Category Archives: Madras Week

Madras Memories

Madras to me is a place that brings back nostalgic memories of my younger days that I love to rewind time and again, just to tell myself that this city truly gave its people, peace and unbridled happiness in their daily life that was relatively free from the mad rush and uncalled for tension that is witnessed today. Those magical moments, when I would wake up in the morning to the wafting aroma of piping hot filter coffee, break my fast with steaming hot fluffy hot idlis drenched in sambar. Have time to stand outside the gates of Gemini Studios to catch a glimpse of the filmstars entering the place for their daily shoot and if lucky get a chance to shake hands with them. My next stop-over would be the famous Safire Theatre bus stop – the movie complex that housed – even in those days – three theatres only to check out the movie being screened in Blue Diamond – where one could enter and leave at leisure – and a favourite spot among college students then.

Commuting was not an issue then by bus, auto or taxi. Of course, I vividly remember the occasions when going out to receive a relative at the Central Station or at Egmore railway station alongwith elders in a taxi, I would be forced to duck below the window level to escape being spotted by the hawk –eyed traffic policeman and save the taxi driver from being penalized for carrying more than the permitted number of passengers.

Hunt for books would primarily be confined to the ‘Higginbothams’ – a landmark that is bang opposite to another landmark – the Life Insurance Corporation building – and if that failed, one could confidently go to the Moore Market complex for meeting their requirement.

Evenings were invariably reserved for a stroll on the shores of Marina Beach from Light House to Kannagi statue with a paper cone filled ‘sundal’ in hand and the waves periodically kissing your feet. On week-ends I had the choice of sabhas in T.Nagar or Mylapore to choose from, to watch some play being staged there. So much for pastime at a measly amount that did not pinch your pocket.

Post by: M.S.Vaidyanathan, First Week Winner

The views expressed in the posts and comments of the Madras Week blogs do not reflect the positions or opinions of British Council. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. British Council is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied here.

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Madras to me is…

My Journal:

In February 1986, I remember that as my first trip to Madras, I was in my middle school and was awe-inspired by the city and its massive and impressive icons and its people and its vibrant culture. That was a visit with my family for the purpose of getting blessings from the Pope John Paul – II who on his visit to Chennai addressed a huge gathering in the marina beach. The chennapatnam established over 374 years ago, the city of Madras and currently the city of Chennai is an enticing city with its enthralling attractions to the natives as well as foreigners.

My dad made sure that we visited the other tourist attractions like Vandalur zoo and Valluvar Kottam during that trip. Even though later in my life, I travelled to see even the world famous San Diego zoo in California, the Vandalur zoo has its own special place in my mind!

In mid nineties, I made my second trip to Madras to attend the counseling session in Anna University to do my M.Tech degree there. My next two years, I stayed in the PG Hostel of Anna University and enjoyed getting the taste of living in a metropolitan city. I just loved my college days, the canteen, the hostel, the redbrick buildings of Indo – Saracenic architecture, great friends to hang out with, all along in the carefree spirit of the youth …lovely days in Chennai.

The same year, I met my husband to be @ the Santhome church. It was an arranged marriage and in the dim light of the dusk that evening just outside the church, in the midst of my relatives and his, we took our first look at each other. It was meant to be, to live happily ever after.

In late nineties, I got married and went off to US. When we decided to return back to Incredible India, my husband opted for Chennai. Finally I made my home in Chennai.

To me, Madras has always been a place to celebrate the raga and the nardhana, the carnatic music and the bharathanatyam dance and a food lover’s paradise as well, from the olden days Buharis and woodlands drive in to today’s Junior kuppana. Madras has always been a great place for shopping and entertainment from yesteryears Moore market to today’s modern malls and bookshops such as Higginbothams to today’s Landmark and a stretch of wonderful theatres along the olden days Mount Road to today’s sathyam cinemas…

I love the city because it offers you a myriad of exotic arts and culture and tantalizing cuisine, magnificent heritage and cosmopolitan environment and peace and safety of a haven and wonderful, friendly people and the beautiful but ancient Tamil language, all at the same time with a modern touch as well. And to me, it is a great place because it holds special memories of my youth and today my daughter is creating her own magical memories of the place….!

Post by: Annie Leovalan, Runner Up Winner

The views expressed in the posts and comments of the Madras Week blogs do not reflect the positions or opinions of British Council. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. British Council is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied here.

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Madras to me is…

A large, bustling, overcrowded, hot, but homely city. Thinking of Madras, I visualize a vendor yelling at the top of his hoarse voice selling the “filter coffee”.

Though not a foody myself, I feel Madras stands unique in food, with its melt-in-the-mouth pongal, deep fried vadais, pure, white idlis, and many more delicious delicacies.

Madras is the city of temples, dance, music, beaches and education.

What with its long, wide beaches, and the second longest beach in the world, the seaside certainly forms a popular tourist spot. Madras also plays host to quite a few prestigious universities such as Anna University, IIT and SRM and hence is an educational hub, along with its fine schools.

Traditional temples scattered across the city such as the Marundheeshwarar, Kapaleeshwarar and Parthasarathy temples together form a sacred city filled with God-fearing men.

Whenever the word, “Bharathanatyam” is uttered, a pretty picture of talented dancers, made up in the familiar saree attire with their prominent anklets dancing under a banyan tree is painted in my mind.

Last, but not the least is Chennai’s renowned Carnatic music festival occurs during the Tamil month of Margazhi wherein music enthusiasts from all over the world come to attend performances of this splendid form of music.

