‘Chasing My Mamet Duck’ came through as a play that appealed on so many levels and yet left much of the audience wondering what the point was. With representations on various levels, the play, if you could call it that, seemed to question various points of life and its meaning with no evident connection. Interesting clips from children on the meaning of life and clips on what the human race could be understood as 200 years from now. The contrast between life as we know it and what life seems like to someone untainted with the cynicism of everyday existence was interesting. The play involved contemporary devices that are natural in everyday life, from online chats to You Tube videos that speak of absolutely nothing. The play tried to involve the audience with live auctions and requests to text a certain number. Theatre unlike anything I’ve seen, ‘Chasing the Mamet Duck’ certainly was an interesting indulgence.
I HATE CHENNAI…Are you scandalised enough to keep reading? Good! I needed to make sure. Now that I have your attention, let me explain. I hate that good news on Chennai often gets sidelined while moral-policing news hogs the limelight. I hate that Chennai often gets labelled as regressive because it is conservative.
But most of all I hate that Chennai does not get its due share of credit for the brilliant street food that we have. Shamefully enough, after living in Chennai for 17 years, I discovered the brilliance of its food vendors only yesterday. It happened to be a holiday and mom chanced upon an article on the food fest at Island Grounds.
Of course the conversation on food began, how much had been written about the food fest, and how great it was. Fifteen minutes into the conversation we realised that we were way too hungry to settle for the day’s leftovers for dinner. That decided it. We were going to the food fest. Got into the car and drove there. We dragged some very enthusiastic friends along as well. Got there only to realise that with the crowds and the time we reached (very late) we weren’t going to get any food. So now we had growling stomachs and nothing to fill them with.
Fortunately for us one of the enthusiastic people with us happened to be an expert on “where to get brilliant food for amazing prices”. So trusting the strengths of our stomach we decided we would tour the city and eat what we were offered.
The first vendor we visited was this little corner shop somewhere in Parry’s. We stood on the road, risking our lives for kebabs and katti rolls. Was it worth it? Served on paper plates with the perfect combination of onions and mint chutney, delectable seems to be the only word to describe it.
We moved on. Reluctantly I admit, until we reached our next destination: a push cart serving what they call Burmese noodles. Whether Burma ever had noodles is not something I know or care about. But thank heavens Chennai does. Hot, cold or with soup? With crispy pieces or extra vegetable? A bit of everything… Mouth-watering again!
By this time everyone was shutting down but we weren’t ready to go home, so we ended up at foodie’s paradise: Besant Nagar Beach. Everything from peanuts in newspaper to bajji on plastic plates to cold coffee in hi-fi glasses. Not to forget kulfi and burgers.
Finally called it a night and decided that we had stuffed ourselves enough. I came home ready to proclaim to the world how much I loved Chennai and the intensity of tastes and sensations it offered. Spicy, sweet, crisp, hot, cold, soft, tangy, sharp, strong, bland, fiery, crunchy and salty (though that might have been the beach) I learnt more about city food in three hours than in over 15 years of eating in our restaurants. Good as they are, nothing beats standing and eating on the streets of *Namma Channai’.
I have lived in Chennai all my life. I remember lots of things that have come and disappeared in my 18-year-old life. While I’m of the generation that has woken up not to the smell of filter kappi but rather to my phone buzzing, a generation for whom it is more Chennai than Madras, it does not make me any less a Chennai-ite. I crib about the roads that are always being dug and the water that is eternally stagnant. I curse the endless traffic and the bad drivers. I hate share autos and the people who spit paan on the road and on newly painted walls. I wish we had better, cooler places to hang out. I’d like it to be less noisy. Anyone who doesn’t live in Chennai is missing out! Chennai’s grown and so have I with her.