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.
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.