Saturday, May 31, 2008

What's that, again?

The Indian Motor Vehicles Act specifies that letters and numerals on a vehicle's number plate must be of a certain size. As with many other legislated limits, these are also broken quite often. As the law does not permit customised number plates (the US allows it - does any other country?), people go to some lengths to stamp their individuality on the number plate also. A variety of fonts, sizes, ornamentation around the plate.... I thought I'd seen them all.

And then this car last evening. He can't possibly have a number plate saying "BOSS" - but that's what it said and I had to lurch across to take a photo. The size of the numerals may not be standard, but it is easily readable - though it takes a moment to figure out it is 6055!

PS: If this is your car - thank you for allowing the picture to continue on this blog. Appreciate your support! If it is not - appreciate your support even more!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

A new entrance

I've always entered the Egmore ('Chennai Egmore') railway station from the east and had thought it was the only way to get in. It was a surprise to see that the western side of the station also has an entryway; for a moment, I thought this was also of the same vintage as the other side - the builders have managed a reasonably good copy of the architecture - but the lack of significant activity around this side convinced me that it was a much more recent additon, awaiting a formal inauguration.

However, I later learnt that this entrance was officially opened two years ago, in June 2006. So why the lack of crowds? Now, Egmore used to be a station where you could drive up in a taxi right on to the platform, almost to your compartment. Even today, the shortest distance from Platform 1 to the car park is only 200 m or so; with that kind of convenience on the eastern side, it will lake a while longer for people to get used to the 'long haul' entry from the west, I guess!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Time. And space.

Spotted this one almost by accident; was going up Purasavakkam High Road and wondering how badly lost I was when I noticed this clock tower at Doveton. The moment I saw it, I realized I'd always known about this - "Doveton Clock Tower" - though I had mentioned it as Vepery in my earlier post!

Someone told me that the clock tower at Royapettah is now maintained by P.Orr & Sons. This one does not seem to have caught the eye of any such benefactor. Even the board on top of it, saying "Corporation of Chennai" is cracked and has fallen away on three of the four sides. But it still tells you the time!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Colourful zones - 4

This is the last of my 'colourful' posts; and look at that building! The pinks had dulled, the blue & cream was quiet, the blues were soothing, but this one just does the shimmy in front of you! I imagine this striking colour scheme is because the building houses a TUCS 'Fair Price Shop'.

The TUCS was originally the Triplicane Urban Cooperative Society and was set up in 1904 (it probably startled the authorities into passing the First Cooperative Credit Societies Act of 1904). Over its life, it had somehow become the default outlet for the state's public distribution system and is identified very closely with the government. The building seems to be Corporation property - TUCS only seems to be in charge of minding the store here!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Colourful zones - 3

Blue continues to be the colour of choice for an office of the Corporation itself; this is the office for Ward 142 (Bheemannapet) and has signboards for a women's self-help group meeting room and for the Ward health inspector.

Funnily though, I've never heard this being referred to as the Bheemannapet office - more often than not, folks call it the RA Puram office, because that's the postal code it is located in.

No sooner was the paint job over did someone stick a poster (that yellow smudge) to deface it. The poster thanks the Corporation of Chennai (and also the state's Chief Minister and Minister for Local Administration, as well as the Mayor of the Corporation). For what? I didn't read the fine print!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Colourful zones - 2

Though technically an autonomous board, the offices of Metrowater are maintained by the Corporation of Chennai. And so, the Area 6 (Chepauk & Triplicane) office on Dr. Ranga Road, has got a fresh coat of paint and completely different from the cream-gone-bad colour that it had sported earlier.

There is still some cream, of course, but added on with the standard blue-is-for-water, the combination works well and gets the building to look inviting. Managed to take this photo just a day after the painting was completed - the painters hadn't yet removed their ladder from the far wall!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Colourful zones - 1

The Corporation of Chennai seems to have decided to paint the city - with several colours. I noticed it first with transformers in the Mylapore-Alwarpet-RA Puram-Teynampet areas. The enclosures around these transformers were painted pink a few weeks ago.

