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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XXI No. 6, July 1-15, 2011
Our Readers Write

More memories of Radio Ceylon

I read the article, ‘When India tuned to Radio Ceylon’ (MM, June 1st) with great interest and nostalgic thoughts. From 1965 to 1981 Radio Ceylon enjoyed a golden era. It was called Ilangai Oliparappu Kootusthabanam. All the programmes of Radio Ceylon were very popular with the people of Tamil Nadu. Even All India Radio was not so popular. People listened only to news on All India Radio. The quality of Radio Ceylon broadcast was amazing and even a very old valve set used to get good reception without disturbance.

Regarding the RJs of Radio Ceylon, as mentioned in the article, Mayilvahanam Sarvananda enjoyed great popularity for his soft voice. So also Raja Guru Senathipathy Kanakaratnam. Abdul Hameed took Radio Ceylon to great heights with his popular programme ‘Isaiyum Kadhaiyum’ every Tuesday evening from 4.30 to 5.30. I should also mention Rajeswari Shanmukham, the eminent RJ who shared a volley of information and anecdotes. Her clear diction and pronunciation enthralled the listeners. The crossword puzzle programme was conducted by Chandramohan and K.S. Rajah who tried to imitate Amin Sayani in conducting ‘Thirai Virundhu’.

They had three channels: Tamil Sevai 1, Tamil Sevai 2, and Aasiya Sevai. People relished the advertisement slots also. Popular advertisements were those of Dollar soap, Lipton Lavoji tea, and Lalitha Jewellery Mart. Their innovative programmes were the reason for their success.

Radio Ceylon also aired some Christian programmes in collaboration with ‘Thoothukudi Thirumarai Pani Nilayam.’ The recording theatre for this programme was situated inside the campus of St. Francis Xavier Higher Secondary School, Tuticorin.

Sugandha Balasubramanian
Chennai 600 028

Madras, please

Returning to ancient and time-honoured Fort St. George, Madam Chief Minister may also like to consider re naming, rather restoring, the original and global name of Madras.

N. Dharmeshwaran
Plot 456, II LInk Road
Sadashiva Nagar
Chennai 600 091

* * *

I totally support the view of reader C.K. Jaidev (MM, June 16th). There was no rhyme or reason to change it to Chennai. No public debate. Only whims and fancies!

We can understand when they changed to Mumbai – because, in the centre of the city, there was the Goddess Mumbadevi shrine. She is a greatly revered goddess in Maharashtra.

But what about Chennai. Was there any mention in Sangam literature? Or even in later literary works? Even if you wanted a change, it should have been Mylai or Thiruvallikeni, the words still used for registration purposes in that part of the town! Chennai is not even a Tamil word!

It was expected at the last 2001-06 regime change, the erstwhile glory would be restored. Can we expect it at least now?

Even if we call the city Chennai, the international sign is MAA! And many consulates still put (Madras) within brackets after the word Chennai. We simply can’t escape using the name Madras!

I well remember, when that change was announced, an ardent letter-writer immediately used the word Chennai in the postal envelope and it landed in China!

N.P. Andavan

World class?

Recently, the Chennai Corporation announced that it was laying world-class roads.

I do not know what that means. Is it just drawing three parallel white lines with one in the middle of the road and two on either side? Fortunately they are drawn after the road is blacktopped, reminding us of the proverbial squirrel’s tail in the Ramayana.

Cat’s eyes were fitted in the middle of the road, but they just refused to stay and have walked out, probably afraid of auto drivers.

Now, suddenly, Metrowater also wants to share the limelight and how? By erecting turrets in the middle of the road, perhaps to warn motorists of the hazards of driving fast.

The new Traffic Commissioner could well fix hidden cameras in these turrets to catch offenders. But thank goodness, he is sensible.

I hope he reverses the one way at the Luz Junction in Mylapore, and save the public, and the nation at large, avoiding wastage of petrol/diesel, being forced to travel about 1.5 km extra distance on every trip.


Chennai transport

You are right in pointing out that Mono Rail, Metro, MRTS and buses should team together to be successful. Had the trams in Madras been left intact, they would have evolved as a convenient mode of commuting by now.

