CHENNAI: A faint, almost-full moon is still visible in the sky when I reach the Kapaleeshwarar temple tank. It’s 5.30 and but for the one man setting up his newspaper stall, there’re not many souls awake on this side of Mylapore.
I walk toward the distant sounds of the temple bells, braving the chilly sea breeze. Joining a few brisk-walking devotees at one of the back entrance gates, I make my way around the temple, the rising sun gradually warming the senses, and by the time I reach where I started, the world is not bathed in pale blue anymore but is a pinkish-orange tone.
Dawn has arrived. Sipping some hot elakaai chai from a mobile tea vendor outside, I witness the awakening of Mylapore, one of the most culturally-rich hubs in Chennai. At the front entrance of the temple, poo maalai vendors are setting up shop, discarding yesterday’s now-decayed produce, bees buzzing all around the place.
Cycle-rickshaws ‘tring tring’ around, and dogs and cats playfully push a cardboard box into the temple tank, curiously watching as it bobs in the water.
Ducks preen themselves before standing on one foot, hiding the beak inside their feathers and dozing off. Poojaris stand around, sipping tea, before walking off to work, way earlier than everyone else.
Vegetable and fruit produce arrive in mini-vans, decked into neat colourful piles ready for customers. It feels like time has stood still in this tiny part of the city — retaining an old-world charm; I even spotted a milk-vendor, selling fresh cow’s milk from aluminium cans just like in olden times! (You can find him near the Kalathi newsmart.
Rs 50 a litre). Chaos slips in gradually by 7.30, traffic battles with pedestrians and school kids, shuttling past the colourful locked street-stalls on North Mada Street. The day has just begun...