1. Lufthansa has improved by leaps and bounds. I always liked their no-nonsense approach to flying - they never miss baggage, they don't get delayed and are quite the epitome of the German efficiency. The only crib I had with them - the Haider Ali-kaalaththu planes have been discarded for newer ones with personal entertainment systems. A cool addition. The food is, as usual, quite good. But the major fun was while I was on my Frankfurt to Chennai leg, I had a desoid (tam) guy who by his looks was a typical onsite software engineer from the W/I/T/C/H companies - he was blatantly and pathetically trying to flirt with the Indian stewardess - I tried to drown myself in sleep (which was how I managed the 26 hour journey) but that frickking guy kept passing 'clever' and 'funny' remarks that I asked for a seat change - thankfully ended up with an empty row of seats where I kattai neetified and slept. :)
2. This might sound cliched - But I had a major reverse culture shock in India. Makkal were hip, had money to scatter on the roads and I was seeing BMW 7-Series car with scratches and bent fenders! The prices of clothes, books, auto fares and groceries have doubled/tripled from my 2007 experience. Sometimes I felt that if I worked in India at the same level as I'm right now, I might be called a poor guy. Makkal were flaunting 25k cell phones just like that and the respect for money (especially for the poor old Rs. 100 note) was floundering.
3. Inox Theater in Chennai is a rip-off. The theater has an odd smell of sweat and butter popcorn. The sound system was the only saving grace. Coke cans cost in 60s and pop corn packs cost close to 100 upwards. And all this for a Wednesday 12.00 noon show. I saw that Friday evening shows costing 360 per head for the latest releases!
4. Spencer's Plaza has passed its days of splendor and opulence. Its now a mere shadow of its former self. Landmark is the only place which will not test your perspiration limits. I do not know if it is me, but I think Landmark has kind of given up on their Nungambakkam High Road store in terms of improving looks and space. The Landmark stores in Spencer and City Center were much better maintained and spacious.
5. Interesting observation at Landmark: Maximum 'youth' crowd were seen around the magazine section, leafing through the Maxim kinda mags seeing Bommai :P
6. Besant Nagar beach has become 'galeej' much like Marina. But it presents a stark picture of contrast - you have on one side, places like Barista with its youth crowd, varuthufying kadalai over a cup of some version of coffee while on the other side of the road you have the typical thalai ku mele duppata 'couples' doing romaans! PDA (Public Display of Affection) in Chennai has reached new levels from my last trip. I saw a couple in CCD (location not important) almost fornicating inside the premises over a cup of coffee.Now I know why they have couch style seating in those places and some (convenient?) dark corners.
7. The dressing sense of youth crowd in Chennai still beats my limited common sense/rational-ness. While I was profusely sweating with just a normal t-shirt on, I saw makkal wearing one t-shirt and another shirt on top in such a way that the t-shirt made up for the sleeves and torso while the shirt was more like a jacket kinds. I sweated a few liters more just by looking at those makkal. But curiously enough, makkal have still not given up on the crotch-lock trousers. The trousers that male makkal wear might make female population in US envious. The good thing to note was that stupid wearing your trousers half way down the legs (which I believe was a direct influence of hip hop videos) seems to have passed.
8. The Chennai Super Kings Jersey at the Reebok Showrooms costs Rs. 700 and Rs. 1999! The difference between the two priced shirts seems to be that the one priced higher has the letters 'D', 'O', 'N', 'H' and 'I' printed not necessarily in that order and Number 7 on it. I think I should be getting the job who is doing that spray painting of the number and letters. If 6 letters are worth 1300, then I think I have a good business plan to buy my dream Ferrari.
9. CNN-IBN is now exactly Indian version of CNN. Paisa peraadha vishayangal are given out as news. Amrita Arora having a fab bod after marriage is discussed at 8am on the news. Some other maida maavu indee shaniyan actor comes to talk about his designer line and all that crap.
10. Chennai airport now has international power outlets and free Wi-Fi. Lufthansa had a rare slip up on my return trip and I ended up spending 3 quality hours at Chennai between 12.00am and 4.45am and the internet helped me catch up on emails and do all the internet-y activities.
11. Courtesy, Jaya TV, Enge Brahmnan is now a big phenomenon in Chennai. I heard Cho Ramasamy now comes on TV and blatantly claims Brahminical Superiority. While I do not exactly support this kinda 'jaadhi' pracharam, I feel that the amount of shit that tam brahms go through from the Kazhaga Kanmanigal, this is an expected and late-arrival of a retaliation. Gone are the days of Tam Brahm! Thank You Ma'm logic.
P.S: Met up with Nirmal, who gave me more insights into the changes described above. He seems to have a balanced head and I do not think 4 years of working life has changed him one bit from the nice guy I knew in SVCE.