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I had a colleague when I was doing my internship. He was brought up in Chennai although originally from Rajasthan. He could speak bits and pieces of Tamil only. Our internship days used to have a lot of travel within (and outside) the city to our client’s offices. So, whenever we had to travel anywhere within the city, this fellow would know the route only from our institute at Nungambakkam. Our office was at Teynampet. So, imagine we had to travel to Adyar from Teynampet, he would first direct us to go to Nungambakkam and then from there would tell us the route to Adyar. And, believe me, he would do the same every time.

Why this story now, you ask. Well.. We are almost the same too. We touch Madras every time we travel somewhere. So, our Tirupati travel this time too had Madras as the via point. Of course, we have tons of stories from the place, so what if it was a only via point! Like, some wise person said, ‘Chennai is city; Madras is an emotion!’

The husband, as soon as we decided to go to Madras was determined to have the famous 2nd Beach Lane Burmese Atho noodles. So, as soon as we went to Madras, we left our children in the care of in-laws and headed in the electric train to Beach. It has been ages since I traveled by the locals in Madras. Because it was evening peak hour time, the husband bought a first class ticket. I almost fell off my seat when I saw that a ticket from Kodambakkam to Beach costs forty-five bucks. I mean, where did all the six and eight rupees tickets go? I am definitely getting old. Scary!

Once, we got down at the Beach station, we began walking into Burma Bazaar. What? It was Burma day; for us, that is. Again, it was ages since I walked through this section of shops. Mobile phones, CDs, belts, foreign chocolates, dry fruits, cell phone covers, CD players, Television sets, toys, clothes.. you name it and you get it, there. Most of them made in China. We bought a few CDs, two cooling glasses for our kids which were so fickle that we were scared if they would last until we got back home, a Thomas train and some building blocks. You can take us out of our kids, but you can’t take the kids out of us. Sigh.

Finally, we stepped out of the bazaar and walked across Parrys Corner. Armenian Street, Linghi Chetty Street, Mannady street.. It brought back so many memories of going along with my mom to these places when she was posted there. The roads are cramped like no where else. There are streets designated for various items. For instance, Linghi Chetty Street has only hardware stores. Mannady street has mostly clothes and apparel stores. There are still some ancient British-built buildings which look like they might collapse anytime; and yet, there is business carried on there. Women are scantly seen in and around there. As I walked, people looked at me as if I was from another planet. I had to check myself if I was looking okay; many-a-time.

Finally, we reached our destination to savour our intended food; Burmese aatho noodles. We found a few roadside eat-outs selling the same food and stopped in front of one which looked okay. More importantly, there was a woman standing and eating there which made me stop in that particular place. We asked for one egg noodles and two masala boiled eggs. As we were digging into the hot and spicy noodles, we kept wondering how we missed this place growing up. May be, these shops had just sprung up, the husband reasoned. Once, we were done, the guy out there offered us a vazhai thandu soup. Again, no words to describe how it tasted. The husband was hell bent on having one more serving but I had to stop him ‘cos of the travel we had the next day. Sigh.

No tables; no chairs. All I can remember of the ambiance is the van standing with piping hot noodles and other food assortment, a few people like us standing and savouring the food, some others packing up the food and a couple of stray dogs roaming around on the road. But, this was one of the best foods I’ve ever tasted in my life. All for 60 bucks. The soup they served was complimentary, apparently. I’d love to go back to the place some time again. Food heaven!

So, what were the kids doing in Madras, you ask? Playing with the grand parents’ iPad. Going to the nearby park and digging into the sand. Having a full Cassatta each, despite my protests. Running behind crows. Scaring dogs. Being fed. Dressing up like for a marriage with pattu pavaadi and a dozen bangles on each hand. Getting mehendi done from paati and showing it off to all and sundry. Plucking the rose in the plant and insisting on keeping it on her head. Jumping on kollu-paati’s stomach. Playing hide and seek with mama. Sticking like a gum to thatha. Bathing with paati. Forgetting that there is a school back home, which need to be attended.

And, now we are back to square one pushing ourselves back to the grind. Who cares, anyway. Weekend is here already. Yay!

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