In 2010, my new job sent me back to Chennai, the city to which I’d bid goodbye a year back. We were four girls travelling from Kerala to join the project. The company arranged accommodation in a service apartment for the first 2 weeks. They served us tasty homemade North Indian breakfast and dinner free of cost. The rooms were very spacious and air-conditioned. A week had gone by.. One day morning, I noticed rashes on my face and neck. My friends suggested I see a doctor. The nearest hospital was Lifeline group and I went to consult a doctor there. He did the diagnosis and informed that it was a type of dengue. He advised me to get admitted as it is characterised by a drop in platelet count. I had no one to come and stay with me overnight except my friends. Without any hesitation, the girls took turns to stay back. 2 nights and 3 days were spent at the hospital. Soon after this nightmare was over, we started the search for a place to stay. The following week, we visited many hostels and PG’s in the city. As the heat was unbearable our only demand was an a/c room. In some of the places that we saw, rats were moving around and the cots looked like berths in train. Only the room rates didn’t go down even though the quality was poor. The owners claimed it was due to the a/c facility.
While our hopes were going down slowly, we found this big house turned into a PG in Adyar. As a bonus, it was run by a Keralite. We didn’t dare to encourage any second thoughts. The house was clean and located in a prime area. It had 3 bedrooms upstairs. The deal we got was, 1 room, 3 bunker beds, 6 people paying 6k pm each. We were to use the bathroom which was upstairs in the terrace. The cook-cum-cleaner Chitra akka made food for all. We could also use the washing machine and microwave oven if needed. In the room, we only mingled with ourselves mostly. We adjusted timings for bath during working days so that we don’t miss the office bus. Many days, I missed the bus or had to run behind it. I was always the last one to wakeup. For breakfast we got dosa, upma or pongal. If it was Pongal, I had cereals or chose to eat in the office canteen. We packed our lunch made by akka, although we dreaded having it on some days. Honestly, the food was a compromise. If the dinner was bad, we ate pizza from a nearby shop or made maggi.
After a few months, the owner informed that soon we would be shifted to a better house near the Besant nagar beach. We went to see the house and immediately fell in love with it. The 3 storeyed property was a good 2 minutes walk from the beach. Another attraction was the N number of eateries around the area. The hotels were aimed to attract the beach crowd. We were over satisfied with the shift. The rent was increased by 500Rs. But we felt it was worth it. We had a huge bathroom attached to our room. Most of the days, I spent the hours post dinner in the terrace. It was so windy up there, the soothing sea breeze.
One girl from our gang resigned and went back to Kerala. Another girl came in her place and luckily the 6 of us got along very well. On weekends, we went shopping and spent evenings by the beach relishing corn/ice cream. I had my space on the top of a bunker bed and so the a/c was too much to bear. While sleeping, I used to hide myself completely beneath a blanket.
We went for strolls, movies and kept on exploring new eat-outs. Gradually we all started liking the city and the freedom we had…the initial hiccups were gone and we enjoyed the independence. At office, we gossiped about others in our mother tongue. We all had our own good and bad days staying there…but now it all seems like a dream. The experiences I had living on my own and managing both money & mind are so precious. Those two years really helped me mould myself to become more bold & strong..If only I could go back in time and take a stroll along the beach…