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(ARCHIVE) VOL. XXII No. 11, September 16-31, 2012
Looking back on Madras Week
By Vincent D'Souza

On the Mint Food Trail

Participants seen with Pratibha Jain during the Mint Food trail.

The Mint Food Trail was a new addition to the Madras Week celebrations this year.

The trail started at Kakada Sweets, a big name in the food world in the Mint Street area, and present there were all those who had signed up for this only-by-walk-food-trail.

Kakada's is best known for its Aloo Tikki Chaat and creamy badam milk, and once the recommendation was made, the walkers fell over each other!

Murugan Sandwich Shop offered its rich chutney cheese toast and murukku sandwich.

Ajab Mithaighar offered jalebis and ganthias, served with raw papaya chutney, a popular breakfast combo for the community here. And the kesar pista kulfi at Maharaja Kulfi Shop was just what you wanted after stinging your tongue with some spicy snacks.

Pratibha Jain, cookery expert, foodie and writer, put together a team of volunteers which included Darshana Bokadia, Tara Kankaria, Tanmai and Uma Chordia, Dhruv and Aditi and each one of them gladly took the group around to the shops, spoke about their lives and times, and shared some shopping tips too.

These were people who love their neighbourhood and, given the opportunity to showcase it, did it proudly.

It takes a bit of creativity and patience for a few volunteers to energise a group. It did work in this case and we were happy. It did not work in Anna Nagar where a bunch of senior residents tried to launch a Social Archives Project.

A city's neighbourhoods need to have residents who know their backyard and their histories. And recall the memories.

Jewellery of seven decades

Renuka Ravi, who heads the HR Department at Nathella Sampathu Jewellers, which has a long history associated with the city's lifestyle, organised a small exhibition at Nathella's Anna Nagar showroom which took visitors through the history of the 85-year-old business. She promised to make it a bigger event next year.

China Bazaar in the 1930s used to be the shopping destination of the city and this shop, which was on NSC Bose Road, would be abuzz with clients. Among them were many VIPs including Sivaji Ganesan, M.S. Subbulakshmi and Sowcar Janaki.

When Tamil films ran for 100 days or notched up silver jubilees, the producers would turn to Nathella to make the silver trophies. The trophies for the big hits, Paava Mannippu and Nadodi Mannan, were made here.

A very senior staff member here, K.V. Narasimhan, who joined Nathella in 1968, talked about business in the old days. "One gram of gold cost Rs.16. Today it is Rs.3000!". And at celebration time, Narasimhan and his colleagues would enjoy the masala dosas and gulab jamun from Modern Café and Arya Bhavan in the area.

Besides exhibiting some pictures from the Nathella records, Renuka arranged to display jewellery made over seven decades.

Discovering Gandhi Nagar

Journalist G.C. Shekhar and civic activist Shekar Raghavan had a tea meeting, exchanged notes, called up friends and senior citizens and had the basic blueprint for what they called the Gandhi Nagar Walk, which they introduced during the Madras Day celebrations.

Raghavan, who also promotes rainwater harvesting, even managed to pull out a yellowing sheet of paper which carried the layout of an area that was simply called Adyar first and then renamed Gandhi Nagar.

Collaboration and networking by people of this city is what makes most events of Madras Day unique.

* * *

Dr. Sumanth Raman who has been running a hugely popular Sports Quiz on Doordarshan for many years despite his busy worktime at TCS, presented the annual Madras Quiz organised by Mylapore Times. He did not overload the Quiz with questions on 19th Century Madras but had something teasy for young and old.

The venue was a new one, Hotel Ambassador Pallava, and it was the latest to join the several who over the years have freely opened their halls to the public for Madras Week events.

* * *

A group in the Arcot Road area got people at the famed L.V. Prasad Studios in Saligramam to take guests on a tour of the film studio and allied facilities and share the histories of the place and of the people who made it.

* * *

Participants in the 'Bicycle Heritage Ride'.

And a passionate cyclist Ram volunteered to lead – and led – a cycling tour of Mylapore/Triplicane one weekend morning.

Madras Day/Week is all about collaborating, freely.

Please click here to support the Heritage Act

In this Issue

Lurching from crisis to crisis
If Anna Arches, why not other heritage buildings?
China can help us connect
Luminaries of our High Court
Looking back on Madras Week
Tracing the City's Old Wall
New facts learnt...
Zooming in on a changing Chennai
The Murugappa Madras Quotient Quiz 2012

Our Regulars

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


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