Posts Tagged ‘ECR’

Few things make living in Chennai seem consistently worthwhile. Its residents are so eager to camouflage their identities with silly colours and wanton tributes to socio-cultural diversity that nobody really knows what to make of us, Chennaites, anymore. Even product companies with their infinite market researched wisdom and soul-exchanging contracts with Satan can’t seem to figure us out.

Thankfully, a vast coastline, with tiny beaches suckling at its teat, snarling at the city from the outskirts is one of those silver linings that distract us. All the rubbish, the unruly derelicts and the annoying Hare Krishna foreigners quietly fade into the background, giving way to the glory of buttery chicken sandwiches, crumbling architecture, cigarettes, the sea, and good company.

She paints beautifully over my weekend’s canvas…

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About 15 minutes away from the ECR tollgate, there lies a Dhaba that entices more than it delivers. Similar to those picturesque seaside restaurants in Goa, the ambience at ECR Dhaba is arguably more satisfying than the food served. Spread over more than 10 acres at least, it’s an abode for Malay ducks, geese, waterfowl, Persian cats and Emus. Sadly, some of them are not a part of the menu.

Truth be told, a bunch of us went there for one reason and one only – to taste Emu meat and to revel in the fact that a sort of, maybe mildly endangered bird has been forced to sacrifice its life for a greater purpose – our palettes.

Upon reaching there, we darted back and forth, trying to catch a glimpse of everything that was on display. The Persian cats were glorious and they seemed more indifferent than their domesticated comrades. So lackadaisically callous they were amidst our presence that I almost didn’t even consider eating them.

As I walked through gigantic birdcage, I got the chills! For a second, I hallucinated a Hitchcock-like figure shaking his head in disapproval, wondering why so many people think life is reluctant to imitate art when all signs seem to point towards the contrary. That was weird.

The 20 minutes we spent staring at the Emus really cleansed our palettes. I guess most of them assumed that we were about to feed them; that would explain why they gingerly marched towards us, bobbing their heads like ping pong balls.

Needless to say, irony was cruel to the Emus and terribly satisfying for us in a “Me Hunter, You Food” way. At least two of us swore upon our grandmothers’ graves that this was going to be quite unlike anything else.

Five minutes after settling down at our table, we were told that Emus were only served during public holidays. At the point, I almost had the urge to assassinate of someone of importance so that the government might declare the following day as a holiday. The other heartless carnivore amongst us had far more drastic plans. Wearing a sort of expression that beguiled the waiter and our resident communist, he muttered out aloud if we could “have the fucking cats instead.”

Over the next hour, we kept nibbling on crabs, shrimps, chicken, mutton and even the occasional vegetable – which were all decently cooked and reasonably presented. I guess nothing that could distract us from the disappointment of not eating those big, goofy bastards.

I’ll tell this much, Mr and Mrs Emu. We are coming after your family on Gandhi Jayanthi.

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Snapshots of ECR

A bunch of us caught the East Coast Road being vulnerable.

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Alambara again

Sun swims for our viewing pleasure
Sun swims for our viewing pleasure

Prepare and initiate

The preparation for the trip to Alambara backwaters was both necessary and perhaps a tad too long. At about 6 in the evening, Reuben, the HR guy whom insects and people disgust to no extent, and I started recording an Mp3 music compilation. We called it ‘Road Tripping’ and exchanged at least three high-fives before sobriety kicked in and so did the feeling that we were doing something lame.

I brought Iggy Pop, White Stripes, Meat Puppets, King Crimson and others. Reuben was armed and presumably dangerous with Megadeth, Alice In Chains, Pink Floyd, Skid Row and Pearl Jam. But the song, which was almost as crucial as the trip itself was ‘Lie Without A Lover’ by newcomer Robi Dracos Rosa. The guy looks like Ricky Martin and wrote lyrics that didn’t require too much assistance from the brain. The music however shone like a cracked mirror. It was an incredibly catchy pop song, sounding almost futuristic in its recognition of subtle harmonies.

Last week, an accidental viewing of VH1 introduced me to this song. And after the others heard it, it was settled that we needed to take that trip to Alambara.And the rest avoided history by being a culmination of awkward planning and wishful thinking. Yuvraj, the resident chink, was on his way down to our not-so-friendly neighbourhood reporter Gopu’s place and Deepu had already (gleefully too) started initiation of stage two.

Rinse and Repeat

Pass the smoke
Pass the smoke

Coffee was being served haphazardly and just the way we liked it. The apparatuses came out of hiding and so began our hazy journey into the long night. It was 9.30 pm, Yuvraj and Gopu were still missing and the three of us were halfway through the process of passing out of our collective senses.

Several hours later, the three of us moved farther from sobriety; latecomers Yuvraj and Gopu were drunk and excessively smiling respectively.

Kickstarting another memory

It was 3.15 am when we hit the road. We had to fill up petrol and check the air, both of which took more time than what was bearable. It was almost 4.20 am before the ECR highway greeted us with much kindness. The intro bass riffs of ‘Lie Without A Lover’ kickstarted a refreshing drive down memory lane. I previously had found the lyrics to be quite corny but all of sudden the words “Hey these nights are fashioned around you / I guess the path of love is no longer haunting you” seemed rather poignant. Art, I tell you.



I had been to Alambara twice this year. Gopu had accompanied me during the second visit. Yuvraj, Reuben and Deepu were as clueless as bats on sweltering afternoons. Now, where the hell was this place? Wait. Stop. Turn around, man. “Anna, where is Alambara?” “Oh ok, thanks anna”. Take this left. Let it rip, man. We are here!

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