Chennai is an emotion for anyone who has spent at least a week in the city. The fragrance of the earth, concrete jungle, Tamilian food – The reasons can be numerous. Here in Kerala, I have met numerous friends and colleagues that reminisce about their Chennai days. We even have a song ‘Chennaipattanam’in a Malayalam movie. All these and more created an unprecedented intrigue inside me to know what is special about this city. Chennai – a Biography by V Sriram is indeed the biography of the eponymous city right from the time it was called Madras.
Chennai – a Biography by V Sriram
Everything related to Tamil Nadu has been accounted for for thousands of years. The author has rightfully called out this habit of ours. This assumption is because the city and its language are of the ancient ones in India. The author grabs our hand and takes us through the lanes of Madras in the post-colonial period. It is fascinating to see how the city that grew up around cooum which later became synonymous with gutter emerged to be one of the most influential metros in India. The growth chart is steep and is punctuated by heartwrenching pain, sweat, and blood.
While the author adores the land he leaves no stone unturned in calling out the other side of the picture, be it the MTC buses, or faulty educational system, or the fact that Chennai is the suicide capital of India. While the city is the hub of cosmopolitan life, there is another side to the city where the downtrodden underdogs survive.
The author has successfully portrayed the city as a miniature representation of the variety of human life. Of all the facts that hook humans to the city, food is the prime factor. The author talks about language politics and how molded the city into what it is now. Once we wrap the book, we are content to have known the city inside out with its richness of history, literature, cuisines, politics, and whatnot.