I moved to Chennai for my summer internship on 5th April 2016. As I walked out of the chilled airport, a humid breeze hit my face. My friend, who was travelling with me and already has experienced living in Chennai, saw my expression and said with a groan,
“Welcome to Chennai!”
I was pretty excited about moving out of Delhi. I have lived in and loved Delhi for my entire life. Living in the Capital city comes with many perks that most Delhites take for granted. The biggest blessing of all being, Delhi Metro! Also, due to the influx of people from all over India, it is very rare that something surprises Delhites. I don’t mean that they accept everything with open arms but they have grown a thick skin which helps them ignore a lot of things. Sometimes even important things. Coming back to my story, I was pretty psyched to leave the city for two months till I got to know that I was moving to Chennai. I fell from cloud 9 to… well the ground! Most of my happiness regarding the move evaporated and whatever was left my friends did a good job of turning that to ashes with horror stories about Chennai! On the day of my arrival to Chennai, I was determined to give the city a fair chance. And so, with an uncertain smile I stepped out of the Chennai International Airport.
I’ve been here for a little over two weeks now. I am not an expert yet but lets bust some myths!
Myth 1: One cannot survive in Chennai without Tamil.
Reality: One can survive in Chennai without Tamil but that survival will be such a confused one that you would curse yourself daily for not having been born a Tamilian.
Myth 2: Tamilians are hostile towards outsiders.
Reality: Not all Tamilians are hostile towards outsiders. Some are sweet, helpful, English understanding and charge you 4 times the normal charges.. these some are the Auto drivers! If you are an outsider, do not take an auto ride in the city unless you are very keen to burn a hole in your pocket.
On the whole, Tamilians are helpful. Especially if you call the ‘anna’. Use this magic word at all times to gain help. Overall, people have used excess of sign language to help me out in crazy situations. But they do look at you like you are an animal caged in a zoo!
Myth 3: Tamil weather is unbearable in summers.
Reality: it is bad. Very bad. Coming from someone who has braved 24 summers in Delhi, it isn’t good here. Tamilians are born with some special genes that help them put up with this type of torture.
Myth 4: Madrasis dip their entire hands in the food they are eating.
Reality: ofcourse, not! This is a typical racist thing people have made up about south Indians. NO, they do not eat like this! Tamilians, on the contrary, are quite neat in all of their living.
Myth 5: Tamilians marry early.
Reality: Hell, yeah! By the time they are entering their 20s, most Tamilians are married off by their overly eager parents.
Myth 6: South Indian food is good.
Reality: I’m not a fan of south Indian food and from lack of options, I have been eating south Indian food daily. Uhmm.. verdict? It is good! Food in Chennai gets a thumbs up.
Myth 7: Amma is omnipresent.
Reality: omg! She is omnipresent! Wherever one goes, her posters adorn the walls! (This might be because of the upcoming elections, but everywhere!!!!)
Myth 8: Rajnikant is God for Tamilians
Reality: Ofcourse, he is. He hasn’t earned the ‘Thalaiva’ title just like that. You really need to watch what you say about him, Tamilians really take offence about their God. You might just start the next World War if you don’t toe the line on this one.
I have another 6 weeks in Chennai. I am hoping that… I survive! I will write a ‘how to survive Chennai’ post soon too! Till then, wish me luck! Signing off, as I rush for my ‘how to learn Tamil in 30 days’ class! 😂