It was a hot and sweltering day as I landed in Chennai, after a long break of 4 months since my last visit. I was taking in every small sign – the chattering in Tamizh, signboards, the Saravana Bhawan, movie posters – all making me feel home again. I was almost sporting a silly smile as I floated into the taxi and told the driver ‘Thoraipakkam poganum’ (I have to go to Thoraipakkam in tamizh). Maybe he didn’t hear me, but minutes later he turned around and asked ‘Kahan jaana hai?”(Where to? in Hindi). I snapped out of my reverie - ‘had I heard that right?’ I had flown down all the way to a certified no-Hindi-land and the cabbie addresses me in the language that they refuse to acknowledge? Was the sun rising in the west these days?
I tried again – repeated where I needed to get to and asked him which route he planned to take. He didn’t respond for a bit; and then seemingly disappointed at an opportunity lost to hone his Hindi skills (I presume, or maybe he was disappointed that I was just a boring local and not an exotic tourist) answered me in Tamil. Still, a few minutes later he did try again - ‘Very very hot no today???”. I couldn’t but help smile.
Are the winds of change sweeping through the city after all?