Random Ramblings

#10 : 600033 – Musings from Mambalam 

West Mambalam

Mambalam – The word that conjures up the image of a frenzied shopping area for many, while to me, it is home engulfing me in a warm fuzzy blanket. A home I initially hated. Now, I dread the prospect of relocating. Some tremendous shift in perspective isn’t it? That shift happened unknowingly.

I spent a good part of my childhood in Besant Nagar and Adyar till my parents decided to buy a house in West Mambalam. Having grown up amidst wide roads with lush green canopy and a beautiful beach nearby, Mambalam seemed like a desert to me. The goodbye was so painful that I had become numb and mechanized for a good 6 months. Try saying goodbye to your best friends who knew you from kindergarten! Try saying good bye to loving neighbors who treated you as their own children! It was one difficult time for a child all of 10. Given that we planned to  shift in the middle of a term, my parents found it difficult to secure an admission in any school in that area. I sincerely hoped their attempts failed so that I could continue being with my friends at school. Sadly, fate had different plans. I secured an admission in this all girls school which was located over Duraiswamy subway. We relocated from MG road to West Mambalam.

My School – Shri BS Mootha girls’s sen.sec. school

Life became difficult for me. I was surrounded just by girls who spoke a weird language – Marwari. The new school was run by a Jain trust, so the Marwari population. There were enough kids who did speak Tamil but it took me close to 6 months to get acquainted with them. I was looked upon like an alien as I predominantly spoke in English. Given that my bench mates from my previous school were from South Africa and Mumbai, I had become accustomed to speaking in English. Adding to the agony was the travel to school – narrow dusty roads filled with little shops. It was just shops shops shops everywhere.

As time passed I adapted. I made friends who made life bearable. The pain of being relocated and out of your comfort zone faded. In fact, thanks to these very friends – Dhivya & Lakshmi, I started loving the crowded streets of West Mambalam. I started loving the warm people I encountered every day. I started loving the eateries which served everything from the perfect filter Kaapi to delicious chaat items.  I started loving the temples filled with Tam-Brahm population.

Bakya fast food, Vinayaka Chat, Satyanrayana temple, Bus stand pillayar temple, Venkatasewara Boli stall – all regular haunts became deary to me. I had started to love the very place I hate with all the might a 10 year old could muster. Mambalam had finally become my home.

Yes, the roads are crowded with shops and people alike, but that is what defines this area. The warmth of the people, ease of access to  food & clothing shops, defined connectivity to other parts of the city – yes, we have it all.

In the mood for some authentic South India Milaga Bajji? We have Venkateshwara Boli stall. Try your luck racing the maamas and maamis of our area to eat Bajji in the evening. In the mood for delectable chaat items? Bakya and OSB it is! In fact Bakya fast food holds so much happy memories than my own house!

Bakya Fast food 😀

Want to listen to good Carnatic music? Try getting yourself a space to stand to watch Unnikrishnan/Sudha Ragunathan/ Kadri Gopalnath/Sikkil Gurucharan and many other established singers perform at Ayodhya Manpadam during the Raama Navami season.

Going abroad for a project? Shop for yummy Vadaams, Pickles, Rasam Paste/powder,Sambar paste/powder, all properly packed for your sojourn abroad.

Travelling to other part of the city? town? state? Ashok nagar bus stand, T Nagar bus stand, Ashok Nagar metro, Mambalam railway station – we have it all at the distance of a stone’s throw.

Shopping for wedding and festivals? Pothys, Nalli, Kumaran – I don’t even need to elaborate!

Medical emergency? We have a doctor in just about every street and SRM hospital is there as well.

I could go on and on writing about why my area is the best in spite of all shortcomings. Such has been the impact of the place, its culture and its warm inhabitants on me!

16 years since I made this place my home and now I don’t regret moving at all.

Note : Written based on CBC’s writing prompt! 

PS. Given  that I very much enjoyed writing this post, I’m now considering writing a second post on this very topic tracing the history of the area and elaborating the above discussed aspects. 


# 9 : Lunch Pi : Food Review

After three years of reviewing books, I’ve decided to diversify finally 😀 What could possibly be better than kicking it off with food! I don’t exactly belong to the foodie category but I can certainly appreciated good food.

I had called up Lunch Pi the day before I wanted to order and checked with them if I had to place the order now or if it could be done later. The person who answered was polite and courteous given the time I called them (8.30 pm). He said I could order any time before 11.30 AM which worked perfectly for me.

A visit to their website  showed me three options – A La Carte, Daily Menu and Party box with the A la carte and daily menu showing their same things. When I called up the next day to order, the person answering recommended that I visit their Facebook Page where they updated a daily menu. I ordered one Mini Thali and two Thalis and I wanted them delivered to my office at Guindy by 1pm. I was asked to text my address which I did.