How did I figure out it was the Corporation's initiative and not that of the Electricity Board? You will find out over the next couple of days; I've been trying to stay away from a series of pictures on the same theme, but some efforts of the Corporation are too eye-catching!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


That's a bit of a misleading title: the picture is not of any esplanade, but taken from the eastern end of 'Esplanade' - that's what Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Road was originally used for, before all sight of the Bay of Bengal was obscured by the Port of Chennai and other buildings.

Looking southwards from this point, it is surprising to find traffic being so thin; even the red-and-yellow suburban train seems to be empty. That's quite unusual for 6 o'clock on a workday evening - or maybe it is just the calm before the storm of people leaving their offices hits the roads.

The picture covers some of the city's well-known features: the Rajaji Salai subway, the Reserve Bank of India building, the Beach-Tambaram suburban train, the TV Tower of Doordarshan Kendra, Chennai, the spire of St. Mary's Church inside the Fort and the floodlights at MA Chidambaram Stadium. And though the shops are not visible, the crowds at the bottom left of the picture tell you that business is still booming at Burma Bazaar!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Village women

That's what this statue (installation?) reminded me of the first time I saw it. One of the idiosyncrasies of the pieces of art along the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) is that they seem to have absolutely no relation to each other. It is likely that one needs to walk down the road and see them close up before their secret bonds are revealed, but when you get on to the smoothest road in the city, you are always trying to see how quickly you can get through it to the next bottleneck!

Another curious thing about art on OMR is that many of them seem to be untitled (again, likely that one needs to get really close to them to read the small print) and also uncredited. That's good, because you can use your imagination to even label them differently at different times, if you so choose.

But somehow, this work seemed to be the most intriguing to me. Once 'village women' crept into my mind, I haven't been able to shake it off; I've been trying to conjure up connections between village women and the IT Corridor since. The closest I can get is to think that with many villages along the OMR having been displaced and the people re-settled, this work at the entrance of the OMR is tribute to the spirit of those home-makers.

Any other ideas?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bareback rider

It is quite likely that his fellow countrymen in the East India Company were apprehensive of how Major General Sir Thomas Munro would play his cards in furthering the interests of the British in India. Sir Thomas was more inclined to meritocracy than to nepotism and had appointed many Indians to important positions in his administration. He had also gone so far as to say that British rule of India was alien and that the natives must be prepared to "frame and maintain a worthy government for themselves".

His story speaks more of the care and concern he had for his family, the sense of fairness with which he governed and his reluctance to use force unless absolutely necessary - certainly not common themes in the history of the British in India of the late 18th century. It is believed he contributed immensely in shaping the code of conduct for a civil servant by his work and his behaviour - thereby justifying the high elevation his statue is placed at.

The statue is just outside the Army Area Headquarters on Mount Road and shows Sir Thomas riding bareback - no saddle, no stirrups. It is claimed that it was no oversight on the part of the sculptor, Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey, but a tribute to Sir Thomas' horsemanship. While that may be true, I'd like to believe that it was just Sir Francis' style - his other famous equestrian statute, that of the Duke of Wellington in London, is also bereft of saddle and stirrups!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Requiem for a memorial?

Though not very inspiring architechturally, this structure with the words 'KAJ SCHMIDT' on its leeward side is always eye-catching simply beacuse it is the only brick-and-mortar construction on the sands of the Elliots Beach. Though not as instantly recognizable as Chennai Central for 'hero arrives in Madras' shots, it has played that role in a Malayalam movie (Naadodikattu), apart from minor and major roles in hundreds of other films.

But for all that, the structure is a landmark, a 78-year old one. It is now showing the signs of its age and the complete neglect that has befallen it. Very few people know that it is an expression of gratitude, constructed by the families of two school boys of Madras who were rescued from drowning in the sea close to that spot. Their rescuer, a Danish sailor named Karl Schmidt unfortunately paid for his gallantry with his life.

And we are about to forget that great deed: "...round the decay / Of that (colossal) wreck, boundless and bare, / the lone and level sands stretch far away"^ - words that came to mind when I went to look at this memorial after about 6 years. Is that where the memory of Hr Schmidt is headed? I do hope we can do something about getting this memorial refurbished. Any ideas?

