“Carpe Diem!” is the first phrase I can think of to sum up my experience in Chennai. Chennai has taught me quite a few things during my short stay here, the first one being self-sufficient and independent. I never realized until now that staying at home makes people complete brats – we take so many things for granted (support of family members being the very first one on the list), and realize the value of the things only when we are subjected to constraints. One such luxury was the washing machine (Never in my life did I think I would be thankful for this gem of a life-saver!). Another luxury that I have always enjoyed, but whose worth I realized once I shifted to Chennai is Ghar-ka-khana (home-cooked food). Trying different restaurants and eating out has been fun and an adventure in itself, but ultimately I feel a sense of peace only after having the curd-rice that Mom makes at home. Speaking of home, one of the other luxuries that I miss is coming home to a perfectly made bed.
I have learnt to value kindness and simplicity. People were really hospitable – although not very chatty, they went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable. The flatmates at the PG were pretty approachable and there for me when I needed their help. In general, people followed a pretty simple lifestyle. That being said, they also did know how to have fun.
Speaking of the PG, I have come to enjoy the lamest of moments – getting stranded outside the flat in the unbearable Chennai heat due to random power-cuts at night (it’s happened a couple of times) and making plans for the weekend to never really see it through, the unusually pleasant weather and the occasional rainfall, and finally celebrating on getting an Ola cab or a rickshaw during the peak hours! In addition to that, I particularly cherish the spontaneous plans we made – like deciding to visit Marina Beach on a whim at 10pm, or choosing to eat at a restaurant purely based on its ratings on Zomato. The one moment that I have really thoroughly savoured is trying to zero down on who the mysterious kleptomaniac at the PG was – she would steal the stuff from the fridge (and speaking of stealing, I also loved seeing my roomie laugh on being labelled as a curd-thief by another flatmate…I mean, of all the things she could be accused of doing, she was accused of stealing a packet of curd. I don’t think it could get any lamer than that – she even dreamt about it once)!
Chennai has made me a little bit more spontaneous – the best one yet was renting a car and taking a road trip to Mahabalipuram with my cousin bro. Going for movies in the spur of the moment with my flatmates (Kabali, Happy Bhaag Jayegi, Mohenjo Daro, Rustom, Mechanic: Resurrection, and Don’t Breathe), going for impromptu dinners and for desserts at 10.30pm and visiting the Marina Beach on a whim have been some of the memories that I really cherish. Of all the memories, the one I enjoyed the most was planning a dinner with my cousin out of the blue on a boring Saturday evening, going to Murugan Idli Shop at Besant Nagar Beach, and sitting in front of the waves treating ourselves to a very delicious ice cream from the Ibaco outlet nearby.
Another gift that I actually learnt to value was my own company. Visiting places alone and enjoying a few moments of solitude is something that makes me happy sometimes. Kannada Film Festival, a couple of movies and impromptu walks to Sandy’s for the “Tiny” craving. I relished planning trips to Bengaluru and enjoying the long weekend there, attending my cousin Nandan’s wedding in my hometown after a 15-hourlong bus journey (and forgetting my suitcase while boarding the return bus!).
Like Mumbai, Chennai has taught me to enjoy the little pleasures of life – be it just a long walk back to my PG or the morning cuppa joe, being pranked by friends, laughing long and hard for a lame joke, or bringing a smile to someone’s face. That being said, I also learnt to laugh at myself and to not take anything to heart. Life is better when we cherish these small simple moments – the more we complicate it, the lesser we seem to enjoy. Most importantly, I have learnt that no matter what happens, life goes on.
My experience at Chennai does hold a special spot in my heart– apart from getting some amazing industry exposure and learning from the best, it’s also the biggest collection of first-times for me. In essence, it has been like a graduation ceremony that lasted 20 weeks. It taught me to take risks one step at a time, and go beyond my comfort zone pushing myself just a little bit more. I guess there is a Tamil phrase that aptly summarises my Chennai journey – “Kalavum Katru Mara” – which I interpret as “Learn everything….but whatever you choose, choose wisely.” There is always something to be learnt…something more to be experienced…some more people to meet…and finally, some more memories to be painted on the canvas of our life. All we need is to go out there and seize every opportunity we get.