A love letter to Madras@383

Among metros, few cities could boast of the human and urban infrastructural indices that our’s can take pride in.
Illustration by Saai
Illustration by Saai

CHENNAI: Chennai, or Madras as it was known back then, turns 383 years old today. We’re 17 years short of turning four centuries old, and what a dream run it has been.

Illustration by Saai
Madras Day: The magnificient city turns 383 tomorrow

The city, which is often referred to as the cultural capital of south India has been through its share of trials and tribulations.

Post-Independence, the Madras Presidency was bifurcated into two States – AP and Madras, after which, it was further split into Madras, Mysore and Kerala.

Illustration by Saai
Madras Day: Cycling yogis launch vintage bicycle exhibition

Thanks to the city’s geographical positioning and a spectacular coastline, Madras has been a gateway of choice to southeast Asia and beyond.

The opening of sea trade routes and the arrival of floating populations by the millions, have endowed it with a character unlike any other city in India.

Today, it is home to the political nerve centre of Tamil Nadu, India’s most industrialised State.

Among metros, few cities could boast of the human and urban infrastructural indices that our’s can take pride in.

Illustration by Saai
Those were the days: Memoirs on Madras, its glorious past & legacy

The city has been referred to as an educational hotspot with reputed academic institutions and a list of alumni that could give Harvard a run for its money.

The metro has many things going for it. The city is more affordable than Bengaluru, in terms of living expenses – about 14.76% cheaper.

Factor in the component of rental, and our city’s rent on average is 27.42% lower than that of Bengaluru.

We also have an exemplary public transport network, supported by both road as well as suburban and metro rail connectivity.

Debilitating traffic jams, a hallmark of metros like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru, are few and far between here.

Public safety, as well as law and order are things we take for granted. Yes, people do get shooed away from beaches and other free to use public congregation points before midnight, but the city has a safe vibe going for it, which makes it a favourite for not just students, but professionals, and entrepreneurs.

The assimilative nature of our society can be seen in how Tibetan refugees and students have been absorbed into the social fabric.

Or how Marwadi and Gujarati traders in Sowcarpet or Purasawalkam bargain with you in chaste Tamizh. And let’s not get started on the influence our food, films and music have on the rest of India.

Illustration by Saai
Madras day: Individuals recognised for social service in Chennai

The city remains the OG as far as artistic and gastronomic inspiration is concerned.

Like any self-effacing citizen, we also need to highlight things that could improve. We could reduce our reliance on private transport, if greener and public modes of commute can be mainstreamed.

That can only happen if last mile connectivity, a pain point in many regions, can be standardised, and be made hassle-free. We do have good roads, but they get waterlogged every monsoon – that needs to change.

We also need more public amenities, such as green spaces, gardens, sporting arenas, public restrooms, and efficient waste management systems to keep up with the rapid urbanisation.

Illustration by Saai
Chennai day celebrations in Elliott's Beach

The reason many of us have stuck on – no, we can’t do anything about the endless summer heat, it’s always been this warm – is because of its people.

The biggest asset that our city has is its people – warm and welcoming by nature, garrulous, curious and reserved by turns, but always ready to lend a helping hand.

A few minor gripes aside, we wouldn’t change a thing. Stay the same and have a good one, Madras.

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