Modern Chennai in the Eyes of Charles Dickens – Hannah Hayworth

Hannah Heyworth is a year-long exchange student to India from the US on the YES Abroad Scholarship Program. She lives in Chennai, and attends Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan School in Nungambakkum. She has just completed her eighth month inIndia.


It was the best of places, it was the worst of places,

It was a city, a metropolis difficult to constrain to rhymes,

It was a shining example, it was subpar at best,

Poverty, shouting, pollution, crowds, but lest

I forget! Also the peace and tolerance of a diverse people,

Where in one direction is a mosque, temple, and steeple.

An unforgiving climate, and an abundance of dust,

But where to sample the local cuisine is a must,

A historic language curving over tacky neon signs,

Yet carved as well into ancient ruins in poetic lines,

A history of colonialism, exploitation, and trade,

But where the colorful traditions shall never fade.

A conservative place, where time runs slower,

But do not assume a place where any development is lower,

A quiet, bustling place, an old-fashioned and modern place,

A place where ancestral homes and condos fill adjoining space,

This bundle of contradictions, my friend, this tumble of culture,

Is no decaying town circled by desertion and abandonment- those vultures!

This is a city, reborn a thousand times with only improvements.

This, my friend, is Chennai.

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