Thursday, May 31, 2007

T Nagar

I have lived in T Nagar all my life. I have lived in two homes. One was thata’s independent house on Bazlullah Road and for the last six years in appa’s third floor flat on Boag Road.

I think that the world is divided into two parts – T Nagar and Rest of T Nagar. I cannot imagine living anywhere else in the world.

It is the only place which can be called the heart of the city. The best part about T Nagar is not Panagal Park, Nalli 100 or Kasi Arcade. It is in the people who make up the place. T Nagar is for the hard-working class of the city. It is the place where traders of all shapes and sizes thrive. It is about old money people. It is also not overwhelming Brahminical, after all, being named after a person who was instrumental in starting the Dravidian Movement counts, doesn’t it?

The best part about T Nagar is that it does not come with all the problems that many other areas come with. An Asal Tamizh Penn won’t fit in most of the other areas.

Take the celebrated and over-hyped Mylapore for example. I COMPLETELY dislike all things Mylapore. I even hate the 5B bus. I find Mylapore to be insular and the people pompous. The Madisar Maamis walking along Kolatangarai are begging for attention. As a child at least, when amma insisted on dragging me to Kapaleeswarar Kovil my favorite task was to determine which of these women were Iyers and which Iyengaars. As I grew older, the game ceased to be fun and therefore the temple visits became fewer. But Mylaporeans think that they are the upholders of all that is traditional and Tamizh. What else can explain something as idiotic as heritage walks in the area? The congested and narrow roads are not overflowing with tradition as much as garbage, just pay a visit to Palathope (across the Mylai Station) and you will see what I mean. And what does one say about a place that names its most prominent landmark (Nageswar Rao Park) after someone whose claim to fame was pain balms that he manufactured. The biggest problem with Mylapore is the time wrap that it is caught in. Everything is deliberately exotic, including the Adai-Avial at Karpagambal Mess.

Other areas in the city, are not even in the contention. Adyar’s only claim to fame was the Grand Sweets, but now even that with multiple branches is losing its sheen. Besant Nagar is good if one is going off on a vacation and Valmiki Nagar has too many Bengalis and those North Indian chaps who have made Madras their homes. Anna Nagar is too modern and both the physical and the emotional distance from the spirit of Tamizhness exists. Velachery is infested with people who work for TCS and CTS, which is not terribly fun, unless one is holding shares of these companies. Vadaplani is allright, mostly because it has 12B, the main Saravana Bhavan and most critically is its proximity to T Nagar.

So, anyway that one looks at it, T Nagar is THE place to be in Madras. And nope I am not nitpicking or being unfairly critical of other places in the city. If a place is superior, it is. Non T Nagarvaasis however, do come up with some excpetions about the place.

1. It is not a musical and cultural enough place.
Well, we have Vani Mahal and Bharath Kalachar. We are also home to Ilayaraja and A R Rahman. What more to say?

2. We don’t have enough of a temple culture like in some other areas?
We have another city itself in the area, with the Tirumalai Tirupati Devasthana. Who can beat that?

3. We don’t have any modern format stores and malls?
Not that one needs them. But just in case, you need the free AC, we have the 6000 sq feet Crossword Bookstore at Venkatnarayana Road. Even the boring (but often visited) Gangotree at Boag Road.

4. It is easy to get lost in T Nagar.
That is entirely your problem. And if you ever get lost, just ask anybody on the road, Sivaji Veedu Enga? Who does not know our Nadippu Chakravarthy?

5. It is not as cosmopolitan as other areas?
Firstly, Madras itself is not cosmopolitan. Secondly, who wants to be cosmopolitan. Thirdly, what is cosmopolitan? Having North Indians? Having people who speak Hindi? In that case, T Nagar must be the most cosmopolitan part of the city, why else would the Hindi Prachar Sabha be located here huh?

However, the most important reason why T Nagar rocks, are the Kalyana Mandapams – they are all seeped in history and has been witness to large number of Gothram Migration. All Asal Tamizh people have, will and must only get married in T Nagar.

Which is why, it is very upsetting, when T Anna, wants to invest in a property that is located on GST Road. While I am happy that my country is earning some valuable foreign exchange, I am unhappy that T Anna is eroding his intrinsic Tamizhness.

Though in all fairness, I love Madras. I love all of Tamizhland. And one needs Mylapore to appreciate T Nagar. Just like one needs non Tamizh things to appreciate everything Tamizh.


ada-paavi!!!! said...

idhu over, u missed alwarpet/Teynampet, home to aandavar for along time and now rajini, MK, JJ, etc, of course its not for hardworking people, its for somberis. adhu dhaan area. aandavar area, enga area!!!

