Saturday, July 30, 2011

To Chennai with love

All things eventually come to an end. It's too bad though, that good things meet with its end sooner and bitter episodes last longer. My short stay at Swathi Apartment, Adayar is one of those beautiful moments tucked away in a corner of my memory. My three months in that heaven, unclean though it was, was laced with so many wonderful episodes and memories that will last eight lifetimes.

Physically I am several thousand miles and a couple of oceans away from that place but my heart is still in Chennai. Not a day goes by that I don't think of it. Some days, it's my first thought in the morning and the last before I crash. What I wouldn't give to get that life back again! But then again, there is nothing so valuable that I could trade for a piece of my past. Perhaps, that's what makes it precious. And priceless.

I miss the last night strolls every night to have steaming hot coffee, even though it tasted nothing like coffee. I miss bickering over tv remote and the fight that eventually breaks out. I miss Saturday morning cricket. I miss Friday night parties. Late night ice-cream. I miss those birthday celebrations and how we kicked the hell out of the birthday baby in the name of bumps. I miss watching movies at Jeyanthi theater and listening to Thala complaining that he'd never go to that theater again. I miss chatting over a drink at Fruit Shop until the shopkeeper would ask to leave. I miss how we cared for each other but never really made it explicit, thanks to our alpha-male attitude! I miss Thala's dumb attempt at wisecrack and how only he laughed at his own jokes. I miss pulling Mean-mullu's leg over his stinginess. I miss watching movies with Suna-panaa, who'd driving us nuts by reciting the dialogues before it came on screen and how he would irritate us by rewinding and doing it all over again. I miss mami's sense of humour.

Above all, I miss the children we were.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Notes from a big country

If you have not heard of Bill Bryson, skip the next line. :P

If you are wondering if this is a review of Billy Bryson's book, you are wrong. The shameless guy that I am, I copied the title of his famous book and used it as the title of what I think will be a series of posts on my life in Canada. Yeah, it's an utter disgrace to Billy and Billy will be turning in his bed - he's not dead yet to say grave :P - but as I said, I'm a shameless person. :)

I arrived in Toronto last Saturday night at about nine. I slept through the journey and woke up to find that the plane was about to start its descent to the airport. I looked out the window and it was bright and sunny. I thought the plane had arrived much earlier than the scheduled time. I might have asked the guy beside sitting beside me what the local time was, but he was annoyed with me and wouldn't talk. This being my first experience with chopstick, I had a pretty hard time eating the noodles I was served in the flight and so was the guy beside me, what with noodles flying all around me. My take away: Never travel in flights that serve Chinese cuisines.

Despite the street names that are easy to remember, a large part of my first two days in Toronto was spent getting lost. Yonge Street - which I'm told is the longest street in the world - is the reference line and there is subway line that runs through this street. The names of other places are suffixed either east or west with the name of the nearest subway station on Yonge Street. Pretty simple, isn't it? But not for me. Thanks to my horrible sense of direction, I would come out on the wrong side of the subway station and wander about for a while - two hours and twenty minutes if you want to be precise - when the hotel room was just about 100m south of the station.

I stopped stepping out alone after the first couple of days. Partly because I didn't want to get lost again but mostly because I needed someone to order for me in eateries as nearly every time I couldn't make out what I was being asked. I don't have a problem when people speak fast and without accent or when people speak with accent but not fast, but when combine the both- which is what happens in all the food joints here - the best I could do is grin like a stupid sheep. And when I'm in doubt I always nod my head vigorously and say yes. It saved my face a couple of times but not always. :P

Last night in Sub Way, I managed to order a veg sandwich which was stuffed with so many things I don't like but was there because I nodded my head when I was being asked. Then in the counter a good looking girl asked something which I heard as "Doyawanadrnk". Even in normal circumstances I would have said yes, but this was a pretty girl and I couldn't say no even though I didn't understand what she said. As usual, I replied in the positive, nodding my head all the time, to which she asked, "fountanorbodel". Again the same response from me. She said the same thing again. Again. And again. Realizing that this conversation was going nowhere and that I was holding up the queue, she said I should be fine with a fountain and held out a paper cup. That's when I realized I was ordering a drink. :oops: Imaging someone asking you whether you want a fountain or bottle and you replying "yeah, yeah", much like Rajini does in Padikathavan movie, nodding all the time and grinning sheepishly.

As I walked to the table, I thought about the whole episode and said to myself that that should be added to my list of embarrassing moments. A voice from my mind retorted, "You think that's embarrassing? If you call that embarrassing, what would you call the episode that happened on your first night here?" :P More on that later. :P So long! :)