Climate in Chennai, as the cliche goes, is ‘hot, hotter and hottest’. In my three years in this city, apart from the climate, I have had only three things to complain of.
Though what I say might be true for any other city as well, in Chennai these things have grown to the proportion of an epidemic. So without much beating around the bush, here goes the list:
Uncivilized, aggressive and foul-mouthed autorickshaw drivers
Yes, the first thing you find when you come out of the Chennai central or airport are the ubiquitous yellow nightmares. These, for want of a better word, thugs not only assume that they are doing you a favour by ferrying you, they make you feel it.
In the rare event of your not succumbing to a cardiac arrest witnessing their maneuvering skills, or lack of traffic knowledge thereof, you definitely would have a minor one when they pronounce the verdict on fare, which incidentally would be around the cost of their vehicle. You are in trouble if you dare point towards the show piece popularly known as meter to reason with them. There is no escape. They fleece you. Abuse you, and you end up burning a huge hole in your pocket.
Killer MTC Buses
These State-run killer on wheels contribute a huge chunk to road fatalities. No matter how dutifully you follow the rules of the road, these monsters would always find a way to run over you or at least brush against your vehicle to send you running from pillar to post for that elusive insurance claim, for which you have to grease the palms of several officials.
Again, the drivers are allegedly carefully selected and trained. The same carefully selected and trained drivers know as much about the working of a nuclear submarine as about the traffic rules, which we can safely conclude to be zilch. Side indicators are unheard of and overtaking from the wrong side is the ‘in thing’. They are beyond the reckoning of law and seldom care for lesser mortals on foot or smaller vehicles.
The Territorial Youth
Oh my god! These allegedly educated and progressive specimen from Chennai are best avoided. Uncivilized to the hilt, and so aggressive that they could give even the mighty Genghiz Khan a run for his dinar. Brash, impolite and arrogant.
The other day, a man in his twenties nearly ran me over in his car. When questioned, he in a typical Chennaite fashion pointed out that I was alive to argue with him, so I should thank my stars and ‘get lost’. When I did not ‘get lost’ he threatened to mow me down the next time I was seen in his ‘area’.
Apart from being unhelpful at the worst of times, these territorial animals have the knack of making such moments all the more unsavory. With scant regard for people from ‘other states’, these animals prowl on the streets of Chennai making the life of ‘outsiders’ a veritable hell. From buses to trains to roads, these people have their areas, and any encroachment is severely dealt with.
Now, these are the three things that I have the misfortune of dealing with everyday. However, despite the inconveniences this trio poses, Chennai is a place that shall remain close to my heart. It’s the place where I came in contact with some of the best Tamil people who, despite having generations of credentials to stake a claim to the territory, believe in ‘live and let live’. People who always have something nice to say and extend every help in times of need. People who find the same three problems giving bad name to the city and its ‘other people’.
It’s not like things are changing. The same auto drivers would abuse you, the MTC buses would threaten to mow down you every time you step out of the house and the youth would try to get the better of you. However, if you accept the hazards of being in Chennai, you might actually begin to like it.