Anonymous said...

Darling, what is wrong with Anna Nagar? No fair.

- Toxi

Anonymous said...

Time Wrap illa, Time Warp.
Nee ellam oru blogger. Thala yezhuthu.

Shankar said...

Tamizh Penn

Love the way you write. Keep it coming.

Do not - please - do not be put off by morons who get their jollies from making puerile comments about spelling etc. These self-appointed composition teachers have usually been dropped on their head when they were kids - so they are in a perpetual time warp anyway.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

But but Besant Nagar ain't all bad, you know! I grew up there!


(Lovely post, however. It almost made me want to concede and agree with you. Almost.)

Anonymous said...

Shankar, I was just unhappy she has written off Adyar. Nee daan peurile jolly nu yengeyo poitai.

ammani said...

Aiyaiyo!! How dare you say anything against my belowed Mylapore?

(hilarious post, btw. the anti-Mylai tirade notwithstanding).

MLC said...

awesome post! yep! t.nagar rocks! totally!!

Anonymous said...

Looks like your fame has spread far and wide. ammani commenting already. super.


Primalsoup said...

Heh, how nicely you rustle up controversy?
The Mylapore Heritage Walk is rather nice actually. Though they charge you Rs 500 for that.
But T Nagar totally rocks only. Wonderfully written again.

Asal Tamil Penn said...

@Anonymous: The good part about reading blogs is that you can choose to write your Thala Yezhutu. So please exercise your right.

@Matra ellorum: Rhomba nandree. Neengal ellarum enna sonnalum, T Nagar vandu T Nagar daan.

anantha said...

The problem comes when people come to my street and ask "Yenppa, nadigar thilagam veedu edhu". And one has to grimace and politely inform them of the small error they made in confusing Sivaji theru with Chevaliar Sivaji Ganesan Salai.

And I hate the 5B bus too. Only direct bus from T.Nagar terminus to Mylapore and oor ellam suthindu pogum, when they could have taken the most direct route via Eldams Road-Luz corner or Venkatnarayana road - Park Sheraton - Mandaveli. Bah... it is a pain to stand for 45 mins to an hour for a journey that should not take more than 15 mins.

Anonymous said...

this is what you call tamil brahmin attitude!!

Vee Cee said...

so, t.nagar penn & mylapore guy war III dhaan-aa!!!!!

Oracle said...

It feels like the state after world cup, dont know whether to rejoice for Paki loss or mourn india's exist.

100% agree on your assessment of Mylapore but Triplicane doesnt even get a mention? Now that's sad.

rebel said...

12 freaking years at T Nagar! (To be more exact, it s West Mambalam) And I am sick of it!

Enga ponalum kootam, makkal, shopping! Porum porathuku ippo oru periya Saravana Stores to block all the traffic. Back in college, I used to sometimes just feel like abandoning my Scooty in the middle of the road and just walk back home.

But, still every time I see that place, the crowd and the Saravana Stores, I feel nostalgic. Terribly. I keep thinking of all the times I used to feel like abandoning my bike and walking, all the vetti window shopping, all the shopping for korati beads and jewellery, visits to TTD just to get tirupati laddoo as prasadam, T Nagar bus stand, Saravana Bhavan dosai, indha school craft work ku thevaiyana anaithu gundu mani karuga mani... Hmmm..

But, I would still give to Besant Nagar, I think it is a great place to be in. I love Elliots Beach, Cozy, Beach Sundal, Kuri Paakardhu at the beach and the beautiful sunset that you can see out there.

I said...


Guruprasad said...

Intha TNagar, Mylapore kadi thaanga mudiyalaida Parthasarathy Perumaalay! Bharathiar kuduthom, beach vachirukkom, Swami Vivekanadavai Ice House-la thanga vaichom, Rathna Cafe sambar pannom, Gokulam maathiri neraiya maady valarthom, ...enna panni enna proyojanam...intha hi-class TNagar / Mylapore snobbery kozhayadi sandai blogospherela paaka vendi irukkay....

Anonymous said...

Somebody ought nuke all your Bharadwaja Gothram Brahmins. Elitist pigs. Your anti-Iyengar tirade is laughable, to say the very least. Bloody Iyer bitch.

sreekrishnanv said...

hello WEST MAMBALAM !! where is it ?

Anonymous said...

narrow minded T thangai.. grow-up

Do not spread bad word about me..

Anyway you should write in Tamizh and not in English..

