An evening at the Marina Beach

There are times I miss Cha Bar. The amazingly wonderful quaint little bookshop that had a wonderful cafe and allows you to keep reading to your heart's content. This time around, I had a book in hand. But didn't have a place to read. Car? No. Office, definitely not on a Sunday. Amethyst? Thought about it and almost decided to go there when a friend suggested the Marina Beach.

In the recent years, I've not used Marina beach as much as a good Chennaite should. I don't go there running anymore, I don't go there in the evenings and honestly, I guess, I've forgotten Marina. What else can explain me wondering where to go to spend some alone time reading a book and Marina had to be prompted for me to even consider it? Shame on me! Shame on calling myself a Chennaite!

So I landed. Sunday evening is like a open house with individual family parties. Was very lucky to find a place to park my car. And the food scene was inviting. Marina used to be the place which had only 'Sundal' while Elliot's Beach was the happening place. Not anymore. Marina has transformed! And gotten dirtier in the process, but livelier.

So, started off with a 'sandwitch.' Nice simple roadside style. Rs. 30. And to wash down the spice, I had to get a drink that is almost synonymous with Chennai, the sugarcane juice. This one was spiced with 'Lamon,' ginger and something else. While the spellings amused me, a shoe wearing, camera and book holding guy snapping pictures amused the vendors. In the age of the selfies, I asked them why they were amused with somebody shooting pictures. I was right. The book is what amused them. And the vendors gladly posed for photos. "Padikaravanga beach ku varamaatanga saar.' Loosely translates to 'those who study do not come to the beach.' 'Study' and 'Read' are not really differentiated in their world, I guess.

So after the 15 bucks sugarcane juice with lamon, I ventured to a 'Bombay Chat House.' Having recently explored the street food of Bombay, I knew this was not even close. "Appadi potta dhan saar makkal varango." Only if you put those names, people come to the stalls. Hmmm....So I had the puri channa, Chennai answer to a fusion of pani puri, channa puri and other stuff. Pani puri sized puris, loaded with a very runny gravy and topped with a pasty channa mix. And condiments added to the top. At 30 bucks, this was slurp. How can I not have the sundal? This is the only food that brought back a flood of childhood memories. My grand dad used to take us to the beach as kids and we used to play with frisbee and cars and what not. But being a hotelier, he NEVER allowed us to eat the 'sundal.' NEVER. Inspite of having awesome cutlets and other stuff to eat, I used to look the one dish that I couldn't have - the sundal. The first time I ate it was when I went to the beach while I was in college! (During college hours or after college hours, is NOT the point of discussion here. 10 bucks for paper cone of sundial with raw mango topping! Bajji. Wow! A plate of 'mix' which has potato, onion and raw banana! Slurp. A mango duet ice cream from Kwality Walls and I was done.

Oh. Just in case you were wondering, I did read 20 pages of the book under the lights near the skating rink sitting on a bench!