Archive for November, 2006

At last: an integrated action plan for infrastructure?

Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) Vice Chairman R Santhanam reiterated the need for an integrated action plan for the city’s infrastructure, particularly in the rapidly growing suburbs of Chennai, with over a million people moving there between 1991 and 2001. The city is expected to have 10 million residents twenty years from now, and unless concerted and integrated action is taken now to provide the right infrastructure, decongest roads and check the influx of population, the city will deteriorate even further. He also mooted allowing high rise buildings in the Chennai Metrpolitan Area (not without mass rapid urban transit systems like metros please!), developing satellite townships and preserving heritage buildings. The CMDA’s second Master Plan (Why don’t they share this with the public? Don’t we have a say? It’s our city! We pay the taxes.) with recommendations being finalized for building laws and zoning of land will take into account that Chennai is a category three seismic zone.

Chennai’s 1st gift to the world. Madras cotton

First, an introduction. The Metroblogging network, all 50 cities around the world, is taking part in a series called the Gifts to the world. In this, each city will identify 7 gifts (People, places, styles, stuff, ideas) that originated in that particular city, and has been adopted the world over, or atleast, extensively. Chennai’s got quite a few, we think. And so, late as it is to take part, here’s a list that the Chennai Metroblogging Authors have come up with – 7 Gifts Chennai’s given to the world.

Gift #1 – Madras Cotton
It’s what the Hathway man wears, bleeding colours and all. It defined, for a long time, what the ‘cool’ dude ought to look like. And more importantly, it defined one man’s career – David Ogilvy.

Living amongst Celebrities

Living in Alwarpet has its own advantages. Whenever you mention it in a gathering, your snob value goes up a notch. People think of the bungalows of Chittaranjan Road, Venus Colony, Kasturi Rangan Road and so on. Never mind that you live in a 700 sq ft flat at the periphery of Alwarpet.

A visit to Vivek’s, Adyar

We have been thinking of getting another TV for the guest bedroom, which we are slowly turning into a home theatre/den (except, of course, when we have guests at home!) Having acquired many of the other components of a home theatre system, we needed a good TV to complete the picture (pun intended!). A LCD flat screen if we could afford it. So off we went to Vivek’s Adyar to check things out.

Down Lattice Bridge Road to the Adyar signal and left at Coronet, and we were lucky enough to get parking under the flyover right opposite Vivek’s. Pleased as punch, we locked the car and looked across the road at Vivek’s. And were quite shocked. In years gone by, Vivek’s Adyar was bright, well maintained, and had an air of success around it. Now it looked dead beat, run down, tired and weary, its fa├žade dull and worn out. Even the area just in front and along the sides seemed care worn.

“Day is as silent as the night …”

Thi Janakiraman was an enthusiast. Of life, of words. No matter what he wrote, he touched upon the subtle nuances of the topic in such a poignant way that it left you wondering for hours afterwards, about the mastery of his pen. His women were magnificent; his charcters were never two-dimensional, making you struggle to visualize them, his descriptive powers were the ultimate – and when he wrote about carnatic music, you knew at once that he was a connoisseur. He was the master of understatement. Never more so, in his classic novel, “Amma Vandhal.”

Here’s an excerpt from the master, where he decribes the Chennai of the ’50s and ’60s, in the novel, translated by Malati Mathur.

Two members of the Madras Boat Club for the Doha Asian Games at Qatar in December

Swathy Sanjay of the Madras Boat Club has been chosen to represent India at the forthcoming Asian Games at Doha, Qatar from the 1st to the 13th December 2006. She will be a member of the ladies coxless fours representing India in the heavy weight category. The Madras Boat Club has the added distinction of having M V Shriram, a member of the club, invited by the Doha Asian Games International Organizing Committee to be a Technical Official at the games. With this, the Madras Boat Club continues to develop outstanding athletes in the sport of rowing who have won many national and international competitions, both at the club level, and representing the country. Kudos to the Club for its dedication in promoting the sport of rowing in Chennai and the South.

Piped water and sewerage along the IT corridor to become a reality?

The first projects to be approved under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission were those to improve the water distribution network according to The Hindu. The project will cover the improvement of, and replacement of existing water pipeline infrastructure, and storage augmentation of five areas in Chennai: Royapuram, Triplicane, Kilpauk, KK Nagar and Nungambakkam. But what really caught my eye was the para at the end! Metrowater has approached the centre for laying water and sewerage infrastructure along the IT Corridor under construction. Only when this is complete can the suburbs along the IT Corridor hope to have piped water and proper sewerage. This project is estimated to cost 38 crores and is awaiting the centre’s approval. Those who live along the IT Corridor shall await with bated breath for more news of this development!

The end of Kulebhagavali

Sunday, November 26 saw the end of a graceful, classy actress at her daughter’s home in Alwarpet.

G Varalakshmi characterized the haughty, cold-mannered, yet classy woman with a core of strength more clearly than any one else, I think. I fell in love with her in Kulebhagavvali – so much that when she loses (albeit in a show of talent) to the all-powerful and multi-talented MGR, I was almost sorry for it.

On the other hand, her performance in Sampoorna Ramayanam is what I rate as my personal best. She threw herself into the role so well that for years afterwards, I couldn’t see her as anything but Kaikeyi – the mean, manipulative queen … who managed to provoke a twinge of sympathy in her audience.

Goodbye, haughty princess. We’ll miss you.

The City of Djinns

It’s Chennai I speak of, not Delhi. Chennapattinam is a city of contrasts. Old and new. They co-exist, jostling each other amidst spaces that are sometimes too constrained to let them live.

One such place is Mangaduswamy street, in Nungambakkam – a street that’s still apt to lead you, the stray walker, into a sort of portal back to the times of the British rule, or something. Several houses in the street still hark back to the times when houses had huge sprawling thinnais, pillars that supported them, occasionally carved with ancient designs.

SC: Chennai has become Unlivable

The Supreme court up held Madras High courts ruling calling for the demolition of unauthorised buildings. This in effect means that 32,000 unauthorised constructions will be demolished. The court has gone a step further and ruled all regularisation schemes are illegal, therefore all the unauthorised constructions which were regularised will now have to be demolished and Rs 800 crore collected as regularisation fees now will have to be returned.

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