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Solving a Collage

Chennai is a collage. It's like a brainchild of a silly kid cutting out buildings and streets from novels and magazines of eras bygone and pasting them down precariously. If you linger for a moment longer, you might as well decipher where the state-of-the-art buildings are cut out from. So I set out for a game of treasure hunt, the treasure is the view and game is to find the clue.


Answers and Clues:

Perhaps the game of light made on the floor of Senate House is recreate the wonder which dawned on Alice as she went tumbling down the hole.


Mylapore streets (madas) allure us with their agraharam's beauty, only to abruptly fling us into a jungle of concrete buildings, like a well planned labyrinth. Don't step nor miss the kolams.


In T Nagar, when you are being slid by the momentum of the crowd, be sure not to blink. Take in everything, all the sights, the cheese sellers to the watch sellers to jewellery sellers to the shoes sellers to the clothes sellers. A Diagon Alley in all true essence, a wonderland where you get everything you will ever need and want for your existence.


When you are at Broadway, an unkempt twin of Pantheon from Rome awaits your look of surprise, just sitting there watching you. If your memory serves you well, you might get a memory flash of Roger Stonehouse's 'Punk and Monk' photo.


Chintadripet has made spies of buildings. Only in disguise though, dressed in local attire strewed all around, with a jaali here and a madras roof there.




The strangeness at your fingertips, much like a friendly ambush by 'iota' in math, as you run them along the Marina Lighthouse is corners, unlike the conventional cylinder, it's a cuboidal lighthouse!


Marina beach may have real-time couples but Bessy has a time capsule dressed in white, kissed all over with initials of long gone lovers.


You will find homes and shops stacked on top of one another and squeezed into each other at Mint street, all well balanced like a gulp of almond milk after a bite of muruku sandwich.


Luz Church sunbathing at noon is quite a sight. The blue and the white reserved only for the aura of Santorini is such a big dollop of quirkiness in its backdrop, much like the child with a mohawk in the family portrait.


Higginbothams is a secret arcade for ones with a vivid imagination with a life size checkerboard; all you need to do is climb up the stairs.


MLS is like an envelope, stamped a few too many times with its logo all around, sheltering levitating books in rows. You'll want to tilt a book by its spine to see if a door opens nearby.


Be sure to only tip toe into Theosophical Society, trust me. There's a beautiful harmony played out by the nature thriving in peace around and about the churches and the temples, and you are only the audience




Chennai is the definition of borderline genius and crazy. There's a slow sway from one to the other, you will recognize that it's a perfect juxtaposition of colonial architecture and gopurams, a juxtaposition of coloured lego houses of the poor and the monotone abodes of the rich, a juxtaposition of its people and their cultures, but only if you spend enough time with the clues and the answers. All of them are in perfect balance, like the pole in the hand of the tightrope walker.



About the Author:

Divya Shaji enjoys physics and literature and is eternally indebted to Chennai for serving sambhar sadham.

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