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VOL. XXII NO. 7, July 16-31, 2012
By Ranjitha Ashok

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"If those smilies drive on Chennai roads, they will definitely not have the smile on their faces!"

Traffic signals in Chennai have their own particular zeitgeist – two lanes magically morphing into eight lanes, noise, anger, impatience and aggressive me-first-ism.

Which is why, when you see a huge 'smiley' down at you from a strategically placed electronic signboard – it comes as a jolt.

Even more so when you realise that it is the authorities who are responsible for this.

Those-in-Charge resorting to the art of gentle persuasion?

Who'd have thought...?

And yet, so it is.

The messages keep changing – zinging sweetly to the many-headed, now advising, now merely cooing.

Yes, cooing.

How else do you describe a line that asks you why you're being 'so serious' especially when 'it's a beautiful day'?

They're even doing it in verse: "Drive with smile, happy will be every mile..."

(No, not joking.)

The signboard displays a face registering pain, with fingers stuffed in ears.

Honking horns, the message gently admonishes, will only affect your ears.

True – and those of everyone around you.

The messages are bi-lingual, cleverly ensuring citizens can't pretend linguistic ignorance.

Look – if the authorities have decided to take the 'nice' road to discipline, they need us to meet them halfway.

Come on, Chennai, let's show Those-in-Charge that being 'nice' works.


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In this issue

First in bus accidents – a dubious status for Chennai
Whither VP Hall's restoration?
Nostalgia – Memories of Madras
Looking back – Goldingham and the Madras Observatory
Cricket in India stands for hope & opportunity
A music academy for the future
Ismena Warren – documenting Madras in water-colours and sketches
Better use of city spaces
Garden gloom

Our Regulars

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


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