The public transport system needs a thorough review in the context of the convenience of the commuters. With the abolition of cycle rickshaws, the aged men, women and sick people have lost affordable transport facilities to visit doctors, shops, etc. within a locality. The fleecing autorickshaws are no longer the affordable mode of local transport they were once thought to be.

It is high time we began thinking of a direction-oriented system of city buses facilitating travel by two or three buses with one time-bound ticket. Shuttle buses on every long route could facilitate local commuting. For example, a shuttle service from Queen Mary’s College to Chetpet will link the suburban Velachery-Beach and Tambaram-Beach railway sections. With two or three shuttle service buses, high frequency could be maintained. Persons wishing to travel beyond Chetpet could travel by similar shuttle services operated on other routes using the same time-bound ticket. Instead of plying a bus from Tiruvanmiyur to Tiruvottriyur, the route can be covered by two or three shuttle services. It should be ensured every long route should have buses running end to end with suitable links to other shuttles. This will ensure the availability of affordable transport system within the city.

A convenient public transport system would eliminate the mindless mushrooming of two-wheelers and private vehicles that pose grave traffic problems. A lot of thinking and planning are the need of the hour to provide a convenient transport system to Chennaiites.

R. Janakiraman
14, Gopalapuram 3rd Street
Chennai 600 086

Forests and shrines

As a practising ecologist, I wish to add to reader Parvati Menon’s remark: “I suppose the origin of a green patch ... environment” (MM, June 16th).

1. The currently used Malayalam term kaavu is a corruption of the Tamil term kaa which, in essence, means kaanagam, kaadu (forest). It is customary in spoken language to add a ‘u’ at the end of words such as ‘kaa’, to make them easy to express.

2. In earlier times, when we never built elaborate temples based on ‘Aagama’ rules, the worship sites (shrines) existed within forests – representing different elements of Nature. In fact, in ancient Tamizhagam, at the time before the Early Cholas, shrines were small (unlike the ones built by the Later Cholas) and were in thatch-roof structures to a design similar to what we see today in Kerala.

3. Worship practice evolved out of either fear (e.g. snakes) or appreciation of beauty (e.g. rivers, mountains, trees) or thankfulness (e.g. cow).

4. For example, I will cite the research monograph ‘Mara vazhipadu’ (tree worship) by
K.P. Aravaanan, who taught Tamil language and literature in Loyola College (Madras) in the 1980s. Aravaanan investigated tree worship practice in southern India before the origins of structured religious practices and compared them to what existed (and ‘exist’) in Western Africa (e.g. Senegal). This was a remarkable study, which brought out similar dimensions in South Indian and West African worship practices.

4. Anyway, coming back to reader Parvati Menon’s remark, we do not know whether our ancestors had a clear focus on environmental conservation in what they practised as worship. But several ‘sacred groves’ in different parts of South India have now been unveiled, which were restricted by earlier southern Indians to trespassers by attributing some ‘divine’ value to them. Whether they were truly divine or not is debatable. But the good result is that we find organisms (plants and animals) that were considered either lost or on the brink of being lost continuing to exist in these sacred groves. In fact, ecologists have found, and have confirmed, that these sacred groves have functioned as repositories of natural wealth. A Wikipedia site is available, which brings to light several aspects of these groves.

5. I think – my personal view only – that the vehicles of Hindu deities are also an effort to attribute a ‘divine’ value to animals so that they will not be destroyed. This is to be scientifically verified, although I also think that the nandavanam in temple precincts is the persisting idea of kavu. The only difference would be that the forest was large and the shrine was small in earlier days, whereas in modern temples the shrine part is huge and the forest part has become a small component.

Dr. A. Raman
Charles Sturt University
Orange, New South Wales Australia


In this issue

Education standards fall in levelling
What will be the fate of the Cooum?
Getting ready for ­Madras (Day) Week ...
Quest for that precious Blue
The artist who designed the State emblem
Early modern Tamil novels
Other stories

Our Regulars

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


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