Chicken or egg?
Coffee or toffee?
Bangalore or Chennai?
Ever since I've come to Chennai, a little less than 2 years ago, I've seen this topic discussed in various places. Blogs, coffee shops, offices. Everyone is trying immeasurably hard to give Chennai the advantage of his/her voice. My friend Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan is the most recent.
Yet in 32 years in Bangalore, I've never encountered a debate on this topic. Chennai just doesn't exist on the Bangalore horizon. It is not even acknowledged as competition. In fact as far as Bangalore is concerned, there is no argument. This tells me that the feeling of not being up there, exists in the minds of Chennaiites more than anybody else. What it still doesn't explain is why the weekend trains are full of young Chennaiites going to Bangalore for a break. And not the other way around. So in defence of Bangalore, I'll say it has more to offer young people than Chennai.
I've lived in Bangalore for 32 years and now in Chennai for the last year and a half. While I love the change and everything that’s uniquely Chennai, there are things I distinctly dislike as well.
I love the love and respect Chennai has for everything to do with art – music, dance, theatre etc. I love the food – 5 chutneys with 2 idlis, a million varieties of mixed rice and so on. I love the beach. I love the old architecture. I love the movies. I love the love for the mother tongue.
I hate the conservatism that's thrust upon the southern metro by self-appointed guardians of moral standards. It shows in the way people are forced to dress, in the way entertainment is viewed, in the way tenants are accepted or rejected based on caste and eating habits, in the chauvinistic ways of some educational institutions (boys and girls are prohibited from interacting, even made to use separate staircases), in the moral policing that happens on the beach and in the double standards that allows men to bare their penises and pee in public.
The moral of the story? Forget Bangalore. Stop trying to prove Chennai’s credentials with comparisons. Stop acknowledging Bangalore as competition. As the harder you try, the harder it’s going to get to compete.