Top 5 myths about living in Chennai

Published - November 04, 2017 10:00 am IST

15mp sowcarpet

15mp sowcarpet

Traditional. Old-fashioned. Language problems. These and a host of other factors are attributed to Chennai, one of the most misconstrued cities in India.

With a rich and glorious past and a highly promising future, Chennai’s present is one that’s gracefully modern. It’s difficult to restrict Chennai to saturated stereotypes like Rajnikanth jokes or Brahmin men with three ash strokes on their foreheads and dusky women with bunches of jasmine in their hair going ‘aiyo’ in surprise at the smallest hint of modernity.

The city wears its heavy mantle of culture with aplomb, welcoming more and more visitors and residents to its filter coffee drenched folds.

The IT industry has invaded Chennai in recent years and, like other cities in India, it too has seen a dramatic increase in its migrant population as jobseekers from all over the country land here. But despite its cosmopolitan outlook, myths about Chennai persist. Here are five of the most common ones that you should be aware of if you are thinking of living in Chennai.

Tamil should be part of your survival toolkit

Well, it’s always good to know the local language. But Chennai’s diversity means that you can still get by with other languages.

Areas like Sowcarpet and George Town, which have a strong North Indian population have aided in the widespread use of Hindi. Telugu is also widely spoken according to statistics from the 2011 Census.

Only South Indian fare is available

Sure, Chennai serves up the fluffiest idlis , crispiest dosas , light-as-air vadas , and the most aromatic sambar . But the city has tons more on offer for the hungry explorer.

Go to Mylapore, and you will get Amudha’s spicy bajjis .

Go to Mint Street in Sowcarpet, and you can sample Bhavin Mehta’s famous vada pavs and Kakada Ramprasad’s Gujarati chaats, sweets, and other savouries including fafda .

Next door to Ramprasad is the Punjabi wrestler from Patiala who migrated to Chennai nearly three decades ago and whose shop Anmol Lassi serves up huge glasses of chilled lassi . Chennai has something for everyone.

Chennai is conservative and there is no nightlife

Chennai has a persistent image of a staid old maid, which is one of its biggest misperceptions.

Chennaiites can spend their evenings going for a Bharatnatyam performance, play or a Carnatic music performance. But. Entire evenings can also be spent pub hopping in Chennai, exploring some of its glitzy watering holes with quirky names like Illusions, 10 Downing Street, The Velveteen Rabbit, Big Bang Theory, and Moon and Six Pence, among others.

Rooftop restaurants are aplenty, offering great views and food, and if you are game to burn off that high-calorie dinner immediately, hit one of the city’s numerous swanky nightclubs.

Chennai sticks to tradition, saris, and dhotis

Yes, Chennai does stick to some of its traditions. But saris and dhotis have made way for smart corporate wear, chic casuals, and sharp semi-formals.

Summery dresses, fashionable skirts, shorts, and equally trendy accessories are in vogue. That doesn’t mean that those gorgeous Kanjeevarams are gathering dust in a cupboard. Women, including youngsters, are making saris a fashion statement by draping those beautiful weaves in different ways.

Chennai is not cosmopolitan

Let’s lay that myth to rest, please.

Chennai buzzes with the sounds of temple bells mingled with Sanskrit chants, vegetable vendors shouting out their wares in Tamil and chaat stall owners asking your spice level preferences in Hindi. This is the new Chennai. One that welcomes everyone with open arms and the second and third generation residents who are Sindhis, Punjabis, Rajasthanis and Bengalis will swear by this. Chennai is less insular and one of India’s most vibrant, cosmopolitan cities now.

Traders from all over India migrated to Chennai in the early 1900s and have remained here ever since giving rise to non-Tamilians who are more at home in Chennai than some Tamilians themselves.


This article is contributed by RoofandFloor , part of KSL Digital Ventures Pvt. Ltd., from The Hindu Group

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