With just 29 days to go for the biggest festival in India, here’s a commentary on Deepavali shopping as lived by me, a proud citizen of Chennai.
So, what do you remember when you think of Deepavali? Not Diwali. Deepavali. Pattas, Tappas, Lakshmi Vedi, Laddu, Boiler, Mullu Murukku, Seyakkai, Marundhu, New Jeans, Rajini’s pudhu padam, Mathaappu a.k.a Susuravathi, Rockets, Patti Mandram, Pottu Cape. Which one comes first?
I have amazing memoirs of all that is listed above. I love to keep talking about Deepavali as I enjoyed it during my childhood. Now, It’s just the crowd that comes to mind. If you are living in Chennai, you would badly appreciate what I say. Yep, the race for the shopping mela has already started. It’s the immobility that you face on the streets of T.Nagar and Purasawalkam that frustrates me as a Chennaite. Well, we all know the rising urbanization of the Metros, especially in Mumbai and Chennai are worrying everyone. But as the bazaar gets on the all-time high during Deepavali, its tension time for the ‘city’zens.
If you call me a pessimist, showcasing only the alternate side of the festival, hold on. Hold on, dudes. Either you are living outside the city/country now and just yapping/dreaming about the city of Chennai as you lived ‘those days’ or you have never seen the heart of Chennai. Those days are those days only. Let’s not be on a dope. Let’s get it straight. It’s crowded man. Over-Crowded. And if I were take you through a sunday round-up of diwali-ready T.Nagar, this is what it might look like. Pile on; let’s drive around with my modest Splendor.
That new building opp to commercial-heart-of-chennai near panagal park is RMKV Silks. And you know that these guys have created the longest running silk saree. A Guinness record to boast off. So we see a huge crowd of only ladies flocking the shop. Oh!! this one just before it. That’s Lalitha jewelry. Yep, they have this new ganpathy temple outside their shop, built of gold. Or is it gold polish? Anyway let’s come around the panagal park to get to Pothys.
The traffic gets higher and higher as we drive around Panagal park. Still some people inside the park sleeping on the benches and reading Junior Vikatan. As we get to the side of Pondy Bazaar, the traffic doubles and literally an auto rickshaw runs over. The auto driver shouting, ‘Podang …thaa’. Say ‘Thanks you, Mams’. Keep driving.
Turn your head to left now. That’s Nalli Silks. The old one. The new one as we know is opposite to Pothys. Nalli seems to be crowded throughout the year. Only in Marghazhi there aren’t any marriages. But you have the carnatic music season. And all those who fly across from Boston and LA and sing in Music Academies, hang around Nalli to get the best designed Pallu for their Pattu Pudavai.
As we move forward, onto the left, comes Prince Jewllery. You might be reminded of that woody voice [Prince Jewellery, Panagal Park, Chennai] in the Prince Jewellery Ad shown only big screen, dark theatres of Chennai. Kumaran Stores is here. Hey!! Stop Stop. We have reached the junction leading to Duraiswamy subway. Keep a huge rock on the brake and relax. This is the densely populated area in the world. So go have a coffee and be back. Get me one, too.
And as we reach the entrance of Pothys, try hard to locate the entrance. All we could see is only human heads. No entrance found. Parking Full. Obviously. The security man politely asks us to move forward and find a comfortable parking space. Before which a Tata Safari honks behind like nobody’s business. We turn back and utter a four letter super-good word as we are highly allergic to unwanted honks. He cares not to hear and utters the same word in Tamil. ‘Thank you, Mams’ again. Move forward. As we reach the next street corner, it’s already 24 minutes since we reached the Panagal Park junction. We are forced to take the next left after the Aanju Maadi Kumaran, where there is a heap of vehicles one above the other placed haphazardly. Is that a parking? A man pulls those crookedly parked vehicles and loads it onto a truck. Towing going on.
As we move forward, a traffic inspector who is shouting at the crowd to move fast, comes near us. ‘Sir, Ponga sir. Fastaa Ponga’, he says. We ask him where if there is a parking lot elsewhere. He replies in an agitated voice “No Parking. No Parking throughout Usman road. Enn sir neenga vandiya eduthutu vareenga. Use public transport“. As we move forward, we are forced to think, a reasonably good cop who found to time to answer logically. The traffic gets thicker as we reach the end of the road. Turn left and you reach the famous Venkatnarayana road. Keep moving for few yards. Now, we are back here at the same spot. Is this a Deja Vu? Not exactly. We were here on the same road just opposite to Lalitha Jewellery, some 20 minutes back. So for the last 20 minutes, I was taking you on a world tour around T.Nagar. Here we are back at the same spot. Unlike last time, we turn right on the road. We decide to park finally at RMKV silks. Manage to make some space and sandwich the pity Splendor between them. The security man there asks, ‘This is a special parking for RMKV silks’. Are you going here’. We hate to lie. Tell him ” We are going here, also”. Also. He smiles back friendly and replies, ‘Poittu Vaanga sir’.
Take a breather. So we finally park the bike at one end of Usman road and start walking onto the other side. Oops !! this 12g Pallavan bus nearly ran over us while we cross the road along with hundreds of enthusiastic shoppers. Give a bloody finger to the driver. The driver gives a damn and zooms past us. After 5 minutes to high pressured blood being pumped into the heart, we manage to come back to the Pothys entrance. Wow !! . So how do we get in. As we think, it starts to drizzle. Wow again!!.
Shopping Continues….Until then you might want to check out my previous Diwali rant.