24 October 2011

Chennai Men and Food

First the men: The buses in Chennai don’t have separate sections for men & women. You can get in, sit, & get out from wherever you want. Surprising! The AC Volvo buses are like that everywhere, understandable but ordinary buses too? In Bangalore, the first 4-5 rows are reserved for women. A man cannot enter from the front door (not referring to Volvo/pushpak buses) unless he wants to be scolded by the driver/the ladies. And in spite of that, in the 9 years that I’ve lived here, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been brushed against or seen someone else being touched/thrust upon or coming too close for comfort cases. Even if you’re sitting, you’re not spared. They’ll stare right into your blouse/top & stand facing you so that some part of their body manages to come in contact with your skin. And so I was eager to see the distances people maintained in Chennai buses. In 5 days, I didn’t see anyone brushing (or trying to) himself against me or anyone else. If there’s 1 thing that I hate about Bangalore, & 1 thing that I liked about Chennai, it’d be this: not being someone’s shag machine.

But tell me, is this the way it generally is in Chennai? If it is, I’m surprised & relieved. So we do have at least 1 place in the world where a woman can travel without worrying who is going to touch/peep/stare/fall on her. If it isn’t, & in Chennai too, the situation is same as anywhere else, then well…what can I say? I’m glad, at least in those 5 days, I didn’t go through/see it.

The other thing I couldn’t understand about Chennai was I didn’t face too many situations of men ogling; the dirty stares, the come-hither glances, the lecherous lip gestures. The situation is not good in Bangalore or in Hyderabad or Bombay or Delhi. But the state that takes the cake in this matter is Kerala. You face 2 problems there: finding vegetarian food & vegetarian men. They are famous for their non-veg stares. They can scan & strip you with their eyes even if you were draped in a burqa or a steel jacket. That is the reason I wouldn’t ever want to work/stay/settle/live there. A malayali man who doesn’t scan you naked is a rare species. He must be a yugapurusham (man of the century)/devapurusham (godly man). So I wonder, is Chennai really different in this aspect – men leering at you? Do you really have lesser number of lechers? It’s hard to believe.

As soon as we got off the train, we went straight to the famous Saravana Bhavan for breakfast & after paying Rs 230, we wanted to go to another hotel for “real” “filling” breakfast & thought if breakfast is going to cost us a bomb, what about lunch/dinner? But, luckily, the other hotels are fair– both with quantity, price & quality.

Don’t eat in Saravana Bhavan. Those guys take orders in their electronic machines (not pen/paper or mentally) & then rip you royally in the name of quality which is not earth shattering anyways. A vada, which is really small in size compared to what you get here, will cost you twice!

In the name of Pongal you get a blob the size of a big idly & costs like Rs 35.

I had a problem when I visited other parts of TN. Dinner is usually breakfast!! You only get parota, kuttu, dosa at night! But luckily, that wasn’t a problem in Chennai. They eat breakfast in the morning & dinner at night.

I’ve to mention the Chennai juice. It’s usually more ice than juice. It made me want to tell the juice man, “If we want, we’ll ask for ice water.” Make it a separate item. But the strange thing is, he happily gives you the balance juice from the jar!! So what exactly do they do in Bangalore? Throw the extra quantity away? Fill it up for someone else? Drink it themselves when no one is looking or when the mood caches them? No idea. I’ve seen it stays in the jar, but never hung around long enough to see what actually happens to the excess.


  1. hahahahhaha well i have to see these daredevil men in blore next time i visit, may be women know better than me.and yes sarvana bhavan is absolute CRAP. i have had my share in kanyakumari.90 rs for a dosa.chennai is a mixed bag whatever anyone says

  2. Sorry for being so late, I read the first of the sequel the day you posted it but the moment I clicked to post comment, my screen became blue. Virus in the hard disk...Anyways, auto drivers are quite entertaining in every part of our country and so was that post. Second was quite insightful of the city and I love this one as it talks about food;)...As I said earlier, you made Chennai so desirable...Thanks for sharing all your lovely experiences and making us a part of it!


  3. SuJu I am jealous of your bus experience in Chennai....I have slapped a guy in Chennai local bus, crushed another one-s balls, registered a case in a local police station against another idiot for misbehaving with me in the bus. After one week of travel in Chennai buses I was contemplating if I should start taking contraceptive pills, because there was always this scare of some man thrusting himself on me.. The next week i bought my own two wheeler...but poor girls who cannot do that suffer in those buses.. i can guarantee you that... Even when I am typing this thing I am fuming at the thought of my bus experience there (phew)
    Oh yes Sarvana Bhavan is damn expensive and i know this dinner thing can really be a sad state..it is actually breakfast...and juice you are bang on with that... but then I quickly learnt to say not put any ice.. and then once i got the juice i asked for a cube or so separately...but seriously I loved the juices because in Pune it is sooooo bad

  4. You should try the Sangeetha chain of restaurants or the local Andhra Mess chain while in Chennai. Not Saravana Bhavan, which charges a bomb for slightly ok food.

