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(ARCHIVE) Vol. Vol. XVIII No. 12, october 1-15, 2008
Our Readers Write

'Sami' is everywhere

I agree with reader K.V.S. Krishnan (MM, September 16th) that population movement has taken place in very ancient times through South India.

In South India, many people use the word ‘Sámi’ as a suffix in their names indicating a deity’s name. Example: Ramasami, Kandasami, Sivasami, etc. But many people may not be aware that a tribe by name Sámi lives in the northernmost areas of Europe. They are the nine groups and speak distinctly different dialects unintelligible to the other groups. Those who use
MS Office 2003 may verify this by clicking to tools and then set languages in MS Word mode. The Scandinavian people say they are their ancestors and nobody knows from where they came.

On scanning in the site ( for names of Sami, I found that about 40 places in Africa alone have been named Sami and its variants, like Samia, Samiya, Samiri, Samier, Samiel, Samis, Samish, and Samino, while the total throughout the world is 75. So, Africa, perhaps, might be the ancestral continent and from there people might have migrated to other places of the world. They appear to have migrated through Iran, Pakistan, Gujarat and Orissa in India, then Burma, North and South Korea and then the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea where they are known as Samiri.

It is interesting to note that many Iraqis also use the word Sami in their proper names. For example, a high school student in Basra has her name as Sarah Sami (Times of India, Bangalore, March 23, 2008 in its weekly ‘Soul Hits’). There may be other persons in Iraq including the name Sami.

Place names could also be used as one of the tools to study population movements in the remote past in the history of human existence, like gene marker M150 is used by experts.

S.N. Mahalingam
P.No.64-A, Kalamegam Street Extn.
S.B. Colony II Street
Kamarajapuram, Chennai 600 073

(Two)-wheeling dealing

Like the Lone Ranger, he was not riding alone. He was part of a zigzag line of bike riders, all moving on the Arcot Road pavement in Kodambakkam. He was polite – a rare quality displayed in the snarled-up peak hour Chennai traffic. For, he stopped and apologised after propelling me from behind with the force of a vulcanised battering ram. “Sorry, Sir. Did it hurt? But... but, the fault was yours. You were in my way.”

His comment hurt me more than his bike tyre. I bristled with righteous indignation. “What d’you mean?” I hissed. “YOU are in MY way! This is my domain – the domain of the downtrodden pedestrian. Look! You have the whole cemented road on the right, to speed, overtake, hit or break your neck.”

He surveyed the pavement critically like a stunt artiste in between shots. “Only half the road. Can any decent bike move on this stretch? Riding on this terrain is no joke. It’s tricky.”

I was baffled by this school of thought. “Look,” I told him, rather severely. “The Traffic Rules are clear. The road is for vehicles. And the pavement is for pedestrians. Nowhere in the world have I seen someone plying a two-wheeler on the sidewalk. May be in movies, in the last reel chase scene. That is fiction, unreal, reel-life dammit. But what you do here is naked, unabashed aggression. And adding insult to injury, you talk of the hassles in your unauthorised, bike-occupied area. How dare you!”

He sniggered, “Sound logic, Sir. But does not wash with me. In the Detroit of India, that is Chennai, you are making a blunder. You are using your legs. You should use tyres – change over to cars via bikes. Pedestrians have no place on the roads. They are a hindrance. They jay walk or cross the roads like the chicken in the joke. Some even do the tango in the middle of the road in the guise of avoiding a speeding vehicle. Sooner they become extinct, the better. And talking of tyres, the mud mark on your trouser seat will go off. Use one of the detergents that the saree-clad home-makers in the ads smilingly endorse. If you want a lift, perch on my pillion, Sir. Together we’ll rollercoast on this challenging stretch!”

J.S. Raghavan
Flat E, Balu Flats, 21, Mahadevan Street
West Mambalam, Chennai 600 033

Whose garbage dump?

In the Corporation’s open ground on Whites Road (just behind the Sudarshan Chit building on one side and behind Satyam Theatre complex on the other) dismantled advertisement boards, waste cardboard, plastic waste, old tyres, worn out materials, debris removed from buildings and what not, are dumped. Even daily garbage and waste are dumped here instead of putting them into Corporation garbage bins. Birds picking at the garbage and strewing it on the windows of nearby houses create further environmental and health problems. These wastes are not removed by any authority, leading to a lot of pollution problem to the nearby residences. This has been going on for years together. Lot of dust generated by the dumped debris continuously settles inside nearby houses affecting the health of the residents. If the situation is not looked into right now, the Corporation open space will shortly become a garbage dumping area, causing health hazards to the people living nearby.

Labourers are put up in congested dwellings next to Corporation ground. Poor sanitary conditions surrounding the dwellings and stagnant sewage (open-air bath/washing and answering calls of nature) in the dwellings have compounded the problem. Thick layers of black, obnoxious and toxic fumes continue to envelope the Peter’s Colony due to the practice of using firewoods for cooking by the temporary dwellers.

These issues have been brought to the notice of the authorities from time to time, but no one seems to bother about this serious issue.

Can anyone help us to live a pollution-free life in Chennai?

S.R. Rajagopal
7/12, Peter’s Colony
Chennai 600 014

Without the Prince!

Without remedies for the poor physical condition and inadequate to nil illumination of our roads, speaking about safety (MM, September 16th) is like enacting Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark!

N. Dharmeshwaran
1111/5 First Cross, Bharath Nagar
Madipakkam, Chennai 600 091

The correct answer

I refer to Quizmaster Ramanan’s question on the first annual conference of the Music Academy. The answer given is not quite correct.

The inauguration of the Academy happened on August 18, 1928 at the YMCA, Esplanade, and was presided over by Sir C.P. The first Annual Conference was held between March 29 and April 1, 1929 at the Senate House, but it was called the Madras Music Conference. The discussions pertained to Ragalakshanas alone and the inauguration was by Sevuga Pandia Thevar, the Zamindar of Seithur.

Sriram V.

In this issue

Happy Birthday, CoC
The people propose...
The 'hub and spokes'...
The Parsis of Madras
Historic residences of...
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Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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