I landed here with a head full of dreams and aspirations. I remember being overcome with an overwhelming sensation of awe, the moment I stepped off the train. A cold wind, uncharacteristic of this place blew towards me, enveloping me in a loving embrace. To me, it felt like being received by a lovely hostess with all happiness, with an assurance that I will be taken good care of and wishing with all her heart I have a wonderful and memorable stay in her beautiful place. I knew at that moment, this new place was going to be my new home. Chennai, a loving home away from home.
It was Mar 31st 2013 when I made my humble entry into this beautiful port town. I came here fresh out of campus as a new bred IIM, wanting to make a mark in her career. Like every student just out of college who just donned a corporate hat, I was over enthusiastic about my new job and was dying to prove myself to the outside world. Little did I realize then, that Chennai would soon inspire me to do a lot more than what I thought I came here for.
It did not take me long to fall in love with this charming place, for once my first impression did not deceive me. Be it the rapid quick mrts transportation system which took me to work in a matter of few minutes, or the calming effects the nearby temples had on me, or the sense of peace immediately felt near the sun kissed shores of Bay of Bengal or the readily available fluffy idlis and the mouth watering sambhar, Chennai had me hooked, in no time!
If all of that was not enough, I was soon introduced to an art center -where I was given a sneak peek into various forms of artistry like sculpting, Tanjore painting, pottery, canvas painting etc. – which to my pleasant surprise was just a few blocks away from my house. After some months of feeding my soul with various learnings in art, I went on to explore more things that Chennai had in store for me.
One such exploration landed me among a talkative bunch at Adyar Gandhi Nagar Club. “We are toastmasters, we are all passionate about public speaking”, I was told. I was prepared for some sort of unnerving experience by being made to listen to some literary renditions by star orators. Toastmaster meeting, instead was nothing like how I imagined it to be, it was even better. First of, I was awed by the simplicity of the whole process. Secondly, it was good to notice due consideration being given to every speaker and the audience being immensely supportive, applauding the speakers every now and then and by being their gregarious best throughout. It goes without saying that meeting room exuded positivity from all angles. I came to understand that at toastmasters, everyone comes to enthusiastically learn and everyone believes they always have scope for more learning. Be it a college going kid, getting herself ready for the corporate world, or the retired professor wanting to share his wisdom with everyone willing to listen or the middle aged Vice President of a top notch organization wanting to further improve his presentation skills – Toastmasters has them all! Soon I became a toastmaster myself and it was here I made some of the best friends for life.
To add to that, about a year back, my personal trainer in the gym suggested I take part in the 10km race in the upcoming Dream Runners Half Marathon(DRHM) 2014. I scoffed at him for trying to get me delusional, only to land in Bessant Nagar the next day for the training sessions. My ultra zealous nature made sure I miss my sleep and turn up for the training. But surprisingly I seemed to have no regrets about it anytime now that I look back.
At toastmasters I interacted with many a leader in the making, while at running clubs I saw leaders of all walks of life displaying what leadership is made of. The sheer grit and determination exhibited in breaking hurdles after hurdles was nothing short of mind blowing.
As a consequence of all these rich experiences gathered, today, I am a half marathoner, a competent communicator, a writer, a budding artist and a soon to be Consultant. All of which happened during my short stay of 2 years in Chennai. Here is where I learnt a lot about life; met a lot of people, made friends with some, created splendid memories with most, teasured many a beautiful moment and overall had a wonderful stay as assured by the lovely hostess I once imagined Chennai to be.
I came here empty handed but for a few bags, I now take back with me memories of priceless moments and everlasting friendships. It was definitely a journey, worth looking back. Hope one day I come back to live here and have more of my dreams fulfilled. Until then, Goodbye Chennai. Thank you for everything.
Couldn’t think of a better parting image than this collage depicting all that Chennai made me in the little time I spent here.