Chennai, a city of Intriguing Contrasts: Excerpts from my novel ‘Entwined Lives’


Back in Chennai for a visit…having moved out last August, after calling the city home since 2006…It still seems like home!
Just had my first round of medu vadai, idli and filter coffee – delivered from Woodlands in T.Nagar.😊

Sharing few excerpts from chapter 4 of my novel ‘Entwined Lives’…

What Aparna loved about the Chennai she returned to in 2006, was it allowed you to be the way you wished to be, to live and to let live. It opposed drastic change for itself, but the city did not restrict modernity and change, on those who preferred it.

The changes that the city was undergoing at breakneck speed, was thus the perfect time for Aparna’s entry into the world of journalism. Already there were plans on, for a number of luxury hotel chains to open up their Chennai gates. A host of international retailers were setting shop adding to the multitude of traditional sari and jewellery stores abundant in Alwarpet and T Nagar – the retail hub of the city. The city was conducive to industry and trade and the authorities proactive to easing bottlenecks in the setup process. In time there would be a variety of international cuisine restaurants like Japanese, Korean, Russian, amongst a number of pan-Indian. Chennai was thus truly a city of intriguing contrasts.

Aparna by now, enjoying herself at her new job, considered she was lucky to be hired even at an entry-level writer’s position, recording this change through her writing. As a features writer, she would never be short of stories to tell, she was sure.

What Aparna had missed most when away in Mumbai, was the temples of Chennai. They are an embodiment of the culture, customs and spirituality of the Hindu faith and are known for their rich mythology and traditions. Thousands of devotees come here to catch a glimpse of these deities. While the temple architecture and overall upkeep is awe inspiring. Aparna was always infused with immense mental strength from visiting the Kapaleeshwar temple at Mylapore and the Balaji temple on Venkatnarayana road, T-Nagar, more than from visiting any temple elsewhere in the country. It was her visits to these two temples that saw her through her worst times since her return to Chennai, thus inspired so much devotion and faith. She had visited both these temples on the eve of her final interview at the newspaper. The confidence she imbibed, sitting meditatively in front of the deities got her the job she believed.

More excerpts here:

On the inspiration for writing ‘Entwined Lives’…





Adding my facebook post on 11th June 2019 after visiting the Express Avenue mall yesterday…on a visit to Chennai…as it adds up to the previous post:

On changing your hometown: When you have lived in a place for over thirteen years, you tend to have regular places – even particular service providers that you simply need in your life, to give it that element of stability – like your favourite hairstylist or cosmetics brand shop. This location might also house the multiplex where you watch every other film; and later pick up those condiments and spices you’re used to, and then buy other home stuff that give your life an emotional security – to cement relationships and your vocation – that truly define your life now.

For me, the Express Avenue mall in Chennai had become such an integral part of my life, where I’ve spent so much time with family, friends, even myself – to just get away from my desk or the world.

But it goes further back than that…when I first came to Chennai in March 2006, the 12th to be precise, Bishwanath took me the very next day to meet his boss and colleagues at the Indian Express – which owned these premises then and had their huge office campus here till a couple of years more when when they shifted to Ambattur. Only a couple of years after that TOI set up base in Chennai and he joined them in the first batch.

Thus a place, like the Express Avenue mall that everyone in Chennai knows of, even if not aware of it’s history – often tends to define so much that becomes an integral part of what goes into your work as a writer.
Now you might like to add this awareness to my narratives in “Entwined Lives”😊


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