I remember reading a meme on Facebook that said "Chennai is a city, Madras is an emotion, and Anna Nagar is a separate country". As a child, I had always assumed that this quaint, little neighbourhood that I called home was universally acknowledged as the best part of the city. I didn't really think about Madras past Anna Nagar because I simply never felt the need to; life and home were always here.
Here is a list of the little joys in the place that always makes me smile:
1. The inviting smell of roasted chicken on a grill, expertly shredded and rolled into a shawarma as I walk past Al-Kebabish to go to the local grocery store (where one will inevitably run into an acquaintance and stop for a small chat.)
2. Forcing my friends to stop on walks and pose awkwardly in front of luscious bougainvillaea flowing over walls with the lilac coloured sky in the backdrop.
3. Going to my tailor aunty to get new kalamkari cotton kurtis stitched and buying the yummiest tea cake and milkshake from the bakery below her unit.
4. Listening to the imam do the evening azan just as the sunset becomes pinkish-purple while studying on my terrace, observing others on their terraces going about their day, and wondering what they're thinking about.
5. The canopy of leaves and branches that almost form a roof over the entire locality because of which the sunshine is filtered through the leaves and forms dancing shadows on the streets. (Fun fact: the Japanese word for sunshine falling through leaves is 'kamorebi'.)
6. The ring of the bells of ice cream carts, idiyappam sellers, fruit vendors, and newspaper collectors in the mornings.
7. Walking into a church on a sad day for inner peace and being comforted by the stained glass and architecture of the place.
8. The fact that you will always find a friend in stray puppies and kittens that have been taken in, fed leftover Sunday lunches, and given collars with names and are loved and cared for.
9. Entering Tower park on Sunday evenings and instantly feeling a sense of belonging and nostalgia (I have lots of sweet memories from here but I will always remember the one time a friend wrote everyone's names on the wall of the tower - if you look around carefully, you may find it!)
10. Being a primarily residential community, Anna Nagar during Christmas time is quite underrated; I adore how every alternate home is decorated with multicoloured fairy lights and balconies strung with stars.
11. My best friend, who I grew up with in Anna Nagar, moved halfway across the globe around two years ago. I once woke up to a text message from her saying that she missed the sound of the birds chirping in Anna Nagar. I never really paid attention to it but if you ever pay a visit here, listen to the birds. They often calm your soul.
I've explored different parts of the city and learned to love those as well, but there will always be a big chunk of my heart reserved only for Anna Nagar, no matter where in the world I might be.
About the Author:
Neeraja Srinivasan is a 17-year-old humanities student. She loves anything remotely related to literature, art, research, writing and travelling. One is likely to find her with her nose buried in the pages of a book, at any given point in time. Pretty cotton kurtis & jhimkis, colour-coded spreadsheets, documenting everything using photography, vintage architecture and chocolate mug cakes make her soul happy! You can find more of her musings over on @neeruslists on Instagram.