^ from "Ozymandias", by Percy Bysshe Shelly, circa 1815

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Any which way

Chennai's traffic can be quite bad during the peak hours, but even then, it keeps crawling along. It is rare to experience a complete gridlock in Chennai - for that, you've got to be in Kolkata - but there are times when the vehicles appear to be on the verge of locking themselves into one. On this occasion, I was in a van and so seated at a higher elevation than usual; the 2- and 3-wheelers were merely obeying that law of nature which says a vacuum must be abhorred and were rushing in at all angles to fill the available gaps.

Though traffic can be a reasonable excuse for a lot of delays, I will not try to use it to explain the late posting of today's photo!

Monday, May 19, 2008

All rise!

The position of the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court has been in a little bit of a flux over the past few days. Mr. Justice AP Shah was tranferred as the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and he assumed charge there on May 12; Mr. Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya was appointed as the Acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court on May 9. And then, on May 12, the President of India upon advice from the Chief Justice of India (a former CJ of the Madras High Court), transferred the CJ of the Orissa High Court to Chennai. Mr. Justice AK Ganguly is expected to assume charge today, as the 40th Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.

This picture of the Madras High Court complex was taken from the top of another fairly historic building - Dare House, the headquarters of the Murugappa Group. More about this group and its constituents later; for now, we stay with the (surprisingly) sylvan environs of the seat of justice in Chennai.

The High Court of Judicature at Madras was one of the three presidency High Courts in India established during the reign of Queen Victoria. Formally brought into existence on June 26, 1862, it is certainly one of the older landmarks of Chennai that was Madras. Wikipedia says it is the second largest judicial complex in the world - I don't know about that, but it is large enough for anyone so inclined to spend many days just admiring the buildings and the courtrooms. Not to mention become completely transfixed by the variety of proceedings that go on within it!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A vision in white

It just gleams in the heat. Now that it is peak summer in Chennai, it just gleams most of the daytime. And having the rather dull tones of the Gemini Parsn complex next to it, The Park just stands out if you glance up from the midst of trafffic at the Gemini Circle. The outside of the building is very straightforward and very simple. It is a theme that the hotel has tried to mix with the silver screen legacy of the place it stands on - the site of the erstwhile Gemini Studios. The total effect is bewildering: simplicity sandwiched with over-the-top bling, a combination that can take a while to get accustomed to.

Check out the tents right on top of the building - they're around the pool on the roof and if you're so inclined, you could have lunch inside one of those tents. With the heat being what it is, you would be mad to try it these days. And you'd be mad if you passed up a chance to be there by the poolside after sundown - the view is terrific, the breeze has set in well and.... well, what more do you want? Just ask - this was fantasy land once, after all!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Do you have the time?

How many clock towers does Chennai have? The question popped up when I was travelling past the Royapettah clock tower a couple of days ago. I had my camera with me, so I just had to take this picture, but the question remains. How many clock towers?

I can think of others at Vepery, Mint, Triplicane (and there was one in Tambaram that was brought down to make space for the National Highway) - apart from the ones on buildings such as P.Orr or the Chennai Central station. I guess I'll try and run a (fragmented) series of the clock towers :)

I'm sure there is some history behind the building of these clock towers; yes, the utilitarian value of telling time must have been the primary purpose, but who decided that the populace of the city needs to keep track of time? Will also pick up some information and link to this post - later!

Friday, May 16, 2008

What's in a name?

As far as aspirational names go, 'Ezhilagam' must be a serious contender for the top spot. This building is situated on the Marina near the Triumph of Labour statute and the MGR Memorial. It was built to house several departments of the state government and for a long while after its construction was complete, it was a kind of odd-man-out, a modern structure along a row of buildings largely in the Indo-Saracenic style. (The statue of Babu Jagjivan Ram in front was a much later addition, though).

Ezhilagam (எழிலகம்) roughly translates as 'the essence of grace'. Anyone will promptly agree that 'grace' is not a word that can be used to describe the functioning or response of any government department, anywhere in the world. Maybe the brief for the building asked for grace in design and construction; with what looks like a cactus at its crown, there was probably a lot lost in translating that brief!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Doubting Thomas

He may have doubted the resurrection of Jesus, but there is no refuting the fact that St. Thomas the apostle travelled east, reached the shores of Kerala at Kodungalloor (or, as Ptolemy had it, Cranganore) and after many good works there and elsewhere, arrived at Mylapore around 50 CE. There he lived until the local priests were vexed with his actions, upon which he was hounded out of Mylapore, up the Parangimalai (today called St. Thomas Mount), where he was attacked with a lance and killed.