    Its really strange to understand why they have not implemented the ladies in the front/ men at the back seating arrangement in Chennai. In crowded buses, things sometimes do escalate as it is easier, but their frequency is less. I have seen public shouting at misbehaving men, and many are afraid of that.

    I do agree about the problem of finding some good vegetarian food in Kerala. I have faced it.

    Destination Infinity

  5. Nice account of Chennai... hey I too heard the same thing bout Saravana Bhavan .. bout their mini idlis or sumthin :)

  6. Thank you so much for posting it. Now I know so much about Chennai. I had no clue about this.

  7. Dear Blogger Friend,Wish U a Warm and Happy Diwali.Enjoy the Festivities with taste-filled delights,Safe and Delicious Memorable Moments - Regards, Christy Gerald

  8. LOL...have been to chennai for few days...nice place...nice ppl...though i misses my non-veg dishes...:)

  9. I must say: between your 3 posts, you have given a very nice flavor of Chennai. :) I am glad that you didnt have any problem in Chennai buses. Well.. I guess there are always good and bad men, but I think things have improved in Chennai buses (hopefully)!

    "Finding Veg food and Veg men" was funny! :) A nice travelogue! :)

  10. South Indian food shouldn't be so costly in places like Chennai. But, it also matters where you step in to dine.

    About the situation of women in busses, guess it would be better understood if am re-born as woman! Such things are not only common in Bangalore, but elsewhere too. You might be lucky to be 'spared' in Chennai. Hurts reading about it though :o|

  11. I visited Chennai 10 years back when my cousin was living there. There are no separation for men and women even at that point in time. :) A lot of good people there? I guess.

    Funny you bring the juice and pouring what is left of the juice on to our glasses. I loved Chennai for it's fruit-juice stalls everywhere in the city and for making sure we got all what we paid for. :) I don't remember the ice part. I had my own favorite joints. I guess the ice part is because of the heat and the locals might love it that way.

    Finally, grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Thanks for describing Kerala men wonderfully. :( It might be accurate. But I cringed!

  12. Ha.ha. .

    There was a time when every person (irrespective of the gender) ahead was a shag machine in chennai buses. Its surprising that the whole thing has changed.

    Kerala men, the scanning skill is in the blood. But its effective only within the political boundaries of the state. Once out of the state, keralites turn out to be blind. & ya, I'm a malayalee. ;-)

    I used to hate the concept of breakfast and dinner being the same. That too, my mess used to close by 7.30 after serving "dosas and idlis". At around 10pm we used to breach the security line to the roadside shops for egg bulls-eye and bread.

  13. @madhav: you must, you must – see our daredevil men
    Ya true- a mixed bag

    @Saru: It frustrates me too – just when I am about to post a comment, if the system crashes or something else happens. Arghh!
    Thanks for your comments Saru

  14. @Sunita: registered a case?? Hmmm! That’s quite a step & to know what must’ve pushed you to do it.
    For a long time, I couldn’t “deal” with such men. I’d, like many others, suffer in silence or go home & cry & feel guilty.
    But lately, I even stand up for someone else if I see something bad happening. I’ve grown bolder & confident over the years.
    I regret the times I didn’t put up a fight & I so admire you for doing it.

  15. @Destination: right, Andhra mess is the best bet no matter where in South India.

    @R-A-J: yes they give these tiny mini idlis soaked in a big bowl of sambar

    @A: for me too it was the first time, so I am recording everything – thanks to the blog

    @Christy: thank you so much. And wish you the same

    @SUB: once a non-veg, always a non-veg :). Same here

  16. @Raj: thank you so much Raj. and thanks to this blog i am able to record everything. my earlier travels & memories are all in my mind. nothing in writing

    @Prashanth: ya that's why we were surprised with the Saravana experience

    @Nona: hehehhe -- you must fall under the yugapurusham category :))

    @LeoPaw: i can understand your struggles - bullseye & bread for dinner! faced similar problems in trichy/pondi & other places. TN is the only South Indian state with this unusual habit of having dosa/idli for dinner

  17. Wow Sujatha! U were damn lucky!!
    As Sunita said, travelling by local bus in Chennai is horrible when it comes to lecherous men. Actually I haven't really travelled by local bus in other parts of India but in Chennai, I have got pinched, stroked, fondled, stared at, leered at, winked at and the worst, even exposed at!!! Ughhh!
    And eve-teasing is a huge problem too. I guess it happens all over India - in that India stand united! Sheesh!

