Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Eh... Madrasi !!!!!

The Modest Madrasi.

Chennai is a city, which as described in the words of Biswajit Ghosh in his book Tamarind city is 'irritatingly modest'.   Pompousness just is’nt part of the Madrasi's DNA.

While the Madrasi's modest disposition cannot be generalized since there are noteworthy exceptions all the time ,  it is not very unusual to come across a Madrasi, take him /her for granted and then realize that the fellow is probably far advanced that many. Looks are deceptive.  And the Madrasi takes utmost care to groom himself or herself to makes sure he/ she is dressed up to deceive.

While modesty by itself is a worthy enough virtue to be emulated, it made the Non resident Madrasi  who migrated to make a  living in other parts of the country  overly stereotyped.  A Madrasi would be stereotyped  to being a risk averse sissy and a timid Work horse who hesitated to demand his dues.
A Madrasi is a darling of many a skeptical north Indian landlords, for he comes with zero headaches if you rented your house to him unlike the local tenants. I certainly can vouch for that.  In the early 80's when we lived in Pune, every time when Appa’s  bank would revise the House rent allowance (HRA), Appa would proactively inform Kunjeer uncle, the landlord asking him ask for a hike in the rent. What I did not know then is that the entire clan was made of similar stuff...

Apart from being simple and straightforward at heart, the Madrasi is normally very frugal. You may even call him miserly and a penny pincher. He won't take offence and would most probably agree with you. It takes a lot for the materialistic world to set the bait that would trap the Modest Madrasi.

This is the concluding  part of Eh... Madrasi and I know I have digressed much more that what a certain Christopher Columbus did when he set out to sail for India.

In part 1 of Eh... Madrasi, I had started with saying ...

'It was a city I loved to hate ... It is always a city I would love to hate.'

It is with such mixed feelings that I travel down to Chennai to take part in a couple of its heritage walks. Most Heritage walks in other cities, are largely attended by foreigners or atleast tourists and visitors from other cities.
In a Chennai heritage walk, (or atleast the ones that I went for) the walkers were a motley bunch of Chennaites.    Tamil speaking Madrasis from all over the world  and also from Chennai.    

That Chennai, like most cities with tons of history and culture buried underneath its streets, dilapidated or destroyed structures and people has decided to actually talk about it. This was certainly heartwarming. 

The message from the Heritage walk was this.

Chennai,(the home of the true Madrasi) has decided to shed its modesty and showcase its heritage.
This was where many events that turned the history of India began.

( Oye you Calcuttans .. we listened to all that you bragged about being home to all those nobel laureates. Now it is your time to listen to our claim to fame)
  Chennai was home to Cornwallis and to Lord Clive before they moved northwards to conquer.
This was the city that housed the Exiled king Theebaw of Burma and his family before they were sent off to Ratnagiri, then a sleepy town overlooking the  Arabian sea in Maharasthra.
It was the city that housed the first observatory in India which surveyed and created the map of India. The next observatory was then set up in Nagpur, central India, from where George Everest  moved on to survey amongst many other mundane things the highest peak of the world which incidentally got named after him.

This was the city that showed the world that the cut throat and capital intensive businesses of medical research could be done with a charitable approach and still make sound business sense. The Sankara eye hospital and the Madras medical mission and their pioneering and pathbreaking research combined with  philanthropic approach in getting cost competitive and quality eye surgeries and heart surgeries done at affordable cost has indeed left the business of medical professionals stunned the world over.

I came back, secure in the knowledge, that there actually was a lot of pride associated with being called Eh... Madrasi.

Eh ... Madrasi ... !!! you rock.  

   This post is submitted as part of Write Tribe - Pro blogger - October

I am participating in the NaBloPoMo October 2014 
I am participating in the Write Tribe Pro Blogger October 2014

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