Vada Chennai


“Maybe if we were never distant enough from them, we would’ve seen them with the eyes of an insider, rather than with the eyes of a historian”.
History to a place is important. And it is beautiful. Probably the vintage buildings, ethnic restaurants, antique stores, and brick walled book stores gives us a sense of history and love towards a place.
With the recent release of the cult classic Vada Chennai, the fever had gripped us, which wasn’t surprising. After watching it on the first day itself, our long time wish of a full tank, a long trip along the coast, with the wind stroking our hair, all these collided as our hearts thronged towards Vada Chennai.

There’s a very smooth transition as you drive past the Napier bridge and enter into Madras presidency, the current abode of North Chennai. You witness a paradigm change from a completely modernised South Chennai. As we raced past the breezy beach road, we were greeted with vintage red buildings, soothing to our pupils.

Not wanting to compare it to the south part of the city, but we instantly felt this was the hamlet-tish Chennai we have always dreamed of. We looked at the Madras of early nights, slow days, quiet avenues, and conservative lifestyles. Gradually moving past every single locality, we could witness magnificent blocks of history in every single place allowing ourselves to go back in time.

North Chennai, as even the name gives a sense of classic, is never about malls or flyovers or IMAX theatres. Vintage red buildings, contrasting house colours, hundreds of people, and a huge range of roadside markets. Exuberant youths driving the 80s bullet in the narrow lanes, and 50 year old gentlemen, passionately arguing about the latest flick in the BO, praising how they were portrayed. School girls with their uniforms still on, and boys with Ronaldo tees and torn jeans who had their own set of style complemented the place with street football, and fan made banners of Rajini and Kamal. Adyar Ananda Bhavans and buharis were replaced  with compact yet busy Raj Bhavans, and Pothys and Saravana textiles were replaced by Jothi textiles. Probably, the mixture in the style, the difference in level and the sunset beneath the beautiful line of coloured houses are those which brings out the antique feel.

When we finally reached N4 beach, we sat there for a long time, just getting overwhelmed by the vast sea, the endless trail of ships and rocks. Sitting by the rocks and watching the waves strike them brought a sense of tranquility within us.

The beach for us has always been a place for recreation, and an yearly visit for us with our family. But for them, it was home. There were no plans for the visit, nor any excitement. Hanging out by the beach at dawn with their group of people fell in the place of their routine. The port was filled with people of every age group. Grey haired sets, rogue teens, and families filled up the place. Their connectivity with the sea was divine, and beautiful.

It’s not a cliche that movies have their plot revolving around demolishing the local’s houses and fake promises of jobs. Every city has an identity. An identity which ages for more than 500 years. And it’s absolutely crucial to hold on to your roots, while you, as a society keep evolving. And North Chennai, by not falling prey to construction companies, MNC’s and malls, has always stood firm on maintaining it’s identity. At times, you simply have to admit that there are too many meaningless blocks of bricks in the so called urbanized Chennai. Thank God, one side of Chennai didn’t fall for the trick.

This post is for the Vada Chennai people, who haven’t changed their aesthetics, style of living and their determination to hold on to their prized identity. Because it’s you people, who have never shrugged off the “Madrasi” within you! ❤


Written and Photographed by: Sharada Prasad. V  and Siva Prasad. S, Third year, Electronics and Communication Engineering.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *