How do you say goodbye to a city?

I’ve honestly re-written this post more times than I could remember. Even though I’ve known that I’d be leaving Chennai pretty soon for about a month and a half now, it really hasn’t struck me until now how badly I am going to miss this place. I thought I was gonna be fine, I mean this isn’t the first time I’ve had to say goodbye to a city but again, I haven’t lived there as long as I did here. But is that all? Is time what makes the difference?

If I open the imaginary photobook that I keep in my head and look at some of the photographs from the past three years, they comprise of some of the best memories of my whole life. And why shouldn’t they be? Chennai was the first city were I’ve witnessed freedom for the first time. It was the city where I’ve discovered myself. It was where I started to get comfortable under my own skin. Where I finally let go of everything that bound me and started to live life that way I liked it. For this alone, Chennai will always have a special place in my memory.

It’s midnight as I’m writing this post, and I’m on the terrace with my laptop enjoying the almost full moon and the cool night’s breeze but I also know that once I go back to my room, I’m gonna have to battle with humidity and mosquitoes. This dichotomy of Chennai is what I find the most alluring.  The city can be a hassle; in fact I’ll say that for someone who’s not acclimated to this part of the country, it can actually be pretty brutal. No two ways about that. But I chose to not focus on all that was not working for me. Instead, I swiveled my chair to face the good the city had to offer. Like, you know, the sea coast! I actually did not realize how big of a beachbum I was until I started to live in Chennai. The sea, for me, was always the respite I needed. The sea coast is ever changing but it is also the one constant that makes Chennai what it is. And it is probably one of the things that I’m gonna miss the most when I leave this city. Just having that option to visit the beach whenever I fancy. I feel like there’s this umbilical cord between me and the sea that’s being chopped off.

But let me talk about the other stuff too. Chennai has hands down the best art and culture scene if you know what and where to look for. I was lucky enough to attend a handful of musical concerts and the love the people here show for their music is truly delightful. I’ve always said that Chennai has its one foot firmly in its past, which is yet another dichotomy that I find interesting. While every other city in the country is trying to reinvent itself by becoming more westernized, Chennai embraces the modern world while still never fully letting go of its essence. I simply love this aspect of the city.

But of course, a city is only as good as the people you’re gonna remember it by. And I have to say that I’ve met some of the most incredible people ever in Chennai, whose friendship is something that I’m gonna cherish forever. I’ve seen my fair share of douches too, but hey, that’s supposed to happen, statistically speaking at least.

I realize that goodbyes can be pretty hard, but not if I think that this is not a goodbye after all. I mean, I’m not dying for crying out loud. And I know I’ll come back to Chennai, as a guest albeit. Still, I’m one to get carried away by my obnoxious sense of nostalgia. For about a week now, no matter what I do I cannot help but say to myself: this is the last time I’m gonna visit this place, this is the last time I’m gonna walk through that door, this is the last time I’m gonna take this bus, this is the last time I’m gonna see this person, this is the last time I’m gonna hang my clothes dry on this terrace. You name it, I probably thought of it. Even right now, the fact that this probably is the last blog post I’ll be writing from Chennai is a tad upsetting to be honest.

Which actually brings me to this blog itself. Udayology started as an extension to my mind, and a lot of things came together for me to finally take that plunge into blogging. And Chennai has always been a big part of it. The first post was published on March 24, 2015 so yes, I’m freshly out of a blogiversary! I hope I covered Chennai to my best ability and that I was at least partly successful in my attempt to showcase the city in a better light. Photo 101 is still on, so I think my photographic ode to Chennai will continue for a week more before I switch to photographs from Hyderabad, unless I decide to do a throwback! I mean, it’s only natural. 🙂

It’s curious how just as with people, once you’ve seen a city at its worst you tend to develop a newfound connection to it. And as someone who’s seen the resilience of the city during the horrific floods, I have a newfound appreciation for the people of Chennai as well. And I think no matter where my journey takes me in future, I’ll always carry a little Chennai spirit along with me.

Ciao for now, you Singara Chennai.

 

 

Photo 101: Moment and Motion

Chennai comes the most alive in its various shopping malls. Phoenix Marketcity in particular is the best of the lot, with its multitude of options when it comes to shopping and stuffing yourself with some delicious grub. It is the first mall in Chennai to get a Hard Rock Café, a Starbucks, Burger King and very recently, Dunkin’ Donuts!! My favourite of course is a little Italian place crammed into the ground level called Ci gusta! Gotta love their lasagnas!

It also is home to one of the best multiplexes in the city, Luxe Cinemas, featuring even an IMAX screen now.

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This photo is of the escalator connecting the ground and first levels. Here’s some technical info to shed some light into understanding how I achieved this with a handheld smartphone –

ISO 64

Shutter Speed 1/2 sec.

Aperture f/2.2 (that’s fixed on my Lumia 830)

 

 

Photo 101: Architecture and Monochrome

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One of my favourite places in Chennai, the Museum Theater!!

I’ve attended many a concerts in this one and I have to say that even though the acoustics are not as great as the other biggies in town, Museum Theater still makes up for it with its stunning architecture and a serene neighborhood. #nostalgia

Photo 101: Warmth & the Quality of light

Well the Sun was more to the front to the side, but I like how it is at just that perfect angle to bring out the details and depth in this wonderfully sculpted little temple.

Mahabalipuram has a lot of marvelous stone carved architecture like this and I think it’s one of the very few places in the country that keeps this art alive.

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Photo 101: Natural World

Well with such an open prompt, I racked my mind as to what to shoot for today. The thing is, I live just a stone’s throw from this lake but I never saw it as a photo-op as the surroundings are not really pretty and the water is quite polluted.

But turns out, a little perspective was all that was needed. Also, I think the tree branches make for some nice leading lines don’t you think?

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Chitlapakkam Lake

Photo 101: Big

Well the first things that popped into my head when I saw the prompt Big are the lighthouses of Chennai. I also think lighthouses make great subjects to test different POVs. You can put them afar in the frame and make them standout against the sea.

Or you can get up close and make the entire photo about them like I’ve done below.

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Mahabalipuram Lighthouse

 

The below is the main lighthouse of Chennai adjoining the Marina beach. It was just a bit of serendipity that the morning sun was right behind it when I captured this shot 🙂

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Chennai Lighthouse

Photo 101: Connect

Chennai and Connect. Lots of interpretations can be made indeed. I could show you Chennai’s British connection or Pondicherry’s French connection but since I’ve already done that in the past I’m gonna go literal and bring you a bridge.

And not just ANY bridge, but the iconic Napiers Bridge over the Cooum river near the marina. A lot of South Indians might be familiar with this sight since this bridge has been used as a backdrop for many popular film songs and scenes. The whitewashed arches do look striking when viewed from a distance though unfortunately I never got a photograph from that angle.

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Photo 101: Solitude

Well, apart from lazing around on a beach (my yesterday’s submission for Bliss), one of the other things that screams solitude is visiting the library! Not just any library, but arguably the largest in the country – Anna Centenary Library!

Seriously, if you’re a Chennaiite and a bookworm, there’s no better haven than this! Spread across seven floors and covering every damn subject under the sun, this is the ultimate place to be to discover new books on topics as intriguing as Digital Photography but also as esoteric as Witchcraft. They also have an entire floor’s worth of fiction, so that’s a big plus too.

I love the ambience of the place, very stark and modern with comfortable chairs and desks and ample natural lighting.

The only negative, you actually can’t check out books and take them home!! Yea, I know. Such a big bummer. But hey, not a bad way to curl up with a book for an entire day.

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