Madras Day 2020 Musings

Dearest Madras,

Wishing you a very, very happy birthday! It has been more than 7 months since I flew away from you and how much life has changed in between?!

From being just a 4.5 hrs flight journey away from you, I am suddenly a flight journey (and that too to some other neighbouring place) + 14 days quarantine + a scary-looking swab test away from you! What sort of a world has this become with nobody being even a tad bit certain about whether they are carrying the virus or not?!

When the Coronavirus started in Singapore exactly 7 months back, I never ever thought even in my wildest dreams that it would attack India and especially you, in as worse a way as it is doing now! Didn’t you always escape flu and, for that matter, most of the major epidemics and disasters? Didn’t you always have the sun and the super hot weather aiding you in escaping from the flu?

When will the shops of Ranganathan Street start buzzing again without the worry of virus lurking over it? When will the places of worship open and devotees can resume their prayers there? Did we ever foresee a situation where our railway stations and bus terminus bustling with activity would suddenly become devoid of vehicles themselves?? When will Carnatic music kutcheris happen again?? It looks like for the first time, December Music Season might not happen in front of packed audiences at all!

From flower sellers, the tailors in the dingy basements of Ranganathan Street, the salesperson and many other labourers to software folks and other executives and even pilots and flight attendants, this virus hasn’t spared the livelihoods of anyone!

Forget about all these, when will the children start going to schools in packed autos and buses?

When will our hospitals stop becoming overwhelmed with patients? With being fully masked up and wearing protective gear, when will our doctors and healthcare workers get to freely breathe again?

Things are quite worrisome when you think about everything that is happening around us.

I saw all those videos on Youtube of your empty roads during lockdown. Wouldn’t it be awesome to go on a drive on those roads listening to Rahman’s songs? Well, no! All I want right now is for the chaos and crowds of not just you, but all the cities all over the world to resume without the virus lurking over us.

Yes, we, as a generation, have been travelling way too much and have taken the power of connectivity for granted and have over-abused it, of course. So, maybe, once things get back to normal or the ‘new normal’ as every other article on magazines and newspapers say, we can hopefully try to be a bit more kinder towards the environment.

For now, being away from you, it is your culture and heritage that I find solace and strength in, during all those anxiety and panic-inducing moments. The lectures, celebrity conversations and interviews, kutcheris and travelogues on Youtube give me the much-needed virtual taste of home.

You know that it has always been the June and December trips to Madras that have always kept me going. This year, it looks like I will not be visiting you for a lot more months or for even a year from now!

Bye, bye, my Madras! I really, really do miss you! Let’s hope that at least by your next birthday, we will have entered a mask and sanitizer-free world and all our frontline heroes will be having a break!

Adieu from a Madras Maniac!

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