums and dancing men. I saw at least 4 of these, and each one had the same underlying theme – flowers, music and the dancing.
But there is another fact here. Why do I think this is the best route in Chennai and why was I in my best spirits day in and out of a demanding internship? The answer is simple. Two great educational institutions lie on this route – The Stella Mary’s and the Dr.MGR Janaki College. I refrain from further elaboration by simply stating that both of these are women’s colleges and I’m 21 years old (Okay okay 22!!). No further comments.
Sport is critical as well. Every playground I saw was almost always full. Cricket and Basketball being the most played. And when Chennai won the IPL, the celebrations lasted a fortnight, complete with fireworks on the streets and sweet distributions on the bus. The bus drivers and conductors put up posters of Dhoni with the trophy on the sides of the bus. I loved the involvement. These people love their city.
Each great city has a character, an identity. This one has it as well. South India’s sprawling metro is a city to reckon with. The speed at which it moves might be overwhelming at first (It was for me), but once you get in the groove, you become a part of it. You become yet another cog in the wheel of the unstoppable juggernaut that is Chennai.