But, if you want to get a true taste of this diverse city, the best option is to board the “21L” bus at its starting point, Velachery, and get off at the end, Triplicane. This route takes you through the heart of this grand city so you can experience the sights and smells of Madras yourself. So, hop on a bus!

Post By: Aparna Ram, Runner Up Winner
Student of Sri Sankara Vidyashramam Matriculation Higher Secondary School

The views expressed in the posts and comments of the Madras Week blogs do not reflect the positions or opinions of British Council. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. British Council is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied here.

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Madras to me is…the constant and the change

Madras to me is the people, the culture, the city by itself. Its un paused self, the magic of being at peace in spite of being on a constant run between the rewind and fast forward buttons. Madras gives me independence, peace and security; a sense of being me, the way it keeps me spirited yet rooted.

May be that is why it is still being called “Madras”, in spite of being named Chennai more than a decade ago. The lingering nostalgia is what appeals me the most. I love the fact that I can still go nuts over “filter kappi” at Maami’s mess and can equally yearn for the crunchy frappe at any of the CCDs dotting the city’s urbanscape. Every other day I find a brand new Kumbakkonam degree coffee outlet popping up in the city competing with the mochas and baristas.

The best restaurants in the city offer me chocolate dosas and Mulligatawny soups! I forget myself in the plays of the city’s theatre groups, and forget the world during the Margazhi kutcheries. These happen alongside live concerts playing retros and the endless jazz throughout the nights. The fragrance of the city is still from the Mallipoo shops, though mixed with the scents of the orchids sold alongside by high end florists.

The indo saracenic buildings stand tall alongside boxed and glazed office complexes. I am not taken aback when I see the “vaasals” of glass clad IT buildings donned with “kolams”. Oh yes, it is not just the streets of Mylapore that are decked up with kolams!

The love for jewellery is immortal in Madras, just that these days it just doesn’t offer me the yellow metal. I get my bling for best bargains in the streets of Pondy bazzar, I shop for the Boho chic and hippie looks from the gypsies in Besant Nagar and for classic ethnic temple jewellery from the lanes of Mylapore.

A city that is easy on its routine, invariably gives me new surprises every other day. The constants in the city are the sandy beach, endless summers, and music-be it carnatic or the “kuthu” and gets its varying shades from its simple and modest inhabitants-you can’t fail to fall in love with these men with big moustache, women with long hair for their warmth and hospitality.

Just a small visit to the city will make you fall in love with its people, the culture and their lifestyle. And I can promise you that, you will leave the city, if ever, only with a heavy heart. I am just thankful to the city and its people for I learnt-

LESS IS BORE, IN THE MADRAS I ADORE.
NEED EONS TO EXPLORE, FOR IT IS ALL YOUR.

Post by: Valaikodi

The views expressed in the posts and comments of the Madras Week blogs do not reflect the positions or opinions of British Council. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. British Council is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied here.

 

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Madras to Me is…..

I have conceived this blog as an informal script for a son et lumiere show that appeared in my mind’s eye:

COMMENTARY: The inexorable sweep of TIME swallowing eons, reducing mountains to dust, is moving noisily and pauses at the 19th century as viewed on a meter. The backdrop shifts from large mountains and finally ends at the sea. There now appears an open map of what Madras was then. TIME pauses in front of a large colonial house. In it are seen a British man and wife in period costumes. Over the sound of waves and rain, comes the sound of piano music.

Man’s baritone voice booms: “Nellie, shouldn’t you stop practicing on the piano even as I’m telling you I’ve been transferred to Mandalay?”

Piano music now stops.

Man’s voice continues “My transfer means we would’ve to leave this city of Madras which has been our home 8 years. As a civil engineer I’ve created noble public buildings and designed churches, some of which are still coming up. I’ve done my best to see that my work bears marks of excellence.”

Female voice: “John I’m not exactly pleased with the transfer. I‘ve got accustomed to this city.”
Baritone voice: “Can’t be helped! My superiors decide where I should work. We the British have created excellence in building this city and its infrastructure. We’ve set the pace and I am sure others who follow us would do even better.”

TIME sweeps past noisily crossing the 21st century and pauses at year 2013. Against the backdrop of a wide open large current map of the city of Madras, various citizens of Madras, men and women, cast in colored lights, voice their impressions of Madras:

Female voice: I love this city of Madras particularly its Marina which’s a paean to British efforts to beautify the city.

Male voice: In Madras streets we still have bullock carts hauling goods beside modern 18 wheel behemoths. Hawkers still cry their wares on the streets. Individual fishermen still go to sea on catamarans alongside modern trawlers. Temples and churches celebrate their festivals with traditional pomp and pageantry. Kite flying is popular. Of course there are golf courses! Common people play traditional games using cowries with game patterns drawn on the floor.

Female voice: This city has allowed all systems of medicine to flourish. Yoga is popular and I’m one of its key practitioners.

Female voice: Compulsion for peoples’ movement is creating the metro here, but it’s being blended to the city’s ambience.

Female voice: Culture and spirituality co-exist in my city of Madras. Church bells toll and temple bells chime amidst muezzin’s calls. Varieties of music and dance are performed by people from many parts of the world. The city is cosmopolitan for which I love it.

Male voice: Though my city is being modernized at a frenetic pace, its ambience has remained immutable.

I now add MY voice: Madras to me is a symbiosis of past and present, of tradition and modernity for which I love it. I’ll cherish the heritage that is Madras handed down by the British.
TIME’s sweep now goes past the present and fades out.
END

Post by: S.Govindaraj

The views expressed in the posts and comments of the Madras Week blogs do not reflect the positions or opinions of British Council. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. British Council is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied here.

 

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