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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 10, september 1-15, 2009
Our Readers Write

Forgotten programmes

When the sphere of “entertainment” was limited with few opportunities given to us in 1946 and 1947 any opening to go out was considered “A Golden Chance” not to miss but to avail of to the maximum extent. When studying in Holy Angels Convent in T. Nagar or St. Bedes Anglo Indian School, San Thomé, or Christian College School, Chetpet, we were the few lucky ones chosen to go to AIR Madras then situated at the building near AV Thomas & Co. opposite Rajaratnam Stadium, Egmore. Airconditioned rooms were a rare privilige and never did we like to miss the this “Tanda Tanda Kool Kool Place”.

What attracted us most was Handel Manuel playing the huge Piano and trying his best to tune it with our voices, be it a solo song or a chrous or reciting a poem. The group songs most popular were – “Bring Back My Bonie to me” or “Oh my darling clementine” or “Row Row Row a boat gently down the stream.”

I sang the song “Ashgrove” which was like this “Come yonder green valley where stramlets meander when twilight is fading I pensively roam” in III Std. in St. Bedes or My Shadow – I had a little shadow that goes in and out with me – like an Indian rubber Ball ... a poem.

Handel Manuel was patient in his handling us all and patted me for without a retake recorded the above programme and encouraged me. Thank you, sir, although you are no more with us.

Mrs. Schafter, your sister-in-law teaching in Church Park Convent, spoke of you when you would come to school for the Music class period.

Where is the Music class period now? Where are English Saturday afternoon 3.30 to 4 children’s programmes gone? AIR programmes have faded away, giving in to glamour of television.

Modulation of voice and exercising of vocal chords, listening to piano recitals have become obselete and something of the past, even in AIR.

All Anglo-Indian houses in Royapettah, Pudupet, Royapuram and Perambur were the homes to encourage the Piano.

We live in the past as it gave us peace of mind and tranqui­llity of nerves.

Lakshmi Hayagreeva Cultural & Educational Trust
L-404, “The Atrium”
22/49, Kalakshetra Road, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai 600 041

Why celebrate?

A lot of pampering has been going on in celebrating the existence of Chennai for over 350 years. Let us look at the reality. Compare it to once-upon-a-time technology and manpower. Today, even a spell of five minutes brings Mount Road under stagnant water – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. How can we be happy when Singara Chennai looks like Sirikkum Chennai? We are not able to keep even Mount Road clean. Every Chennaiite must be ashamed of the situation.

We cannot celebrate Namma Madras unless Govern­ment’s and the public’s apathy towards honest execution changes its perspective. Till then, it is only Makkum Madras or Sirikkum Chennai.

S.R. Rajagopal
7/12, Peters Colony
Royapettah, Chennai 600 014

A disappointment

I thought that this year we should be part of the celebrations of Namma Madras. The last time my husband and I visited the Fort Museum was several years ago. There was a special showing then, which meant that there were very interesting artifacts on display. I thought that this time around, the many ledgers and artifacts kept behind heavily padlocked, sealed doors would be exhibited. I was sorely disappointed.

There was not a single record with interesting entries for us to read. The rooms were dimly lit, the exquisitely carved statues were shown scant respect and hadn’t even received a flick of a duster. In the Portrait Gallery some of the spotlights were not on. When I asked the man, lazily reclining in a chair, to switch on the lights, he said those lights were not working. In addition, some of the portraits were unlabelled. The coins and medals could have a little more written about them. Some of them were so tarnished that we couldn’t make out the figures or inscriptions on them.

There were many foreigners who visited that day and I was horrified to think of the impression they would carry back with them.

How can one get the ‘powers that be’ to improve conditions there?

Jean Isaacs

Hunting instincts

The problem with stray dogs (MM, August 1st) is that if there are three or more dogs, they form a pack and their hunting instincts take over and any susceptible subject is prey. Dog lovers cannot do anything to prevent this behaviour, since it has evolved from prehistoric times.

Man used this aspect of pack behaviour for his own ends when he was a hunter-gatherer. We have hopefully surpassed this stage of our evolution, but dog packs keep forming if there are many of them around. My picture (above) is of a spotted deer injured by dogs in the city and the deer has succumbed to the injuries it suffered, as far as I know.


A. Rajaram

C2, 29, 4th Seaward Road
Valmiki Nagar, Chennai 600 041

Grim situation

’Urban Wildlife in Peril in MM, July 16th, was the right article at the right time.

May I add to the list one more natural space in the middle of the city which has been by and large untouched? The grounds to the rear of Egmore Museum used to be a marsh of sorts and during the rains, many waterbirds would visit. Sadly, government decided to build a seven-storied Library for Tamil Literature in the space. It, however, stopped with only two floors, but the open space that was marsh was filled up with construction debris and only half of the original space was left vacant. A third floor is now in the process of being constructed.

While there is still some amount of water being retained in the area during the rains, the waterbirds do not find it worth their while. Needless to say, the groundwater table has reduced considerably and, with the construction of many multistoried apartments in the adjoining roads, the water situation is quite grim.

Sabita Currimbhoy

The Ashe Memorial

In Tuticorin, there is a small cupola by the side of the Sub-Collector’s office with the inscription at the top ‘The Ashe Memorial’ (MM, August 1st). Below it, the year 1911 is inscribed.

It is on land that belonged to the Holy Trinity Church, built by the Dutch in 1750 with coral stones. Interestingly, there is a monogram, VOC, at the top of the church indicating Dutch East India Company ownership. After the Dutch left, it became an Anglican church during which time a portion of the land was given for the Memorial. Now it is a CSI church.

In the 1990s, when I was working as a scientist in Tuti­corin, I once met a Sub-Collector in connection with a scientific matter and he told me that public wrath was so much against Ashe that the British were afraid to fix a memorial tablet on the building. Even now, it is in the Sub-Collector’s office!

I understand the grave of Ashe is in the Military Lines in Tirunelveli.

D.B. James
37, Sadasiva Metha Street,
Metha Nagar, Chennai 600 028

Love of nature

The article on Pulicat (MM, July 16th) triggered nostalgic memories. It was nearly four decades ago, during the summer of 1972 that I, as a young science teacher in a high school, attended an internationally funded summer institute in Biology at Madras Christian College, Tambaram. The Director of the institute was Prof. Dr. P.J. Sanjeeva Raj. He took the participants to Pulicat. That was my introduction to Ecology, ­Environment and Conservation. He gave us the books Trees of India and Birds of India by Salim Ali. He taught us all about DNA, RNA and replication. (Till then, my interpretation of DNA was Dating Not Allowed and RNA was Ragging Not Allowed.) India’s crocodile man Romulus Whitaker was also a resource person at the institute.

The love for nature and preserving it instilled in me by Dr. Sanjeeva Raj still lives on. He has truly inspired a generation of nature lovers.

Rev. Dr. R. Daniel Jayakumar
30, Pappamal Nagar, Kondur,
Cuddalore 607 002


In this issue

Thank you, Chennai
Foundation stones...
19th & 20th Century...
Historic Residences...
Other stories

Our Regulars

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


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