The Concrete Desert! that we are making
The semi-sleeper bus was good enough to keep me sleepy with very few jerks but, not the neighbor seat guy. He literally stepped on my foot while catching his window seat.
Everyone wishes for a window seat in their journey no matter what’s the mode of transportation. But I don’t. It gives pain in my ears by the blow of wind and if it’s for 9 hours straight, puff… I might go deaf!
Now I really wanted to have a window seat or just a change of seat. The fat guy next to me started using his hands as his pillow with no shirts on is irresistibly bad. Come on, he just boarded at Erode and we haven’t even reached Salem. For another 6 1/2 hours with this stinking asshole will be hell. I’ll choose to go deaf instead of it.
My neighbor seats in the left are occupied by a Mother and a Daughter to which, I can’t put my head’s direction all the way to Chennai and that too won’t stop my nose from absorbing the Bandicoots pits!
I couldn’t sleep for some time. I was looking at the bus everywhere & after some time I realized, it was literally my second time in a Semi-Sleeper. The first being the IV (Industrial Visit) trip with my fellow mates while I was doing my college 3rd year. I started to float in the memories of that trip where we have headed Bangalore. It was a fun filled night to the core. While indulging in that, some memories of hard feelings flashed too.
We reached Bangalore by 6 in the morning. In the foggy morning sleepiness, I didn’t notice anything suspicious. But while visiting C-DAC which was at electronic city phase-2, we have to catch the Electronic-City flyover from our lodge. That’s when I realized something wrong about this city.
I was sitting in the second last seat of the south-east corner (obviously window seat). Out of nowhere, my face was hit by a hot air blow. Within seconds, I thought, how come a chill city like Bangalore is producing such a heat wave? Right after that, I saw the scene. That city was completely made of concrete. Everywhere! The worst part about that is, nowhere green can be spotted. I can literally sense a live hell in my eyes.
The view lasted longer than I thought. It’s not just that part. Everywhere I turn my head, the city is moving to that stage. Whatever I see later was a mix of good and bad sights but, this scene overtook the entire story of Bangalore in my mind.
This is one of the main reasons I chose to hit Chennai now. Something in me said, there’s hardly any life in Bangalore apart from making money. well, making money is the primary reason for my visit but, with this touch of thoughts and some nativity bond puts Chennai as the first priority for the extension of my business growth after making it a good one in Tirupur.
These flow of thoughts and that stinking Bandicoot kept me awake for some time. but both ended as soon as he folded his hands, I got my sleep back. Rest in Peace now (I said myself)
I don’t know whether it’s a magic or an instinct, but, while we are travelling to some new places, we automatically woke up while entering the phase of it (I hope, you can relate it, at most cases). I woke up at Thambaram! And looked at the name board in front of the bus. it also shows, Chennai 45Kms!
People telling Chengalpattu & Thambaram as Chennai strikes at that time. I wondered why people framing their area name with an already famed one and what’s wrong in saying it. It’s them, who should change the fame of their area. Not the name of it. (silly fellows!)
I get chances often to look out of the bus as the front mirror is just 4 seats in front of me. I don’t wanna turn left as it is the Ladies department and my right is not even considerable. within few mins the bus stopped once again and you know what? that Bandicoot just jumped out of the bus! Thank goodness! I said myself and continued to stare outside the window for the rest of the journey. His sweat smell can be felt in that seat.
The bus was nearing Kathipara flyover. earlier to that, I was seeing many greens at least here and there. but, after that, I got shocked is an understatement. this scene was experienced by me earlier on Electronic city Flyover in Bangalore. That one unforgettable scene I remember during my IV. The resemblance came to my mind.
The scene was not exactly the same. but it’s so clear that, Chennai is moving at a higher speed to that state. the combined feelings of regrets and fear came to my mind even before completely entering it. Till I get off from the bus, a gut feeling told me that, something is wrong here and I should do whatever I can do as a part of my gratitude to this city.
I wanted to reach Anna Nagar. That’s where Thenmugilan is staying. My friend from college who’s pursuing Masters in Engineering. One more typical south Indian from our class. Going to stay in his room for the next 10days.
