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!

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