Neha Bhandarkar moved from Nagpur to Chennai to do her bachelor’s in journalism. She talks about her experiences in the metropolitan city by the sea.
Move to the college: I found out that there’s an undergraduate journalism programme available here. So in June 2008, I moved to Chennai to study for a BA in journalism in Madras Christian College. How were the first few days at the hostel or paying guest accommodation? My father is in the defence and he was posted here when I moved to Chennai for my BA.
Getting to know the city: This was quite a herculean task in the beginning as Chennai to an outsider can be altogether a new experience. It’s just “different”. Different when it comes to its people, food, customs, etc. You can find a lot of unusual things to which you are generally not used to in your normal life.
Getting comfortable in the college: Being from Nagpur, and ignoring Tamil as any north Indian, I did face some trouble in my initial days as people would smirk and mentally designate me as a criminal if I spoke in English, wanting to know something! I would look for anyone who spoke in English and engage myself in a random conversation. And if by any chance, I would hear anyone speaking in Hindi, that would be aah! Heaven! I wouldn’t even mind socialising with that person! Madras Christian College, or MCC as it’s better known to the students here, makes you feel at home, thanks to its sprawling green campus and its devil-may-care attitude. Three years here, I am absolutely glad that it happened to me.
People of the city: The crowd in Chennai is very mixed! The young girls and women dressed in silk sarees, no matter however modern, do adorn their hair with jasmine flowers (malli poo as it’s called)! They are certainly helpful if you know the Tamil language and even generally. Well, according to what I have experienced, they were always ready to help me whenever I had an address issue or anything similar. The best part is, they accept you the way you are.
Lifestyle it offers: Chennai offers quite a laid-back lifestyle! But to know Chennai as a whole you just have to be a little active! With its beaches and sultry heat, Chennai has its balanced share of peaceful living and a crowded reverie. Everything here has an intriguing feature and makes you think either in astonishment or in awe, I’ll suggest leave your qualms aside and just accept the city the way it is! (Do not forget you were not born here!) No wonder it’s also the capital of a state that has preserved its culture. When it comes to food, you not only enjoy the costly Continental cuisine but would also not mind tasting the roadside bhajjis etc. The Chennai filter coffee is to die for! If you forget the place where you lived earlier and accept Chennai the way it is, you’ll be accepted here with open arms!
Doing fun things: For fun, we always have some or the other thing to do. Travelling and visiting beaches, watching movies and meeting over lunch are some of the things that we enjoy doing.
What’s not likeable about the city: Initially, I hated the city. Nothing ever kept me happy! The only thing that I don’t like about it now is its sanitation and garbage problems.
Also, if more people can learn to speak Hindi, it will be convenient for people like me. Else, one needs to communicate in Tamil to survive.