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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XXI No. 19, January 15-31, 2012
Our Readers Write

Honk... Honk... Honk – and threaten health

I have lived the first half of my life in Madras and the latter half abroad. Every time I visit the city during summer for my annual vacation, it takes me about 3-4 days to get used to the ambient noise levels which are caused predominantly by vehicles drivers. Often, I find it impossible to recognise the ringing of my mobile phone because of the high decibel levels. And on this count, two-wheelers, three-wheelers and four-wheelers are all guilty. There is this morbid urge on the part of every driver to honk and raise the din.

Sometimes the honking is a result of either a blocked road or slow moving traffic. Every honker believes that he is the only one who wants to reach his/her destination and sees every other driver on the road as an impediment to his goal – ignoring the fact that other drivers too may be as much in a hurry. Stupid as this may sound, it is the reality on Madras' streets.

Then there is the other category of honkers – who are habitual 'fun' honkers. They just have to honk and there need not be a reason why. If the horn works, then honk. You can hear them honking either in long beeps or at regular intervals or sometimes honking to a certain rhythm, presuming some sort of musicality to their actions. At times, a combination of these honkers can create a din so loud that it is enough to raise your blood pressure.

In most other countries, honking usually is a manner of expressing displeasure at someone else's driving habits and is resorted to only in extreme cases. This would explain the relative low decibel levels on the roads in these countries.

The high decibel level on the Madras' streets not only irritates others, but is a serious health hazard. Constant exposure to such high noise levels can have seriously debilitating effects on public health. The city police has a duty to apprehend these wilful honkers and fine them for disturbing the public peace. Also, there has to be a strong and widespread campaign for a quieter, calmer, noise-free Madras.

C.K. Jaidev

What's worth doing?

Collaborations have helped create over 100 events for Madras Week 2012. But if we look closely at that Events Calendar there are hardly any events in North Madras. Why?

Is it because communities there continue to live their own lives and are content to do so? Or is it because cultural spaces and activities are at a minimum? Or is a sense of alienation sustaining a divide?

In the past, the catalysts of Madras Day have made some attempts at collaboration, but these have not taken firm root.

Perhaps, we need to do some work with local schools and community groups.

I don't see why the managers of Madras Port cannot invite select groups of students from schools that lie on its fringe to get a feel of its campus, however highly-secured a place it is.

How can St. Kevin's School and St. Peter's Church in Royapuram work together to celebrate this neighbourhood?

And surely, Southern Railway can organise a train run from the historical Royapuram Railway Station...

Vincent D'Souza
Mylapore Times

Editor's Note: And why not an exchange of visits between North Madras and South Madras schools.

You'll be missed

I have never subscribed to the adage "All good things must come to an end" but it seems particularly unfortunate that Ranjitha Ashok has decided to "retire" (MM, August 16th). For most of us her column would be the first to be read and, in my case, I would re-read it before passing it on to family. In her own discreet and endearing way, Ranjitha has said many things to Madras and its citizens who badly needed them, but always with a touch of tongue-in-cheek humour. She is far too much of a lady to willingly raise hackles. What an irony that her final piece should be on page 3, knowing her, that would be the last place on earth she would wish to be in. Never mind dear Ranjitha, this is the Madras Musings. You will be missed with love from many readers, no doubt.

Radha Gopalakrishnan
26/2, Arundale Beach Road
Kalakshetra Colony
Chennai 600 090

Memories of Lakshmi

The news of the passing away of Lakshmi Seghal brought to me nostalgic memories of the times we knew her as Lakshmi Swaminadhan and followed her life and history during World War II when we were students in QMC.

My first memory of her is when, as a doctor, she came to take First Aid and Home Nursing classes. During the War, it was compulsory for colleges to have these classes, apart from air raid shelter practices.

Lakshmi was so beautiful that instead of paying attention to the techniques of tying a bandage, we would just gaze at her.

