Lockdown Gyan: Why moving to Chennai was the best decision my Father ever made!

My Father Srinivas Gowtham Mannava was born in Baapatla and studied in Guntur (near Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh). He was into stage acting during his childhood and had moved around all of Andhra Pradesh in his capacity as a stage actor. This did not affect his schooling or college.

He got into Mechanical Engineering in a college in Mysore. This was Karnataka. So now he knew Kannada other than Telugu which was his mother tongue. He was quite hardworking because he was not naturally gifted. He had to work hard to clear all exams. He had a knack for engineering drawing.

So I was wondering why he did not choose Bengaluru as his destination to apply for a job post his Engineering degree, or why he did not return to Hyderabad/ Vijayawada to take his career forward. He chose CHENNAI! And that changed everything. At least for me and my brother!

My brother and I were born in Visakhapatnam. That’s because my mom’s parents were put up in Visakhapatnam. That’s all.

Imagine if my brother and I were raised in Visakhapatnam we would be clumsy telugu youth (no offense to Telugu youth, I mean such bad dressing sense and such gaudy home paints?). Probably my brother would have started a hero fan club(which he still can, I have no idea why he hasn’t), given his inclination to movies and I would have settled down for a job at Vizag steel plant or some nationalized bank. Both our brothers would be married with two sons/ daughers and thinking about which junior college to seek admission.

Thankfully, my father chose to move to Chennai. Maybe because he got a job there! Also maybe because my father got mugged while he was in college in Mysore. He explains how he got scared of the muggers in great detail and that how he handed over all his money to them. This may have had an impression on him about Kannadigas. I am not blaming all Kannadigas here, I loved Lucia, K.G.F and cursed myself why I didn’t know Kannada. I guess we are digressing from the point here. The point is CHENNAI!

Chennai / Madras is an amazing place to raise a family (Anyone can live in Chennai, with 5 rupees or 5 lakhs). My parents, both Telugu all their life, learnt Tamil so soon. For instance, if anyone breaks traffic rules, my father used to abuse him in Tamil (Madaiyaa) .. means Idiot!

Now focussing on the header of this blog! Why moving to Chennai was the best decision my Father ever made!

I mean come on! Illayaraja! Need I say more? Ok if you want me to elaborate I shall.

Illayaraja is the God of Indian music! Mozart and Beethoven (if alive) would have thanked him for making such memorable film songs. There is an Illayaraja song for every emotion, every function, every aspect of everyone’s life.

Imagine, if my Father had chosen to stay back in Visakhapatnam, starting from Thalapathi and Guna, my brother and I had to listen to all mind-blowing songs and movie dialogues in dubbing telugu! “En Deva ve koonutiye daa!!” .. “Nanban naa enna nu theriyuma unnaku, Suriya na enna nu theriyuama unnaku?” … “Abhiraami Abhiraami … ” . All the way from legendary 90’s movies and dialogues and songs down to Vaigai Puyal Vadivelu jokes! Most of my Telugu and Kannada brothers and sisters have no idea who Vadivelu is and how his humour makes you laugh over every situation in life, including mugging, losing a job or getting thrashed by your wife. Trust me, I know hindi, I have watched major Bollywood movies too.. no comedian can beat him.

And the whole world knows about A.R.Rahman. All his tamil classics were worthy enough to be enjoyed in their natural language and not dubbed language. Mani Ratnam tried his hands in other language but was not as successful too. That does not mean he was any lesser genius than some of the Hollywood filmmakers!

Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth! No more words to explain. Some of my work colleagues in Gurugram used to and still call me THALAIVA! All thanks to my one decision my Father made during his 20s! Had he, for one second thought he didn’t like the language or the culture, my brother and I would never proudly told our cousins that we knew TAMIL!

Tamil is such an addictive language and culture that even when you are commuting to school, you would read Thiruvalluvar in the buses! 2 lines like Kabir doha. Its just 2 lines but those 2 lines had a deep meaning. Those 2 lines make you a responsible human being all your life. The least expected from you is to understand Tamil scripture and understand what Thiruvalluvar is trying to say.

Tamil politicians are the last thing anyone wants to discuss. But, Amma canteen is a model for the whole country when it comes to filling poor man’s stomach! One plate idli in Gurugram costs 75 bucks, whereas in Amma Canteen it costs 2 rupees! See that’s what I am talking about.

My father may have made a lot of mistakes like a lot of fathers, but moving to CHENNAI was one thing he did right!

And last but not the least! I made amazing friends here in Gurugram just because I was from Chennai. Can you beat that! At first Sanjay (a Sindhi from Chennai) asked me where I was from in Soi7 (a popular pub in Gurugram during 2015-2017). When I told him I was from Chennai, he was so happy. No literally, he was so happy as if he found moksha! I am not kidding. Then I met Binoy who was from Kerala but brought up in Thiruvanmayur, Chennai! That’s all, my gang in Gurugram was set! We used to speak in a Language (Tamil) which no one understood in Gurugram. What else would one ask during a pub outing?

Chennai also has Marina Beach! (no more words)

–Varun Gowtham Mannava


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