    Saravana Bhavan is indeed quite expensive, But we love the food there, although we go there only rarely for something special-definitely not an everyday kind of place. Also prices/service varies among the different branches of Saravana Bhavan in Chennai itself :-)

    And yes many people eat tiffin varieties like idli, dosa for dinner. Not sure why exactly!!

  18. @Anne: aah! well, no place is safe then. i was surprised while i was there & kept wondering is it because of the fixation with temples/religion that Chennai "seems" to be different, but alas! its the same too :(

    ya that dinner thing is only in TN. no other southern state. wonder why!!

  19. You had a wonderful bus experience in Channai... that's so rare and such a relief, though Anne John has had an altogether different experience!
    I have been to Chennai many a times and I just love eating at Saravana Bhawan. :)
    Nice account of your trip... made for an interesting read! :)

  20. @Shilpa: yes and thank god for that :) - my "safe" bus experience

    thank you Shilpa

  21. I have also visited along with your 3 episodes the roades of Chennai.

    Thanx for posting and sharing ur experiences.

  22. You good Good food, with a good value for your money, but only if you know the right places.

    And Chennai's bus problems are the same as the ones in Banglore. Good that you did not have to experience it. If you were travelling by AC buses, the crowd would have been good and hence the absence of all those problems.

  23. Could not stop smiling after reading ur observations of kerala men...Well dont blame them,it is the volouptous,sensual and sharp features of women there that attract natural stare.

    Yes i agree that in chennai women are not treated as badly as in other part of country.Anyways all men irrespective of any city are always in either of this two states:Hungry or horny.

    Do visit gujrat,delhi or rajasthan..u will find southindian men saint.

  24. Sujatha i look at this way, we don t buy mineral water at Sarvana Bhavan, so mineral water cost is saved with good filtered water. Let us say Rs 20 to Rs 25 per bottle of water and rest we pay for the food served in style, and ambience. There are some good hotels in Parry's corner for breakfast.

    The Udupi home veg food is pretty good at Egmore, even i liked newly opened Vasantha Bhavan at Egmore.

    I liked travelling in Sub urban train in Chennai which is fast and cheap. There is not much rush too.

    Good Men and bad men are always present everywhere, so the key word is to be out only between 6 am to 6pm as a tourist. It is safe policy. Unless one is commuting between outstation to HQ.

    The concept of Veg meals and men was gr8.

  25. Men are always men, no matter what region they belong to.....You can't just come to a conclusion about Chennai because it's a real big city, well know for its dark side too.

    From: sriramnivas.wordpress.com

  26. :D Mallu men :D might be hating you for this post but then you have tamilians who may appreciate :)

    i love tamilian sambhar and upma :)

  27. @Neeraj: thank you

    @Ashwini: yes the Volvos are safe bets here too

    @Vinod: aha Vinod what justification you gave in support of the mallus.. hmmmmpf!
    rajathan is one state i DESPERATELY want to see & if i don't before i die, i will come back as a ghost

  28. @Deguide: thats correct, Parry's corner has some good places.
    I didnt face any problem in Chennai even when i was out past 6pm. i got lucky i guess

    @Sriram: i didn't conclude anything about the chennai men.in fact i wondered about them! are they really like that - as i saw?

  29. @Chintan: hehhe the mallus will detest it i know :))
    yes their sambhar tickles the taste buds & revs up an appetite

  30. Shag Machines? LOL!!! Creative phrase!

  31. @Vinod: :)

    @Avalok: hehhhee thanks Sir

  32. Your observations about buses ,food in Saravana Bhavan etc are almost correct.

    I have not travelled in the City buses for a long time. I remember that there used to be a system of Gents seats on the right side and Ladies seats on the left side of the buses. I don't think that they have discontinued.

    Wish you happy and prosperous Deepavali.

  33. @sujatha nice post ...having travelled to many cities in india and though no place is immune to eve teasing kerala is one among the top . not that all men are eveteasers but there are probably more in kerala .you gave me one more topic to blog in which this and alcoholism in kerala will be dealt with .

  34. @Saibaba: thank you for posting your comments. and wish you a very happy diwali too

    @Haroon: that's nice to know. will look forward to your posts on them

  35. Wow! As a "Malayali man" I'll have to introspect about my way of looking at women!
    Just joking.

    Enjoyed the write-up though I have only "passing" knowledge about Chennai and Bangalore: I have passed through them a few times.

  36. @matheikal: :))
    thank you for posting your comments.welcome to my blog

  37. Hahaha, Yugapurusham!!! Very Apt...

  38. I was in Chennai for a couple of months. I seem to remember the window seats used to be reserved for women. Well, it's nice to read someone who had a good experience in Chennai. Mine wasn't too bad either but I couldn't wait to get back in Bangalore.