Then we followed her life in Singapore and her days with the Indian National Army and as the head of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, and the goal of Delhi Chalo.

In our student days, there was great excitement over the Delhi Chalo programme. Sadly, the start from Burma ended much short of the goal.

Anna Varki
171, HIG - BHEL - Phase I
Hyderabad 502 032

Shift the capital

It is reported that Russia is considering shifting its administrative capital from Moscow to an interior location, as Moscow has become highly congested, polluted and clogged, and is also located at one extreme of the vast country. The new capital location will open up and develop the interior and less-populated areas.

In Tamil Nadu, the State Capital is located at the northernmost tip of the State, not easily accessible to people from the Southern and Western districts. In the past, many leaders, including the former Chief Minister MGR, had suggested the shifting of the administrative capital to a more central location, nearabouts Tiruchi.

Leaders of political parties and the general public in Tamil Nadu should debate this important issue as Chennai and suburbs have already become highly developed, congested, polluted and overrun by traffic. A new capital will open up the hinterland and promote industrialisation of new areas.

J.W. Thomas
9, Ritherdon Road
Chennai 600 007

Restore name

The name 'Madras' should be restored to your great city.

There are foods, textiles, and clothing with the name 'Madras'. Madras is recognised everywhere in the world, and it does not have a Chinese sound. It must be restored.

E. (Ted) Willoughby Kulp
(An Indologist in Canada)

Coins that confuse

I totally concur with B. Gautham (MM, June 1st) that the new issue of coins of various denominations causes real headaches while handling. He mentioned the different users. But how about the visually challenged persons who cannot read the embossed numbers?

When I was a schoolboy we used to have ¼ anna, ½ anna, 1 anna, 2 annas, 4 annas, 8 annas, 1 rupee coins. ¼ anna was round with a hole in the middle, ½ anna was a small square, 1 anna had peripheral corrugations, 2 anna was a bigger square. 4 and 8 annas were round, but of different sizes. How easy it was to distinguish!

People who have designed the present coins should have thought over these things. Earlier they brought out Rs.100 and Rs.500 notes which were similar, except for the numbers. Dies of different shapes could have been made for different denominations, and then the coins could have been brought out, which would have made sense.

T.S. Sriram
11/5 (5/5), "Sadasivam"
4th Main Road, Gandhi Nagar
Adyar, Chennai 600 020

Counting kasus

Travancore had, apart from its own anchal system, its own currency system too (MM, June 16th). The Travancore rupee was divided into 7 panams, the panam into 4 chakrams, and the chakram into 16 kasus. Thus, one rupee equalled 448 kasus. The British Indian rupee was marginally higher, consisting of 456 kasus.

The Travancore kasu was reputedly the smallest-valued coin in the world. But eight of them got you a fistful of kappalandi (groundnuts).

An amusing incident of those times. I was a student of the English High School in Mavelikara. On the fee collection day, the class teacher had to collect the fees from the 40-odd students of his class during the first period of the day. On one of those days, for some reason, the maths teacher, Alexander Sir (Lilliput was his nickname), had fixed that very period for a test. Following the unwritten, but universal, rule, maths was a hated subject. The most mischievous boy of the class and some of his buddies had hatched a plot to thwart the test. They hit upon an ingenious scheme: convert the fees (five and a quarter rupees, if I remember right) of the plotters into kasus to be handed over to the class teacher.

Can you imagine the frustration of the class teacher? He had to spend the better part of the period counting the cash. And Alexander Sir was furiously pacing up and down the passage! Needless to say, the test did not take place that day.

G. Sankaran
T43A, 7th Avenue
Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090

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In this Issue

Is conservation on right track?
Neglect threatening QMC building
Beach, bins & beauty
Krishnan entertains off the court
In the Fort & outside...
Walking about with
Sriram V.
Collecting our memories
'Curdrice cricket'
Dennis no 'menace' in Madras
Inspiring a crop of chess champions
Changing times
Fly away with them...
Children's focus during Madras Week

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan


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