There are some things about Chennai that can never change. The heat and humidity for instance that hit you like a hot blast the moment you step out of the plane. Virtually everything else, though, about the city has undergone a dramatic metamorphosis. Whether for better or for worse is a matter of opinion.
I lived and worked in Chennai—good old Madras back then—from 1980 to 1991 before moving to Delhi as part of The Pioneer launch team. There have been numerous visits back since then—my mother still lives there—but the last was in 1996.
Friends tell me the changes began two years back, both physical—in the shape of numerous malls and flyovers—and social, in terms of attitude and eating habits.
My mother has a theory. She claims the change in name from Bombay (where our family is from originally) to Mumbai turned it from India's cosmopolitan capital to just another big city; conversely, once Madras became Chennai, there was an attitudinal shift in the other direction.