A thriving fusion of people, traffic, business, humidity and pollution makes the city of Chennai. A city that gets its character from a remarkable synthesis of tradition and technology, reflected in the life and energy it exudes.
As you step onto the streets with striking colonial names, taking in the smells of brewing tea, sewage, ground coffee, camphor, jasmine flowers, and hair oil, it’s easy to understand why this city is a cultural cocktail of sorts. And there’s always the excitement of bumping into an important piece of history, just around the bend of the road.
Nickname: People in business often refer to Chennai as the “Detroit of India” given the fact that many automobile majors such as Hyundai have their manufacturing facilities located here.
The Highway To Swades team decided to begin the drive in Chennai as the team’s three members resided there. As simple as that!
But in hindsight it was the best decision. Being an old port town, the multiple layers of India’s classical past continue to co-exists with its different waves of influences.
If there are deeply traditional Tamil Hindus, then there are significant impression left behind by the British and the 21st century technology and manufacturing establishments are visible too.
In essence Chennai is where multiple identities of India from different periods of history are still visible and so are the multiple ideas of India.
Chennai can appear to many Indians from the north of the country as a city that is most foreign from at least the language perspective.
The Tamil love for their language is legendary and their hesitation to learn Hindi infamously famous across India. And yet if you spoke English you will have a better chance at navigating through the ever changing lanes and neighbourhoods of Chennai. The name changed only a few years ago from Madras, as the British would call it, even though they acquired two pieces of land in Fort St George, near the Chennapattanam fishing village.
The legacy of the British is kept alive in many monuments and buildings in the city even today, and in institutions such as the Madras boat club, the Madras cricket club and of course most importantly the Madras Regiment of the Indian Army, the first Regiment of the army ever!
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Discovering The Birthplace of Christianity in India
At some point of time in our lives, all of us would have seen Christians from various sects praying in local churches, and going to Sunday mass. Most of us also have Christian friends, we celebrate Christmas, and take the day off on Good Friday, and look forward to Easter Sunday. But have we paused to think about the origins of Christianity in India, and contemplated on Christian culture and beliefs? The Highway to Swades team did pause, in Chennai, and were surprised with what we discovered!