The bus stopped at Koyambedu to reach Koyambedu Terminus. The first mistake I did after reaching Chennai is opting for an Auto Rickshaw without inquiring him anything. I just told him to go to Anna Nagar and climbed up!
The Auto Wala took the Cuvam route. He’s going through every turn he sees in the road. Later I came to know, that’s how auto wala’s of Chennai ride in the cities. I never left the view of the city at any moment of the ride. Everywhere, I hardly see green. Some buildings are multi-storeys even without an inch gap on both sides with other buildings. “how do even people breathe inside it?” I questioned myself regarding the architecture.
while crossing Cuvam, the situation was worse than a Tirupur’s Noyal. Inside my mind, I’ve made myself a clear thought that, I’m going to spend some time in a graveyard without doubt.
The auto wala starts to enter a colony of rich people. I was clear from looking at the houses and other architecture’s in that area. I wondered how this fellow got a rented house here and even if he has one, how’s he affording it?
Then comes a turn where the junkyard look begins to appear. Houses made of close structures and with gates even normal person have to shrink themselves to enter begins to appear in that turn. In the corner, mugil stood signaling the autowala through his instructions in the phone. I thought “This should be the longest route possible”
If mugil was not there and me being acting like a newbie, my first robber would be that autowala in my Chennai diary. Because, he asked me 250 ₹ for the ride while mugil was unloading everything. I just asked Mugil in a doubt and that saved me 130 ₹. Thinking about that incident, my granddad’s dialogue crossed my mind “You will be robbed to death if you choose to work for someone instead of working for yourself “.
It was a Friday. I have 2 days of time to look and roam around in the streets till then, exploring Chennai was my plan. But looking at the climatic condition, I decided to stay in the room. The hotness at 10 AM in Chennai is hotter than 2 PM in Tirupur. In the meantime, I went to terrace. there was a ground few hundred yards away from the house in the next street.
It is summer vacation time. I can spot a lot of cricket balls flying high and a group of people far away from the players as they could find no shades to sit under anywhere near to them. After seeing all these, I thought whether Chennai is growing or getting chafe?
While standing in the terrace, I saw some kids coming from the ground after their play. The opposite house of ours (2 houses away) had a large threshold, in which, they got seated under the Neem tree’s shade. some of them looked really thirsty. I somehow guessed their houses got located in this area by absorbing their body language.
Trying to make some friendly neighbor’s I asked them, ‘you need water?’
‘double thanks if it’s an icy one!’, one guy replied.
I smiled at them and went inside to pick 2 bottles from the fridge. I went downstairs and sat among them in the threshold.
I sense no disguise in the face of any for me sitting with them & interrupting their chats. 2 guys randomly asked me, ‘new to Chennai?’ & ‘Mugil bro’s friend?’
‘yep! came yesterday’, I replied surprised.
‘we can see that by giving out water to strangers unasked’, the guy who asked me “new?” replied.
that was the first conversation with them. And that day gave me 6 new friends in Chennai.
After I shook hands with everyone, ‘Tomorrow Mugil bro joins to play cricket with us. you join us’, Arjun (the kid, who is living as our 3rd house neighbor) said.
‘Sure, but I don’t even know to catch a ball properly’, I replied
‘No problem bro, we will lift the world cup for you’, Elango (another kid) teasingly replied me stating that it’s not such a huge match to consider.
Later came to know that Mugil & Arjun are so close for the past one year. I smiled about the fact that, how a ground is getting us friends in Chennai!
The game didn’t grab much of my attention, but the climate did. Unfortunately, I wore a half sleeve round neck & 3/4th. I have heard about Chennai being hotter than other cities. I thought it’s because of the location (close to the sea) & humidity of it. later realized, that these are one of the reasons.
Normally, hot air will blow in every place like these but, there will be natural barricades to cool it down. In Chennai, there’s not even 5% chance for that to happen.
The heat is irresistible for me. I run to tree shades in the corner of the ground and sat just after 3 overs. My thoughts were completely rewinding to my school days where these green trees were a part of our childhood. Playing with it and in it. I played a lot in the open ground but, never ran like this to a shade ever in my life. For a newbie like me in Chennai, playing in an open ground is really a punishment.
