Chennai street, Buddhist center in background.
Chennai Central smells like pee for about a kilometer around. I get off at Egmore. It’s another world. I’m not saying it’s fragrant, but Chennai is more green than Hyderabad or Bangalore. It’s actually kinda happening. I walk towards the Buddhist stupa at a Sri Lankan center. They tell me I can’t meditate there, they’re just showing dubbed cartoons in Sinhala. I keep going, find some breakfast. I’m really trying to avoid bathrooms in Tamil Nadu but I’m so hungry and thirsty all the time. I drink every juice I can get my hands on, from every street corner. It’s hot. Meet a friend for lunch. She has a car and we’re in the AC lane of life. Eat some designer paneer and go sari shopping. Chennai is not so bad at all.
The main complaint with Indian cities is that they’ve urbanized too fast, too dirty. The cities are full of concrete walls. If there’s a wall in India somebody’s probably peed on it. Chennai, by contrast, feels a bit older. There’s some ban on excessive billboards and you actually see a lot of trees. In the center of town the Ramakrishna Temple is open, you can wander into the serene leafy grounds and just meditate.
I’m not saying I could live there. It’s still too hot and too familiar. But I was wrong to badmouth Chennai before. It’s actually alright.