St. Thomas' life and times are too rich to be detailed here (Wikipedia does have exhaustive information) and there is considerable debate over where he actually spread the gospel. But I haven't heard of any other version of where he spent his last days. In any event, the belief that he was martyred atop St. Thomas Mount has been held over centuries - by the locals first and then by the invading Portugese and the British colonizers.

The Cathedral of St. Thomas was last re-built by the British towards the end of the 19th century. In 1956, Pope Pius XII raised it to the level of a Minor Basilica - it's proper name today is 'Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Thomas'. But I would support any argument that puts this basilica on par with St. Peter's. Come on, it is one of only 3 churches that were built over the tombs of Jesus' apostles (St. Peter's in Rome and St. James' in Galicia being the others). Oh sure, it does not have the grandeur of the other two, but that's no reason to forget what it is there for.

Even the official website of the basilica moans the fact that many are unaware of the importance of the shrine! How about you - are you a doubter, too?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Of things gone by

This started off as a picture to say:

"I think that I shall never see
a billboard lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all"

just to highlight once again how, with the hoardings gone, so much more of Chennai is visible now. To those looking down from the Gemini flyover, the greenery provides a welcome relief from concrete.

But this space has been subject to a double blow; after 46 years, the Agri-Horticultural Society took back this land, which had been leased to Hotel Woodlands. They plan to build a botanical garden and merge it (through overhead walkways and subways) with their large gardens across the road. It is good to hear that this green patch in the heart of the city will remain as such. But then, it is not easy to digest the loss of what was a unique Chennai phenomenon - the Woodlands Drive-In restaurant.

It could have been an elite joint when it opened in 1962; not many cars, or even 2-wheelers, then. Yet, it was never snobbish and never had time for any bandha. One went to Woodies because the food was good, the prices economical and one could stay there for ever. When your car is your table, you don't worry about people drooling over your shoulder, waiting for you to finish.

But Woodies is gone, and the 200-odd people (including the only vegetarian Mr. Madras) who worked there must have been accommodated in other branches of the Woodlands chain. Many of them supposedly began work - as 10 to 12-year olds - when the new concept restaurant opened in 1962 and have forever been called 'boys', even after they had had children and grandchildren of their own. I do hope they are taken care of.

Woodies is gone, and the Government is getting plans for the botanical gardens ready. I hope they do not think that having a coffee shop in the middle of the planned gardens is a good idea. That would be an insult to the institution that was the Drive-In and a sore spot in the gardens themselves.

The poem is "Song of the Open Road", Ogden Nash, from 'Happy Days' (1933)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Choking the marsh

Just over a year ago, a large part of the Pallikaranai Marsh was declared a reserve forest area. While it was certainly a good deed in the cause of preserving the biodiversity of the estuarine ecosystem at Pallikaranai, what went ignored was the continued sanction to use a part of the wetland as a dumping ground.

The Pallikarani Marsh was home to over a 100 species of birds, besides having a variety of reptile, amphibian, insect and plant species. Unfortunately, it is immensely difficult to figure out how many remain. The smoke and stench from the dumping ground chase out even the most committed nature lover.

The Marsh has shrunk to less than half the area it occupied 15 years ago. The boom of Velachery as a commercial hotspot continues to put a lot of pressure on the land around the Marsh to be opened for development; that has been resisted, for the most part. But with the dumping ground spilling outside its allocated boundaries, it won't be long before the waste chokes the swamp - both on the ground and in the air. It is about time the Forest Department reclaimed the Marsh - not just on paper!

Monday, May 12, 2008

They don't make them like that anymore!

Over the years, the overhead water tanks maintained by the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) have been fading into irrelevance - the water demand in the area a water tank is expected to service outstrips the tank's capacity by over a dozen times, and supplies are not necessarily dependent on the water tank.

One probable reason that they haven't gone away completely is that they still remain key landmarks in many areas. Though many of them are plain and simple cylinders, there is one in Besant Nagar that should be preserved for the sheer adventurousness of the government architect. Apart from a gazebo-like structure at its top, the cylinder itself has six spurs radiating from it, each with a lotus bud (?), supported by a lion figure.

