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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mansions of Madras - Where Dreams Come True

If there is an award for the maximum number of people per square metre, Chennai’s Ranganathan Street would come out on tops. The various mansions that dot Chennai would come a close second (That was a bad attempt at cracking a joke). It’s simply amazing how such small rooms can accommodate 4 – 6 people. Triplicane is generally considered a hub for mansions. During the last few years, such mansions have also mushroomed in other parts of Chennai. Such mansions are usually characterized by the excessive number of bikes and cycles that are parked outside and the lungi-clad bachelors who usually prefer to stand outside to enjoy the fresh air and the scenery :-)

Lot of builders flout government norms to build such mansions. The water problem might have reduced a bit now, but when water scarcity was rampant, there was some kind of regulation on the type of apartment complex that could be built in a particular locality / street. The restriction was mainly from the angle of the water and drainage problems such densely populated residential development causes. Knowing well that getting an approval for a mansion would be difficult, the builders would classify the property under some other category to get all the approvals.

Kavitha Muralidharan of The Week provides a peek into mansion life and terms the mansion as a bachelor’s best friend:

The other Thiruvallikeni would put the first one to shame. Its congested streets, crowded mansions and petty shops would dissuade anyone from stepping in. Yet, it is this Thiruvallikeni that is a constant source of comfort and hope to hundreds of youngsters who come to the city in search of better prospects.

Penniless and clueless about their future, the youngsters find warmth in 100-odd mansions, each mansion of which have hundred rooms fit for twin-sharing. Each mansions would house more than 200 youngsters who are either on small jobs or on a look out for one. In a city where house rents are sky-rocketing, a room is affordable-between Rs 500 and Rs 1,500 a month. The advance, too, is low. For an outsider, life in a mansion could seem pathetic. Living in a dingy room which has just enough space for a cot and having to pay for everything including drinking water could be one hell of a thing. For those who live there it is a valuable experience.


  • The movie "Kaadhal" gave a nice peek into these mansions.
    Any other movie that comes to mind?
    I remember reading that many popular directors and story-writers of today came from some of these mansions.


    By Blogger rajesh, at 12:49 AM  

  • Though I have not been in one, I had a glimse at the life in Triplicane mansions when some of my friends were there while searching for a job.
    Its a real tough place to be during the Chennai summer days, the mansions are constructed so close to each other that if you open your window it might over look in to some one else's room. Only driving factor to stay in these mansions are Friends.

    By Blogger KK, at 3:07 AM  

  • I cherish the time I spend in mansions in Triplicane. 3 of us shared a room in which u can hardly put 3 beds. As u told that was the time I was looking out for my first job. Life in mansion was "rich" with hope and "poor" with resources.

    By Blogger Brijesh, at 10:11 AM  

  • @Raapi,
    I also remember only Kaadhal as it was a recent movie. It's true that lot of film aspirants stay in such mansions.

    I can relate to what you are saying. It would almost look as it one mansion is touching the adjacent building. Further, most of them don't have enough parking space. That's why u see vehicles parked outside.

    glad to hear your story. thanks for dropping by.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 10:30 AM  

  • true man,... u pple lucky to have homes in chennai.. and also you get really frustrated, with all the drab food, sharing infrastructure, stolen underwear, and worse, you have to wash your own clothes...
    and your mother wont be around cooking for you... two years in chennai, and now, whenever i go home, i jus love everything that mum makes, and avoid hotel food as much as possible....

    By Anonymous jaleel, at 10:58 AM  

  • I can't live like that..paying for water.!! God I can't even have a comfortable shower/bath!

    Me - a house surrounded by garden, lots of trees, flowers.!

    By Blogger Narayanan Venkitu, at 1:52 PM  

  • didnt even know about mansions till 'kaadhal'. but does look like that film reflected mansion life quite accurately...

    By Blogger Balaji, at 2:20 PM  

  • These days every part of TNagar is crowded. Theres a recently opened Saravana Stores next to Pothys in TNagar and i always see the shop crowded. And speaking about mansions, ofcourse Kadhal gave a deep look into it.It was really amazing, rather sad, to see hw bachelors spend their life in such places.

    By Blogger Prasanna, at 4:40 PM  

  • The soiled clothes hanging on lines inside the room,posters adorning the wall and the wait outside the toilet especially in the morning also characterise these mansions. I have never lived in one but paint this imagery having seen the movie 'Kadhal'. It is not easy I suppose living in such conditions. Is squalor a strong word to describe it ?

    By Anonymous Anand Srini, at 5:59 PM  

  • 4-5 people in a room is not that out of the ordinary...and if you think chennai (or the area you mentioned) has the most people per square inch...come to Bombay :) You'll learn what jampacked means here. Oh, and room rentals here are around 30,000 per month.

    Musings that Amuse
    Think Dull

    By Blogger IndianArchie, at 3:42 AM  

  • @Venkitu,
    We are talking of Chennai...so water will be at a premium

    where did u grow. there are lot of them in other localities as well.

    t nagar in general and panagal park in particular has been like this for a long time. i hope somebody does something about it.

    @Anand Srini,
    Your narration is apt. it might be difficult to visualize such a life, but it has its own style :-). On a more serious note, mansions provide affordable housing for students and people who visit chennai to search for jobs (especially in the creative industries).

    @Indian Archie,
    Thanks for dropping by. I can very well imagine the situation in Mumbai.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 4:40 PM  

  • Hai!I Remember those good old days in triplicane where one has to stand in long que to get a token from sydoji's mess near pycrofts road.No doubt the dishes were so homelyand delicious!However worse the conditions one cannot over look the the nice exp of your friends for sharing your talents,apreciations and our intellect grew in these rotten areas.

    By Anonymous iyengar, at 7:48 PM  

  • I too vividly remember the delecious and clean food we used to get in Sydogi mess. Does it still exist?

    By Blogger Akash, at 5:34 AM  

  • Sidoji speciality was Small Onion sambar (with an inviting smell a mile away), Tomato Pachadi, Potato curry (crisp on top and soft inside) and sperical papadams.

    By Blogger Akash, at 12:16 PM  

  • My first experience in triplicane was near AMIR MAHAL IN 2000 WHEN I WAS A FRESHER, the second experience was this year when my manager cheaply behaved and moved me out my company owned accomodation,This time it was near ratna cafe, I used to have evening tiffin it was a paradise for veg food lovers of course have seen matches in cheapuk..

    By Blogger vjyanand4u, at 8:03 PM  

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