Madras Day is the celebration of — as can be easily deduced from the name — Francis Day, the guy who is said to have founded the city of Chennai.
Before Francis Day arrived here in the 1630s, the whole place was just an undulating terrain of land with no real roads, water connection, traffic signals or other such civic infrastructure, looking exactly like the suburbs beyond Velachery these days.
Anyway, to commemorate Madras Day, which is taken to be as Aug 22, we have come up with a commemorative quiz to find out what it takes to be a true Madrasi. When we made the questions up, we also decided to make up the answers. The point is there are no real wrong or even right answers in this. This is just a multiple choice quiz, which will test you on your idea of this wonderful city of Chennai (named after Chennakesava Perumal) that was previously called Madras (named after the film of Ranjith, the maker of Kabali, the city’s presiding deity). Your choices can uniformly be only ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ or ‘D’ because we say so.
1. When you hear the name Marina what image immediately comes to your mind?
A) The second longest natural beach in the world, probably the number one in terms of beauty, dotted with architecturally beautiful memorials and heritage statues.
B) Hot molaga bajjis, sundal, many fun games on the sand, never-ceasing waves, quiet walks with the family, the rising and setting sun.
C) The maddening traffic jams on Radhakrishnan Salai.
D) Like duh! when you hear Marina the image that immediately comes to mind is Marina. The question is a no-brainer, man.
2) Which food item is quintessentially Chennai’s?
A) Set dosa-vadakari combo that was first introduced by that quaint small restaurant in Saidapet and Chicken-65 that ‘Buhari‘ had in its menu in the 60s.
B) The adai-avial combo at Mylai Karpagambal Mess, Thattu Idli at that small shop in Kilpauk, meals at Annalakshmi, the nandu fry at Sangamam, the kola urundai at Anjappar and the mysurpa at Sri Krishna Sweets.
C) Chennai has food that is quintessential to it? The office cafeteria serves food that is not even quintessentially food.
D) Dude, get a grip on life. No city has food that is unique only to it. Also understand the best Tirunelveli halwa can be had at, well, Madurai. So there!
3) What does Kodambakkam signify to you?
A) It is the capital of Tamil film industry which has seen several superstars like Rajni, Kamal, Mohanlal, Chiranjeevi, Sridevi and Kushboo. Kodambakkam owes its name to ‘Goda bagh‘, a kind of horse stable that the area was said to be famous for.
B) Kodambakkam and its nearby T Nagar areas have wonderful shops and small eateries. I am told that the old Liberty Theatre is no longer there.
C) Being stuck on the narrow Arcot Road for hours on end.
D) Do these things have to signify anything, man? But it kind of sounds funny. The kind of name that you would come up for an imaginary place.
4) Your idea of Rajinikanth?
A) Hah! He is Thalaivar. I dig all those Rajni jokes forwarded on WhatsApp. That lungi dance in Chennai Express was a true, mast tribute.
B) *Whistles* Rajini movie means FDFS. It is a festival out here whenever his films release. We go to his movies with the entire family. The kids just love him, especially his mannerisms. The daughter thinks: ‘ For an old man, he is kind of hot’.
C) We just don’t get this sudden over-the-top adulation. We liked him when we only liked him. But now with everyone seeming to like him, we are a bit confused.
D) As per this quiz, I am supposed to be cynical and smart-Alecy. But heck, this is about Rajini. When he is on screen, it is too much, man. You just can’t miss his presence and spark.
5) What about the Chennai Music season?
A) It is the most unique in the world as 100s of musicians, over a period of a month, perform the most popular art form of the State, Carnatic music. The concerts are jam-packed with people from various walks of life queueing up since morning to listen to the legends that the land so evenly celebrates.
B) Silk saris, jarigai veshtis, Gnanambiga and Mount Mani caterers and musicians performing with their ipads in front. The best celebration of music ever.
C) The last time I was in a concert hall, it was not even a quarter full. And even that crowd had come for the famed keera vadai in the canteen.
D) Huh! You guys have a season for music? Why? I mean is it so bad that it can’t be celebrated any other time?
6) Tell us about North Madras
A) It is the oldest part of the city with the Royapuram Railway station, the oldest in the world, being the most popular landmark. The building carries history and heritage ever so beautifully.
B) There is North Madras?
C) Hmmm. Vaguely remember having been there once for heaven knows what.
D) Gawd, give me a break. North Madras is on the north side of Madras. Is this something to ask?
Now to find out your Madrasiness:
For those who picked ‘A’ for all their answers, it is clear that your idea of Chennai is gleaned through the internet, which is a treasure trove of information that are mostly false. A recent NASA, where many Chennaiites work, research has also confirmed this.
If your answers are ‘B’, you most likely are an NRI with your recent image of Chennai being mostly through quick vacations or hurried holidays, which you take to this place for attending family weddings or some such. On such occasions, everything passes by in a whizz. You may have lived here, your parents/relatives still retain their links to the city, but sorry to break it to you, you are as ignorant of this city as much as you are about your relatives and what exactly you have to call them as.
When your answers are ‘C’, you undoubtedly are a resident of the city going through all the pangs and pressures that come with it. But it could also be a fact that you may want to get away from the city back to where you came from. The point is nobody, like it is the case with most capital cities, belongs here.
For those of you who have picked ‘D’, well you don’t know much about the city. But neither do we who actually live in this city. But you have a cynicism, a sense of humour born out of irritation and an irreverence that can help you get by here. In other words, you have what it takes to be a true Madrasi.