I don't think I have seen any other water tank in the city that displays such maverick design. Do tell me if you know of one!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Beyond the veil

The Church Park has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I have always known that some girls' school was located inside it. Had never tried to find out what it is called - Presentation Convent? St. Ursula's? Sacred Hearts? - until I had to make this post.

Adding to the enigma was the fact that one couldn't get to see the school buildings at all. On the Peters Road side, it was heavily wooded; and all along the Mount Road periphery were these huge movie hoardings that were such an integral part of Chennai. So there it was, a mystery wrapped in an enigma. And it remained that way until early last month, when the hoardings started coming down. The first time I saw the perimeter wall without the hoardings, I was so astounded that I
forgot to take pictures!

But now I have the picture. And I'm even more confused, because I see all the names - Presentation Convent, St. Ursula's, Sacred Hearts - and also Church Park, being used. I probably should be overcoming my ignorance of a fact known to every Chennai schoolboy; but now that the enigma layer has been shorn, I must ensure that the mystery is retained. So, even if you know the school name(s), don't tell me!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Menagerie City - 4

The TPL Building, at the corner of Cenotaph Road and Chittaranjan Road, has a frontage that seems to have been designed for beehives. Even though the building management cleans up the overhang and brings down the hives every once in a while, their number has only gone up. There were 3 when we began keeping track of their growth a couple of years ago and there are now 6; I'm sure we can expect more.

Their resilience is comforting for two reasons: one, that the building management is not completely averse to the hives being there (somebody must be making pocket money from having the honey collected once in a while?) and two, that within a reasonably short distance from the TPL building, there are enough flowers to sustain the growth of six colonies. The second is one more data point to show that Chennai is still not all concrete, there is some jungle, too!

Friday, May 9, 2008

More on the 'Park' theme...

West Chennai's answer to Tidel Park has been the Olympia Tech Park (OTP), across the road from the Guindy Industrial Estate. The Industrial Estate itself has been trying to re-emerge as a location of choice for new age industries; with a couple of large buildings, it is certainly not a location to be ignored, if one is interested in such things.

The OTP has come up where the Eveready factory used to be earlier. It does not obviously acknowledge its earlier avatar and has certainly been able to shake off any past associations. But it has not been able to establish itself as THE showpiece high-tech workplace in this part of the city, which is something that Tidel Park has been able to hold on to.

Being set close to the road, it does not have the 'grand entrance' feel that Tidel Park has; more so because the 3 buildings (Citius, Altius, Fortius) together do not have as much space as the one big block at Tidel does!

(Maybe I'm biased, having worked out of Tidel, and not even having visited OTP!)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Enter under

If you come into Chennai by air, your drive to the city will almost invariably face a bottleneck at the Kathipara junction. That's the point where the Grand Southern Trunk Road, Mount Poonamallee Road and the Jawaharlal Nehru Road meet up. But the bottleneck is not just about traffic; the grade separator at this junction, though nearly complete, currently contributes to a small part of the holdup.

A small part, now that the free-flow link between JN Road and GST Road has been open for a month. This photo was taken when going under that link, towards JN Road. In less than a year, those mounds of earth would have been replaced by greenery; all the links are expected to be operational before April 2009. And then, one can whiz through from the airport into the city in no time at all!

(Oh, yes. Traffic volume will still be a factor in your whizzing.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Fruit Shop

Footpaths on Chennai roads, if they exist, are often taken up by shops selling all kinds of things. For the most part, nobody really wants to move them away. They are useful mainly because they are everywhere, one can always manoeuvre around them - that slight inconvenience is set off by the economy of shopping at these footpath outlets.

Come summer, the number of such outlets seems to multiply rapidly. Many of them are of course seasonal, dedicated to the variety of fruits that summer brings with it. This shop on CP Ramaswamy Road is usually a small affair, just under the tree, with maybe 3 or 4 kinds of fruit. But now, it has spread itself out and has spilled onto the road. Of course the shop needs space; forget the 3 or 4 kinds - there are now some 6 kinds of mangoes alone. And then sweet lime, oranges, grapes, apples, pomegranates, sapota, bananas, musk melon.... I'm sure I've missed out on a few that fell outside the photo frame.

