I was at Tirunelveli couple of weeks back and it was great to get connected to my roots. The town hasn't really changed much but there are lot of new things visible across the town. There are many observations which I would like to capture here, but I will restrict myself to the top few:
1. Torrid time with electricity - Lesser said, the better. It is a rude shock to live with no electricity for close to 10 hours everyday. Chennai is much better with only 2 hours of power cut and feels like heaven, for a change!! Everywhere there are inverters and it seems to be a booming business. No doubt, Legrand bought Numeric UPS for Rs800 Crores!!
2. Real Estate prices are on par with the City, if not more - just out of curiosity, I enquired about the ongoing rates at prime locations of Tirunelveli. I have to tightly hold on to my chair when I heard the prices. The price of a "cent" of land in Tirunelveli Junction area where I stayed is Rs7 lakhs. That is, Rs1609/- per sq ft for the city folks. I personally feel that there is a bubble building up in Tier II and Tier III cities real estate prices.
3. Cost of living – one of notions most of us carry is that the cost of living in Tier II cities are much lower than places like Chennai. This is again a mis-conceived notion as I found it to my horror. Everything from auto fares to hotel bills are high. For a 6 km of auto ride, I paid Rs130! A bowl of Navaratna Khorma costs Rs125 at a hotel, which at best can be called a wannabe 2star. So, all the thoughts of retiring in a Tier II cities means you need the same amount of money, may be, little less!
4. Helmets everywhere – one redeeming thing in this whole trip is 100% enforcement to the Helmet rule. Yes, I am not joking. All two-wheeler riders are wearing helmets and when I enquired with the auto-driver, he said it is because of Karunakara Singh. Guess, he is the Commissioner of Police are something. The Police is very strict in enforcing this rule and a spot fine of Rs150 is being levied. Even in Chennai, the capital city, the adherence rate is no more than 50% at best. Just goes on to show, how one sincere Officer can make such a big difference to the society!!