Chennai, My Muse
By: Vibha Batra
It was during the promotions of my last book – a graphic novel titled The Secret Life of Debbie G – that a journalist asked me, ‘Chennai features in all your books. When did it become your muse?’
That got me thinking.
Was it when I first moved to the city and realised it had a character all of its own?
Or when I saw giant cut-outs of politicians and superstars alike?
Or when I prayed for divine intervention at a temple on the shores of a beach?
Was it when I sampled thenga sundal on Marina Beach?
Or when I gobbled down vazhaipoo vadais at a sabha canteen during Margazhi masam?
Or when I witnessed the hypnotic sight of degree kaapi being poured into a cup?
Was it when I lost my way in the winding alleys of Sowcarpet?
Or when I declared ‘Naanum rowdy daan’ in a manner that would have made Vadivelu proud?
Or when I screamed myself hoarse at the first-day-last-show of Superstar’s latest magnum opus?
Was it when I went college-culturals-shopping during the rush hour to Pondy Bazar?
Or when I rode trippies all the way to Cozee on Bessie with my college gang?
Or when I discovered that kanjivarams do, in fact, flatter your frame?
Was it when I hailed an auto and the driver managed to persuade me for ‘just ten rupees extra?
Or was it when I wrote a Hindi stanza for the song Vennilave in Thuppaki?
Or was it when I spoke in Tamil and my friends didn’t roll their eyes at me?
I don’t really know. And it doesn’t really matter. What I do know is that Chennai is a source of inspiration for me. It will continue to make its presence felt in my creative expressions. It will always be my muse.