Colourful - and tempting!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Departure Gate

Somehow, it seems that most departures - and quite a lot of the arrivals, too - at the Aringar Anna International Terminal (the Chennai airport, in other words) happen after the sun goes down. I don't remember ever being at the international terminal in the daytime.

Wanted to take this photo, but was slightly apprehensive about it. Until a couple of years ago, taking photographs inside airports in India was illegal; with the growing number of mobile phones and cameras, the authorities just heaved a sigh and junked that section of the law, I guess. Still, the word might not have reached the cops on duty and I did not want to get into a debate with a policeman at 2.00 am. So, a quick photo and scoot!

Compared to the Chennai Central railway station, the airport seems completely impersonal - it certainly does not comes across as being symbolic of a proud heritage; people have far less time to gather around or to exchange notes. Entry into the building itself is restricted and no one would like to stand around outside, when there is nothing to do but just stand around! Not a great option at night - like I said, the terminal probably shuts down when the sun comes up.

(Is there anyone who has travelled out of this terminal during daylight hours? Just curious!)

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Eater's Digest - 2

Sometimes, you don't give credit to a good idea just because it has been in-your-face for a while. I had long assumed that this bakery on CP Ramaswamy Road was just one more of those many 'cake shops' over Chennai. It was only recently when they re-did their signage that I noticed the 3-way partnership that has created this enterprise; the Corporation of Chennai, Chennai Culinary Institute and the Rotary Club (Madras East).

Is there any other outlet of this bakery in the city? Would hate to think that it is just a one-shop initiative - so if you have seen any 'Winners' other than this one, do let me know where!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

No more letters

This building stands at the corner of a space that is otherwise taken by a BPO firm. Over the last century and more (109 years, says 'The Hindu'), this building has seen the bustle of clerks sending letters, maintaining their savings accounts and of course, waiting for news from (many?) loved ones. As the premises of the Santhome Post Office, it had prime location, across the road from the Santhome Bascilica; one can imagine all those expatriates coming over after the church service to see about their letters (oh, okay, they may not have kept it open on Sunday, though!).

The building was closed down last week. The owners decided it was unsafe for occupation and the tenants decided that the Mylapore Post Office, just a bit down Kutchery Road, was good enough to handle the traffic generated at the Santhome one also. It will be sad to see this tiled structure go down - thus taking down one more of Chennai's quaint buildings. But we must progress!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Playful Park?

A couple of years ago, one of my friends from Delhi misunderstood where I was going to on a workday morning. He thought I was going down to a beach for the day, while I was trying to let him know I was going to be working out of the most high-tech office space in the city. For a while there was confusion, while we were trying to understand what each other was saying.

To me, that bit of conversation highlighted how much part of us the Tidel Park has become. No one in Chennai will think of anything other than IT or ITES if you say 'Tidel' to them. But I must admit, it does sound like a theme park by the Bay of Bengal, fed by the tides!

The building itself looks grand and it is quite a good start to the IT Corridor - and to think that, less than 10 years ago, it was the beginning and the end of the Corridor!

Friday, May 2, 2008

A day later

Chennai has a claim to have had the first ever May Day rally in India, in 1923. The Marina Beach was Chennai's equivalent of London's Hyde Park and therefore a natural spot for Comrade Singaravelar, a labour union leader, to have a meeting there, calling for recognition of workers' rights; a demand that's still repeated every May Day in different parts of the world.

Until the installation of the 'Triumph of Labour' statute in 1959, there was probably no focal point for the various labour unions and workers' federations to rally around; since then, every May Day has seen the statue being cleaned, polished, garlanded and being the backdrop for speeches and rallies. The statue itself shows four men toiling to move a rock and was sculpted by Devi Prasad Roy Choudury, who was the first Indian principal of what is today the Tamil Nadu Government College of Fine Arts (then the Government of Madras School of Arts and Crafts). It is quite fitting that the statue is installed close to the site where the country's first commemoration of May Day was held.

Obviously the photo does not do it justice - but if it did, you might not need to go over and see it on the Marina!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Menagerie City - 3

The bullock carts still retain some of the market for intra-city transporting of material, though there are some restrictions on the times they are allowed to be on the main roads.

The loading of this cart took about two-and-a-half hours; again, no mechanised help on this effort. The bulls spent that time grazing around and preparing themselves for the haulage. And here, they are enjoying a last tasty tidbit before getting into action.