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.
Food: 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.
Juice: 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.