1PM it was and there was no sign of delivery. Given that I am a stickler for punctuality, I rang them up and enquired about the food. The person apologetically replied that they had delivery issues with the previous delivery on route and our delivery would be delayed by 15 minutes.  Again, I called them up by 15 mins and was informed that the delivery person was at our gate. The delivery person profusely apologized for the delay.

Food finally 😀

The packing was perfect and made a lot of heads turn. It looked a lot like a typical pizza packing only a bit sturdier with an attractive logo. I simply hoped the food was as good. To my complete surprise the food was very tasty and the quantity was just perfect. The mini thali had one Paratha, one portion of Almond rice, Dal and Panner Butter masala with a small portion of salad. While, the regular Thali contained two Parathas, One comparatively bigger portion of Almond rice, Dal, Panner Butter masala and a small portion of sweet. Typically with such packed lunches, for some reason, the oil in the dish tends separate and floats on top making the dish almost inedible. The food delivered was quite warm and there wasn’t oil floating on top. So brownie points for that. The dishes weren’t spicy and the flavors were  well balanced. In short, that lunch turned out to be a lunch to remember 😀


Service 3.5/5 (Please do improve communication and put in place a mechanism to notify delay in delivery)

Food : 4.5/5

Packing : 5/5

Note : The Chennai Bloggers Club put me in touch with Lunch Pi and offered me a coupon in exchange for an honest review. 


Random Ramblings

#8 : Life, Lemons & Ilaiyaraaja

They say, when life throws lemons at you, make lemonade out of it. By the time I became a fan of Ilaiyaraaja (IR as I fondly call him now), life had thrown enough lemons at me to make two barrels of lemonade. In fact, at one point, before I became a fan of that man, I considered the prospect of “enduring” his songs, a lemon that life threw at me. So the lemon reference.

I belong to a generation which grew up listening to A.R.Rahman more than IR. 90s was the period when ARR started to garner attention. Back in school, I never really watched  movies. Obviously, I never listened to much cinema music too. As in, I wasn’t the type of kid who sat hours in front of the TV watching movies or songs. Even the occasional one or two songs I truly enjoyed back then were by ARR. Given that my parents found it wise to stock up only on carnatic music and sloka, I didn’t have that parental influence when it came to cinema songs. Being an introvert (of sorts, that part of my life deserves a post on its own) who was happy just reading books also didn’t help much.

That changed drastically when I stepped into college. I started making friends and stopped being that introvert. Given that most of my friends were also from my generation, it was just ARR, Backstreet boys, Greenday and Justin Timberlake for me. I couldn’t really stand IR’s music. I felt it was all slow.I could take melody from ARR but not from IR. I simply didn’t connect with his music back then. Thinking about it now, feels a bit comical.

I got out of college, stepped into corporate and the pelting of lemons had begun. One fine day, I got transferred to Tirunelveli to work in a factory. My work place was 26 kms away from where I stayed. The daily commute was  a good one and half hour ride on dusty roads in a rickety cab up and down. How do you kill time travelling – you either sleep or listen to music. Given that it was a shared cab, I couldn’t dictate the choice of music. Moreover,You can’t really say NO to your manager’s choice of music can you? Thankfully, he turned out to be a man with impeccable taste in music and he played really fair.

That, my dear ladies and gentleman is how I properly got introduced to IR’s music. Initially I would doze off when IR’s songs were being played and wake up when ARR’s song came on. That started changing. I started liking IR’s music. No song was ever repeated in a month. His music started to soothe me and calm me immaterial of the “lemons” I endured.

It’s been a year and half now since I got back to Chennai. I’m in love with IR’s music. I suppose somethings can’t be undone. Thanks to my pal Vinay from work, I am ‘discovering’ lovely tracks composed by IR.

I still prefer ARR over IR, but they are not to be compared. It is wise to enjoy the variety rather than to criticize the differences.

Here is a small list of my favorites.

  1. Kalakalamaga Vazhum – Punnagai Mannan – Not the best, but its one peppy number I love.
  2. Poove Sempoove –  I recently “discovered” that my mum loves this song too.
  3. Kaatre Enthan Geetham – Remember being speechless when I listened to this song the first time.
  4. Valayosai – God, this song is simply addictive
  5. All songs from Sindhu Bairavi – Never recovered after listening to this album

I hope to recollect that playlist I listened to for 8 months some day. To date, I regret not looting my manager’s music collection when I left the company. Of course, I can always catch the next train or bus to TVL and get that 😀