Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's a letter; it's a train...'s a newspaper!

One of the earliest dailies of Madras, The Madras Mail (later The Mail) had a unique position as the evening paper of Chennai. In the days when newspaper distribution was in its infancy, the big-city eveninger could get on to trains out of the city and parade as a morning paper in smaller towns that were an overnight journey away. The Mail did exactly that, riding its reputation as the voice of south India, refusing to take on The Hindu of the morning.

By the late '60s, The Mail was running out of steam, unsure of what it wanted to be. And the Amalgamations Group, which had come to own the paper when they bought Associated Publishers in 1945, seemed to largely ignore it, despite celebrating its centenary in 1968. I like to imagine that the only reason for the building to remain standing is its potential as a jump-off point for the group's entry into media!

The original masthead - replicated on the building - is interesting. Does it show undivided India (including what are now Pakistan and Bangladesh), or is it some other emblem entirely? Has there been an attempt to modify it? Whatever be the case, the paper itself was 'put to bed' in 1981 and hasn't woken up since - probably never will.

PS: Is the scaffolding here from the same lumber yard?

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