‘just till 11 bro, then we go home. come now’, Elango shouted at me.
‘no bro, I may fall sick’, I replied & stayed there thinking about the rest of Chennai for my next day visit to every store in the streets.
we came home by 11:20 AM and sat on the threshold of Arjun’s house. everyone is chatting but, my thoughts didn’t leave my experience in the ground. I looked at our room. it’s facing the same kind of climatic condition in that ground but in a closed environment.
This place right now I’ve landed is a monument to me. whatever I’m going to do in this city starts right here. So, to make it a moment to remember and a piece of gratitude, I bought a small Neem plant and planted in front of the house digging some inches of road property.
Planting trees are not just digging a hole, planting a seed and leaving on its own. The water flow to it should be arranged. luckily, our sink water from kitchen are hosed directly to the ditch in front. we made one branch out of it by cutting the actual pipe and added an extra one and directed it to the plant.
It’s Thursday. In my intention to approach several stores I left the room early with mugil (he’s in study holidays for the semester). The day starts to heat up so soon. both internally and externally! No stores are taking the order being the internal factor and the burning sun is the external factor. I checked the weather, it said 430 Celsius. I wished for some rain but, it shows clear blue sky for the complete day. Bad timing though!
All these days, the house owner who’s in the ground portion is not there as he went to his native. The next day morning while getting our bike out, I noticed the door of HO (House Owner) house got opened in the lower portion. In a hurry to catch new stores out there with whom we had appointments, I didn’t notice a change. the full day felt like I was missing something.
By the time we finish our lunch, it started raining. Chennai is getting its rain literally after 115 days. we didn’t expect that and forget to take precautionary measures (rain covers). we got wet. I thought, it’s better to hit the room instead of going wet to grab customers so, we went home. while opening the gate, I found what’s missing. It’s the plant I planted. Also, the PVC pipes (that we branched) are broken down to pieces.
I don’t know who’s that bad enough to hate plants. We spent half a day on doing it. but those went like nothing. The pain can only be felt by those who ever planted a tree. I stood there still and looked at the place. I wanted to kill those who did this but, where will I find them? I asked myself & kept my anger within.
Hearing the bike coming inside, house owner came out and asked mugil, ‘who planted that tree and made all those works?’
I thought he might know who destroyed it and rushed to him asking, ‘you know who took those off?’
‘so, it’s you I think from the eagerness you are showing’, HO asked me.
I looked confused for a second & asked him, ‘is that you?’, with a confused look
‘who do you think you are? is this your house? what do you think of yourself?’, questions came from his mouth even without a gap for me to understand what went wrong here.
‘uncle, I just did good for your house’, I tried to state my mind but, didn’t worked.
He kept scolding me in words of his own. In that, only one word got my attention that’s, “where will we park our bike for emergencies?” as if they are running an emergency service.
After he blasted me out for some time, I went up. I nearly broke down by those words. Mugil was still convincing him in the downstairs. vacating here was the only thought at that moment. while I started to pack all my things, Mugil came up and pulled off the bag from me & gave me a towel to dry myself.
The next day was announced strike all over TN for the hike in petrol price. I think, yesterday’s rain gave HO’s son cold & fever by hearing those coughs and moans downstairs while roaming in the veranda. we didn’t go down the whole day. We phoned and instructed everyone (area kids) to not visit us today too.
Sunday’s are mandatory days for cricket in Mugil’s diary if he stays in Chennai. But he didn’t go today and asked every other kid to leave him. This brought some doubt in Arjun and he visited us. He came to know everything from mugil and went down for a quarrel with the House owner as he being a relative to him too. Mugil tried to stop him but Arjun was fast to reach down. Mugil went behind him. Both saw the HO lying down near the door and his son trying to call “daddy, daddy” loud with his low voice.
Mugil shouted, ‘Mahesh, come down quick!’, to me.
While I get down, they were trying to wake him up by spilling water in his face. when I tried to lift him up, I sensed the heat his body is liberating. it’ll most probably be above 1030 for sure. Mugil once told that, HO’s wife is the only person who knows driving in their house. the absence of car and the absence of his daughter’s noise made me to realize that they didn’t came from their native yet.