  39. Perverts are everywhere. Be it chennai, bangalore or Hyd. Just because you have had some bad experiences in Kerala, doesnt mean that a decent Malayalee man is a rare species. I beg to differ. I was in chennai for some time.many a times have been groped. so ya were just lucky this time.

  40. @Kumar: thank you

    @Ramakant: by the end of the week, i too felt homesick already. thanks for posting your comments & welcome to my blog

    @Anju: yes,i was lucky in chennai. thanks for your comments. welcome to my space

  41. About those lechers in Chennai.. I've heard a friend saying that if he whistled at a girl in there he would get slapped straight away.. and he can do that freely in B'lore. Maybe it is true that people are very decent there..

  42. @Shruthi: that whistling thing reminded me of a scene from a tamil movie :)
    wish the crowds would support do the same here

  43. Am too late to comment in this post... Hmmm..

    Chennai does have such men and they are there everywhere. But I guess the crime rate is less when compared to other cities. Actually in all ordinary buses (sparing volvo), the left side seats and the full last seat are reserved for women. But guys barge-in when there's no crowd.

    And Saravana Bhavan is of course known for less quantity at steep price. You can try food in Sangeetha - Comparably good taste and not so expensive. Getting your juice refilled is an amazing think for foodies. Won't you get that in other cities? hmmm, then i must treasure Chennai for this!! You must try "Fruitshop on greams road" juices. Simply fabulous here!!!

    Great one Sujatha!! :) :) *double likes*

  44. @Anand: better late than never :))
    guess you were busy "forgiving" everyone (wink)!!

    yeah the juice being refilled was great. no other city has this value-added-service :)

  45. haha.. Lucky that u had a nice time on the buses... usually the women seat reservation is same as in blore... people can sit anywhere they want until sumone from the opposite sex opposes to it...

    And saravana bhavan is a international eatery :P how did u expect to get food cheap ?? :D

  46. Its like you were closely observing every encounter, but felt bad when you said about Kerala-"They can scan & strip you with their eyes even if you were draped in a burqa or a steel jacket." For a long I had wish..whenever I'll get married I'll visit Kerala for Honeymoon. I think I need to change my plan...What you suggest?

  47. Well, peoples' attitude does not depend on the place Sujatha. Maybe you saw the brighter side of it.Good for you. We can never generalize on the behavior of the human being.
    We can just say what we perceive.
    Food! Yes, Saravana Bhavan is extremely costly.
    Eating idly will be like a small jamoon to elephant's stomach :D
    Road-side food is extremely good.
    I do not know about non-veg though.
    I am loving your Chennai experiences!

  48. SOrry.. My comments are coming in late. I am settling down in Pune. Just managing sometime now to access the internet.

  49. @Sourabh: international eatery?? haha!
    & well, i expected the food to match it's price - in quantity & quality.

    @Mithlash: hey stick to your future plan :)
    you'll be there na like a "bodyguard", phir kya! kerala is a lovely place to see

    @Sahana: that's perfectly ok Sahana - in fact better late than never. and settling down in a new place takes lot of time. so no probs. i understand. idly = jamun in elephants tummy - yessss

  50. just linked this article on my facebook account. it’s a very interesting article for all

    Cake Shop Chennai

  51. Soooo agree with you about Malayali men, I was 15 while visiting my uncle in Kochi when I experienced the oogling for the first time. As a teenager it was very embarrassing walking on the roads of Kochi with my cousin brother (who was also 15) and being oogled at. Visited again when I was 24, and saw no change, men irrespective of age young or a freaking old uncle would make you feel like u were walking around naked.
    Went back again when I was 27, now married, and wearing a salwar kameez, thought looking older would spare me, but a guy in an Alto, who looked old enough to be my father tried to pick me up while I was going to buy batteries in broad daylight. And this was in a Posh area in Kochi a few yards away from my uncles house. Couldn't believe nothing has changed in over a decade in Kerala, I love the place because of its beauty, but experiences like this ruin my trips to Kerala everytime.

    1. yeah true such experiences leave a bad taste
      i did my graduation in a college run by Mallu missionaries and where the mallu student population was more than 50% and kind of got an understanding. the mallu girls would always say that a mallu man when alone bhaves well but once he is in a group, its different

    2. You were lucky, I must say, guess 5 days is too short :)..lived in Chennai for four years...Chennai men do ogle and yes not like Kerala men on your face, chennaites speak behind your back :)
      And Bangalore...trust me its heaven, compared to others!!!

    3. liked that Bangalore being heaven bit ... many outsiders have said that after having been in different parts of other states