Chennai – First Impression

(Neck-deep in the real world, I’d been ignoring this blog for some time. Now, to get back into the swing of things, let’s try today’s [yesterday’s now] Daily Prompt: Impression.)


chennai traffic

I did not visit Chennai until I was already an adult and when I finally did, the first impression was a sight to behold. I’m not kidding.

I was in an MTC bus on the Gemini Bridge, and below us in the Nungambakkam High Road there was a commotion. Traffic couldn’t move forward for who-knows-what reason, and within minutes, there was a huge traffic jam with cars and bikes and autos and buses. The cacophony of exasperated horns that rose up in the air, on that weekday morning, sounded like curses. I was fresh in from a godforsaken village in Tiruppur district and I was struck by the sight utterly. Who are all these people? Where are they going?

I had read Chennai was home to eight million human beings, of course, and tried to wrap my head around the fact that nearly 30000 people coexist here per square kilometer land. But intellectual comprehension is one thing, witnessing it for real is quite another.

As India industrializes, rural population migrates to urban areas for education and employment opportunities. It is obvious that this migration is not merely a shifting of living spaces but a move from a traditional agrarian economy where feudal systems wield considerable authority to a modern industrial economy where the individual depends on democratic institutions to work well.

And Tamil Nadu is rapidly urbanizing even outside the metropolis of Chennai—it may not be long before we had larger urban population—but that doesn’t stop Chennai from attracting so many young people from the remotest corners of the state. Often they are among the best and most ambitious of their generation. Often they leave behind a certain stability of rural life to embrace urban uncertainty in search of great things. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the future of our country depends such young men and women—some of whom were honking in the Nungambakkam High Road at the moment—and what they do with their lives individually and collectively.

Finally the blockade that held up the traffic seemed to have been cleared and the sea of vehicles started to move slowly. Watching it from above, it was like a giant wave advancing towards coast picking up speed. I fell in love with Chennai right away.


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