Tuesday, 2 September 2008

You know you're in 'Yourlarich' when...

I have been in Chennai for 2 years now, with experience living in this city as a PIO and foreigner. Chennai means so many things to so many people. So, many feel a strong sentimental attachment to the city while others abhor it; I know of a Nepalese man who thinks Chennai is heaven because there is no "war" here, unlike his home in Nepal. It is his refuge and he has completely settled in, even attempting to learn the Tamizh language! In contrast, I know of a middle-class traditional dancer from Pune who has had so many safety, lifestyle and health issues since she arrived in Chennai. Shaken up completely, she swears to go home once her work is done in Chennai.

Having so many mixed reviews, I decided to just talk about my district, rather than my city, so that my views are backed up with my own personal experience and are completely true to life. It is a conservative, curious district, with a relentless price boom that is NOT parallelled with improvements in products or serivces, leaving informed customers like me, quite distressed. Some argue this is the case in all districts of Chennai, not just mine. However, I dont live in all districts, just this one. So of this one I shall speak!

On the positive side, I can tell you that my district's charm is that it is home to so much religious and musical history, which my reason for being here. Nonetheless, I shall not name my little district in case my list gets me brickbats from fans and fanatics who are extremely sentimental about this place, and can't swallow anyone else's tongue-in-cheek take on it. So, let's call my district Yourlarich. So, "You know you're in Yourlarich when..."

  1. Eating medu idli for breakfast, curd idli for lunch and sambar idli for dinner constitute three very different menus for the locals but is pretty much the same dish for you.
  2. Flat rentals can go through a 100% hike in 24 hours!
  3. An Indian female laughs out loud in public, she's chided for attracting attention, but if an Indian male does, he's adoringly looked at, for being genuine. "Foreign" women (i.e. caucasian, oriental, etc) are excused if they laugh out loud, because they "don't know better", apparently! But if you even look remotely Indian, you've simply got no excuse!
  4. The art of stocking supermarket shelves is a new concept - i.e. if something moves fast (e.g. Coffeemate) it will not be restocked...in fact, it'll be removed altogether because it's moving too fast compared to the locally made milk powder that tastes like flour, and isn't moving at all.
  5. Dressing well and carrying yourself confidently, gets you a significantly higher auto-rickshaw rate than if you wore a frumpy outfit, didn't wash your hair for a week, and looked like you've never had it worse! The logic behind this is that if you look and feel this great, it must be because you have an obscene amount of money to spare on the auto ride!
  6. You are more likely to get run over by a speeding vehicle if you cautiously looked right, left and right again before crossing, instead of darting across the road. This is because the fact that the pedestrian is being cautious, somehow translates to the approaching driver that he/she is absolved of the pedestrian's safety and can drive into any solid object obstructing his/her path with a clear conscience.
  7. The idea of variety in food is North Indian, South Indian and Indian-Chinese as opposed to what Malaysians are pampered with: Malaysian Malay, Indonesian Malay, North Indian, South Indian, Malaysian Chinese, Chinese-Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Danish, Irish, French, American, Tex-Mex, Korean, Japanese ....and the list goes on and on and on! So if someone in Yourlarich asks you what you want for dinner after you've been there for 2 years, you won't have to worry if you have issues making decisions - you still have the same 3 options you had when you first arrived.
  8. As a female, wearing jeans and a kurti-top (mid-length blouse), gets people looking disaprovingly at you and asking, "So why aren't you wearing a dupatta (shawl) with that?"
  9. When the newspaper classifieds claim a double bed room flat is available at a reasonable price, it will be wise to call and enquire first, if the 2nd room is in the same building as the first and if the bathroom has walls that go all the way up. (Serious!)
  10. You note that a rice cooker in March that went for its regular price, is sold on "cheap sale" for Deepavali in October, priced 30% more!
  11. Jewellery is waaaaay cheaper in your home country than in Yourlarich, but almost every local woman who sees your crappy, cheap, 3-for-10-ringgit stuff wants it anyway!
  12. The idea of exercise is 2 rounds around the local park in a saree and sandals at a snail's pace, while chatting about the best poori curry recipe, followed by sitting for 1.5 hours on the park bench, discussing the neighbour's second daughter-in-law. And after this, wash down with one badam kheer at home!

The idea for list above is inspired by my cousin, whose blog presented a similar list on Melbourne. Last but not least, there's more to the list above, but I need hurry now and buy that rice cooker before the October sale.


sansmerci said...

well said bout the auto rickshaw n stuff.. but forgive me its ur ignorance about food and the variety of cuisines available in the city.. not to able nething else.. n about wearina dupatta n walkin on the park in sari.. i guess the crowd ur with is lower middle class middle-aged aunties.. cos i ve been living here for 25 yrs .. rarely worn a salwar or seen any teenger or twenties pal wear a sari to exercise..

its just wat u choose to c n believe.. i say if u don like a place.. y do u stay?

Shobha Janardanan said...

Thanks for dropping by and for sharing your views, Sansmerci.

I'm sure you have your reasons for disagreeing. However, they are not clear.

IF you read the post again, all your questions and doubts expressed in your comments are answered.

Finally, I reckon you're a well-off girl and thus are less likely to be aware of the larger community and its issues; comparing dollar-for-dollar, in many other developing countries, one is able to live an above average life compared to having to spend the same amount in Chennai just to stay afloat. That is the lifestyle discrepancy that many foreigners and struggling locals are facing. Many propose that living in India (value-for-money wise), is comparable to living in Hong Kong! I am testimony to that on a daily basis.

Perhaps if you'll better understand if you visit another developing country and realise how cheap middle eastern food is, compared to the exorbitant prices you pay at Cedars, for instance. In Singapore, Malaysia etc for instance, a middle class family can eat out almost every day, switching effortlessly between various cuisines. And it doesn't cost you a ride in an auto-from-hell to get to the restaurant, having to pray for your life all the way and hoping the rate won't be trebled when the auto driver realises you're heading to a top-class restaurant! (Ah, another bullet point for my list)

HH said...

hahaha..too funny!!! i have no idea how u go thru all that on a daily basis, seriously.... the things we do for love eh? in this case, your love for carnatic music.

btw, the subtle mention at the end did not go unnoticed! i'm happy to inspire.. ;)

Anish said...

Girl, you sure can write! Couldn't stop laughing for quite a bit... I do understand that it is not a litany of woes, rather a reflection from a person who is, but still isn't... if that makes any sense. I would say the same for me. Only I have been in 'yourlarich' for 4 years, and the funniest thing is that it tends to grow on you... now methinks, it's either some deep-seated survival instinct that makes you adapt or there is a decent side to 'yourlarich' which builds some positive reinforcements... Still not sure, which one tho.. lol