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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

MADNESS AT MADRAS

Arrived in Madras on Sunday evening, and within minutes of stepping out into the sweaty and sticky humidity, my concupiscence for the hills was never stronger. It was an absolute straight line from the airport to the hotel and accorded me a look at many sights familiar. Madras, of the harrowing weather, of jasmine flowers worn regardless of whyme or reason, of stately Ambassadors, of fast and furious State buses, and of autorickshaws drooling with skulduggery and thievery , is as it always was.

If there is a change, it is in the increasingly rampant consumerism, all brought about as a result of burgeoning awareness levels thanks to media, higher disposable incomes thanks to the service sectors opening up, and an inherent inferiority complex that has always prided itself on knowing Boston better than Bareilly. What could have changed also is--it seems to have transformed from a middle-aged city to a young one.The yuppie culture so held in thrall in a decadent Bangalore seems to hold sway.
Remarkably congested, yet a country mile away from the crawling traffic of Bombay. The streetside shops are the same, bustling with activity and eager patrons at all times of the day.
The denizens, as unmindful of "the other world" as ever, except when it suits their selfish ends and then new records at being unctuous and obsequious are set.

Ensconced in what is now called the Taj Connemara, am reliably informed that this haven used to be the hangout of glamorous cricketers of yore and hence the object of jaw-dropping awe--quite glad that my loved ones derive some vicarious pleasure in my staying there. Quite a departure from some of the other places I've stayed, Victorian settings, ramrod cupboards with wooden overtones, an honest and simple elegance that was earlier called class, and a very impressive study--cordoned off by a curtain and topped off with a high sofa-both reminiscent of a Prithviraj Kapoor in repose. A bed that is soem distance from the floor and the overall feel is one of the rooms built by the British in a hill-station. Quite homely !

Visited my gran and aunt yesterday in a throbbing suburb called Velachery. Bailed out of what could have been a potentially pernicious journey by a kindly colleague driving there. Had a grand time ( was admonished yet again for not taking them anything (--the funny thing is this time I remembered, but though better of it as I find this excessively formal and unbecoming :) ). Was on a sticky wicket on the way back--what with the time being 10 am. Boarded what is yet another travelling innovation ( Madras is way ahead of the others in terms of retail and transport )--a private bus and then another which covered the 16 kms in a jiffy. And got to listen to some Tamil oldies too . ...

The US Open was unspectacular--my team won the women's doubles expectedly, and slept at 4 30 after staying up to watch Federer at his regal best, vanquishing a hapless Hewitt licking dust. ( Although the latter avers that Sampras may have been able to challenge Roger, I don't think so )And yes, my slip about the Russian girls being far away from a Grand Slam has left me eating my words ( I still say that they are not good enough--the commentators backing of Kuznetova in the women's doubles , a day after she won, opining that she would have walloped Pascual and Suarez had it been singles, was preposterous and reactive). These Russians are far below standards achieved by Helena Sukova, Mary Joe F, Manuela Maleeva, all who never won a major.
Yet, results are against me--Has Time passed me by ? ...



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