Self-Discovery – Part 3

In Chennaigaga

To do something that was unique and useful, that’s how it all began.

Chennaigaga happened to me, rather than the other way around…

As I interviewed inspiring people in my role as a freelance writer, I began to feel the need to do more. I was keen to evolve. I thought about what I could do. I decided to start ‘some’ business. I have always loved t-shirts and spent most of my teenage in them. In fact, the t-shirt was my Go-To garment and I wore only t-shirts and shorts or jeans round the clock, as far as possible back then.

However, I could not find the sense in just making and selling cleverly-captioned t-shirts. I felt that it was an over-crowded market (which it was and is) and there was no great, differentiating factor. So, I let that idea linger in the background. Since I was writing a lot, I thought I could launch my own website which would focus on only positive happenings. There was too much negativity in the news all around and so, I felt this would be a great way to spread positive vibes. I would tell only happy stories and cover people who were ‘everyday heroes’ I thought, feeling inspired by the ‘Everyday Heroes’ section in the Reader’s Digest. I even registered a domain name and spent some good money in designing the home page, but then I stopped short. Who would buy in to this concept, I asked myself? People come alive when there is hot and happening news to discuss whereas celebrating only positive achievements was not going to garner the same level of animation, I felt. I decided that it wouldn’t be commercially viable and so, I dropped that idea too. Some friends and I then got a wild idea to launch a magazine, but I realised soon enough that most of them would be investors / sleeping partners and that most of the work would have to be achieved by me. Besides, running a magazine requires a great deal of effort with other dynamics at play which seemed quite out of our scope. At that point, I felt tired just thinking about it(!) and so, I dialled things down on that concept.

Soon after these failed attempts at possible ventures, while on a vacation abroad, I travelled to a cluster of small islands and they had many souvenirs for sale there on various walkways and streets – they were just all over the place! These souvenirs were simple — t-shirts, mostly white in colour in a thin fabric with just the island or country’s name printed on them and sometimes, a picture of a coconut tree was included! That was it. There were also photo frames made of paper, key chains, fridge magnets, etc.

It got me thinking. Did Namma Chennai have such souvenirs? Sure, we have lovely handicraft emporiums and saree shops, but did we have regular souvenirs like t-shirts and magnets and mugs like the ones you get all over the world? Moreover, we have SO much to boast of in Chennai as a city, and India as a country. Not just a beach and a coconut tree but Chennai has serious history and great traditions, culture, cuisine, the arts, people and what not. When I got back to Chennai, I visited some shops and spots to see if there was a satisfactory Chennai-Souvenir offering. There was not. And that is why Chennaigaga was created. I have been the mainstay of this brand since its conceptualisation in 2009 and it’s been quite a ride. I’m still hanging on (for dear life, it seems sometimes!) and looking forward to a much longer and even more fulfilling journey ahead.

Join me by following Chennaigaga on Instagram and do visit

Chennaigaga is very Chennai, quirky and relatable, for all those who love Chennai or want to get to know Chennai.  

The above is a peek into the collection at Chennaigaga.

Chennaigaga is where you Go Gaga over Chennai!

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