Arjun and me went to get Arjun’s car. Mugil made the HO and his son get to the gate while we got the car. Myself and Arjun took them to the hospital in the car, while mugil joined us in the bike after locking the houses. It was 1040 for HO with low BP and his son has got 1020.
They got sedated & asked to stay in the hospital for some more time to get checked with the results. It’s been 3 hours. After checking the blood reports and all the procedures, we headed home. Unfortunately, mugil left the keys of the HO’s house in the hospital. He went back to get the keys.
Instead of spending their time in the hot parking area, I took HO’s son and asked him to follow me. I headed straight to the tree shade on Arjun’s threshold and signaled him to get 2 chairs. Arjun gave the chairs & water and went inside.
It took 40 mins for Mugil to reach back. On all those times, no words spoken. after mugil’s return, we dropped both the patients in the sofa and headed to get some food and fresh juice for them.
We got 5 idly’s for the HO and 3 for his kid with 3 tumblers of orange juice. we came back & noticed no one in the house. we searched the whole house and came out. I saw them sitting in the Arjun’s house neem tree shade. I signaled mugil out & went near them.
‘why are you sitting here?’, mugil asked curiously.
‘it’s hot inside. this feels a bit good here. that’s why’, HO told us in his notorious voice
“you wouldn’t have to sit here if those are in front of your house”, I didn’t say that. but really wanted to.
we left them and went upstairs to our house. by the time around 7, mugil & me went down to give them Chapati’s we made and to check on them. fever seems to get reduced on both of them.
while going back, Arjun came to us telling, ‘there’s a store in Vandalur owned by my uncle, I told him about you and he asked you to visit him tomorrow if possible’
‘sure dude! will check on him’.
Appointment is fixed. while getting away I saw 2 men standing in our parking. they barely look like relatives to the HO yet we went silent instead of making it in an issue. we headed straight to Vandalur and met with Arjun’s uncle.
He doesn’t seem to be a nice and calm person instead he’s the rugged and orthodox person I’ve met in Chennai.
I was almost over with my sample demo’s & descriptions. while concluding, a guy (who works on his store) came and gave him a signal. He immediately stood & got ready to leave. I was not really expecting this. when I asked him, ‘what about the order sir?’, he just said, ‘will call you soon, now have to catch some more important work, sorry’ and left the room
I looked pathetic at myself and smiled. mugil tapped my shoulder and said, ‘you tried good, cheers! we’ll grab orders soon’
we know we lost that order because, Arjun clearly told us about his type being accepting right at the moment if he likes and neglect straight away if he doesn’t. My plan was just 10 days in Chennai. until now, no orders placed. tonight, I have to leave Chennai to catch all the works in Tirupur. with a dull face we headed back.
I was not really in a mood to get cheered on going back. this trip was a complete failure. my return ticket is @10PM tonight. It’s just 2:30 in the noon. I don’t wanna spend my time in the room just by lying down. not really in a mood to look for some stores too. so, went straight to the beach and came to the house by 7:30 in the evening.
I was sleeping by leaning to mugil’s back. He just shook me up after reaching the house. in my sleepiness I hit directly for the stairs. even before stepping into one, he honked me by staying in front of the gate.
when I looked back, he didn’t say a word except a smile. I look puzzled and went there, where I was surprised to see 2 plants planted on the both sides of the gate with metal fences around and with the same water flow mechanism for both the plants.
I didn’t say a word. while standing there looking at it, my phone buzzed. it was Arjun’s uncle. I was expecting a “sorry” for leaving us like that and received the same without fail. but, he added, ‘There was a financial work for me to catch with a friend and just now solved. I really liked your sample’s and your works. I spoke with my friend too. on my words he too wants to place an order. shall we discuss the rest in the mail?’
I don’t know whether it’s the dream continuing or it’s a real moment. with a touch of sleepiness and surprise I just said, ‘sure sir, no problem’ and stayed quiet
‘it’s cool then, pleasure doing business with you’, he replied and hung the call.
I was smiling at my phone. there’s some kind of happiness and relief in an inexpressible way. in my mind I just thought about Arjun and mugil’s HO for a second and told them