Change of sex worked good on you!

Neha said...

You seriously need to get a life...

Sudha Narayanan said...

Your description of Mylapore is extremely biased and filled with hatred. I competely disagree with your thought that Mylapore is over hyped and pompous. All that T.Nagar and West Mambalam has is Highest level of pollution in the city, extremely crowded roads and narrow filthy bylanes, on which you can hardly lay a foot on. Half of the city's population is there during most part of the year(if you consider that as a compiment for a having a house in such a "residential area"!)
I know you will not agree to all that said above, because you have lived and experienced it in that area! Similarly listen to some Facts from a resident of Mylapore from birth, and know the right picture!
1. "my favorite task was to determine which of these women were Iyers and which Iyengaars" shows your typical pathetic attitude. And good that you have stopped paying visits to the temples here. We dont need cheap discrimination.
2. We never think or claim that we are the upholders of culture. That issue is raised by people who feel so insecure about their own upholding and following of the culture. For us, it is a way of life, which we do not need to publicize. Every evening, just walk to any of the Sabhas in the area, and you will be duefully entertained with classical art forms.
3."The congested and narrow roads are not overflowing with tradition as much as garbage". Look how the stinky Subways and shitty streets talk about us! I really doubt if you ahev visited Mylapore of late.
4. And about the heritage walks, we atleast have something to show. In return you have only demolished houses built into stampede causing cheap stores!

Just stop crapping something about other places if you have an irritatingly biased opinion. A nicer thing to do is to just mention what is good in your area and just stop with that!

Sorry, I couldnt stop fuming seeing your article!

Asal Tamil Penn said...

Sudha meaning nectar and Neha meaning tenderness, sweeter words were never spoken.

Thank you for not being anonymous.

thee nagar said...

If anything is deliberately exotic it is this stubid post

Karthi Sekar said...

Very well written. T.Nagar was also home to a lot of old time Greats like MGR, Sivaji, Kamaraj Nambiyar, Kannadhasan etc. I am proud to be living 100 metres from Kannadhasan's house. And I take my morning walks in the same park that he did. Whenever he was not high;-). And how about all the amazing restaurants? I have home delivery menus of a 100 different places.

Anonymous said...

What about Kilpauk? It's the only place where you can be physically and mentally unwell and get treatment for both! (Mental hospital and Nursing homes/hospital on PH road) :P

Anonymous said...

WOW! Asimple blog on personal likes and dislikes and sudha spews venom.

I stumbled ont his blog when I googling for something and it was a nice read.

Your blog makes me feel nostalgic and want to return to Chennai

Ne said...

im doing a college assignment on T nagar and i need to know about its history - north usman road in particular!
thank you

viswajith.k.n said...

T.Nagar is the best...having been a resident of T.Nagar for arnd 11 yrs...maan i miss the place so much..

bharath said...

we are far behind when we talk about brahmnical society or the non brahminical one....tamil penn times are changing cultural mix had happened not only here but every where , thayir sadham and mutton vaaruval is the combination for this brahminical society...times are changing wether its t.nagar or annanagar or anywhere.


NowreSymonds said...

Arumai arumai, keep posting often!!!!

mayvee said...

hell with tngagar...
do u think tnagar is the best place in world....
there are other places too...

Anonymous said...

Iyengar Iyer devide is in the haplotype.Many good lking Iyengars and iyers had some british gene in them because of illicit relations with east india company firangis.this is from research.Tamil nadu is full of sun and people were brown or black originally.Many iyengars from Ramanuja period are converts from very low classes.The secularism of ramanuja is appreciated but the gab of T'nagar ponnu is very biased.
Mylapore is of high tradition of Tr\hiruvalluvar and Lord Shiva.T'Nagar is of very lower middle classes and the cinema chance seekers like Shivaji Ganesan etc.Further there was some immodesty in T nagar.The culture was free with some promiscuity.Even many bri\othels have been busted in T Nagar in earlier years.The cine actors were given to promiscuity and rightly so.
Don't denegrate Mylapore foolishly.
As Iyengar you should know your haplotype origin and Ramanuja connection before blogging.

Double S said...

Hello stumbled through ur blog while searching something of chennai. Felt quite bad about it.

First of all you clearly are not a person who has seen any 'world' to talk about it.

Secondly,You surely hate hindi and hindi people. That is quite sad, but its ur wish. Just to tell u that there are more south indians in north and we never criticise them.

Lastly, one who doesnt like cosmo life, modern life, better lifestyle and any such thing, ya t nagar is best place. I just wish all who think the same are at one place only.