Monday, June 30, 2008

Cleared for landing

St. Thomas Mount is well known for quite a few reasons, not the least of which is the legend of it being the site of St. Thomas' martyrdom. There are many lesser reasons - one of which will appear tomorrow - but for me, the hill is associated with two images.

The first is of a huge cross, at the crest of the hill, almost at its very edge. That's my first memory of any kind of Christian image. But what was exciting about going up the hill was the wonderful view it gave of airplanes coming in to land - you stand at the the east end of the hilltop, sight the silhouette of the approaching plane, wait for it to go past you and then run across the church yard (more about the church another day) to watch it drop onto the runway of the Meenambakkam airport. Thirty years ago there were probably 4 landings a day - but during last week's trip up the hill, we saw 4 in the space of about half-an-hour.

And we watched this Sri Lankan airlines flight from Colombo, coming in from over the Bay of Bengal to the east, all the way through the last stage of its flight. There is not much of Chennai that can be identified in this picture, but I'm sure you'll take my word that it is indeed the city that was Madras!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back to books

With many of the arts and science colleges under the University of Madras re-opening last week after their summer vacations, it is time to look at where it all started - the first building of the University, situated on the Marina Beach.

The University of Madras is one of the oldest in the country, having been set up in 1857 by the then Governer of the Madras Presidency, Rt Hon. Lord John Elphinstone. The first permanent building of the University was its Senate House, the designs for which were chosen through an open competition. The winner was Robert Fellowes Chisholm (who seems to have built half the buildings in Madras of that period), who designed it as a blend of Byzantine and Indo-Saracenic styles and then went ahead in sourcing the finest materials for its construction. Anything less may not have withstood the neglect heaped upon this heritage building through the 1970-2000 period.

But what we see today is a picture of what can be accomplished by committed authorities and benevolent alumni, working together with conservation and heritage experts. The Senate House was renovated - extensively and lovingly - in time for the 150th anniversary of the University. It is a wonderful sight today as it welcomes another batch of 'freshers' across the city!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Play it forever, Sam!

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, the first of only two officers to hold that rank in the Indian Army, died in Wellington (Tamil Nadu, India) early last morning. The 94-year old soldier's soldier had outflanked death at least once before; as a Captain in the Burma campaign during the II World War, he had taken a burst of machine gun bullets to his stomach. His condition was so precarious that he was awarded the Military Cross - that honour is not awarded posthumously - on the battlefield itself. But ever the fighter, he survived and went on to gather several more awards, including the Padma Vibhushan. And beyond all that, he was a man who lived his life to the full, with a smile under his mustache and a twinkle in his eye, whatever the occasion be.

I am unable to think of anything that specifically connects this proud soldier to Chennai - but then, anything to do with the Indian Army must have had something to do with its Field Marshal too. With that reasoning, here's a picture of the gateway to the Officers Training Academy, Chennai. I am sure 'Sam Bahadur' will be glad, because few others can have a better claim to having 'Served with Honour'!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Big brother

Though his term as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu was among the shortest - just under two years, between 1967 and 1969 - C.N.Annadurai was a powerful force in the political arena of the state. So much so that there is almost no place in Chennai that does not have something or the other to do with the first non-Congress Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

Mount Road was renamed Anna Salai, after Annadurai's death in 1969. When the state government set up its first technological university in 1978, they named it Peraringar Anna Universtity of Technology (thankfully it was changed to Anna University later: imagine the credentialling agencies outside India - no, outside Tamil Nadu - trying to get their tongues around the earlier name! The Indian IT revolution may not have quite taken off!!). The first planned layout in Madras - Anna Nagar. We could go on playing this game, but you get the point.

Anna -that means 'elder brother' in Tamil - is certainly omnipresent. For quite a while, the state publicity cell even used the obelisk in his memorial on Marina Beach as their logo!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Euro fever?

"That's a special tower for transmission of secret messages". Once these words had been whispered, it was a big risk to ask anyone what it actually was, because you could then be the target of sustained cross-examination. This was the considered wisdom during school days, when this building came up to mark the centenary of the Madras Port. Therefore, like many other everyday sights, the 'football' on top of this building remains an unexplained oddity.

The Chennai Port Trust does encourage a lot of sporting activity; it is however improbable that they have placed this as a monument to their football legacy. Though I took this photograph a few weeks ago, I thought I would post it only after I have better information about what that globe is all about. Now, I feel that I would not get any wiser - the few people I have asked are irritated at me, for having teased their curiosity - and so, I hope posting this photo will at least bring up some plausible theories as to the purpose of the topping.

It is also Euro fever in a way: was watching the Germany - Turkey match last night when I remembered this photo!

Added on July 6, 2008: I've found out what that globe is for. A cousin who works for the Chennai Port Trust tells me that the globe houses a meteorological radar and other met equipment, since the docks need data on a more real-time basis than what the Met department provides!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Going around the city

Just at the south-western edge of the city, this road finally begins justifying its fancy name. For a fair stretch, as it struggles to get out of the city, the Grand Southern Trunk Road appears to be neither grand nor a trunk road. But leaving Tambaram behind, it climbs up to the NH (National Highway) 45 and screams away to the cities of south Tamil Nadu, finally taking the opportunity of showing off its adjectives.

But if you want to stay up north, you can drift left to the curve that takes you northbound and get on to the Chennai Bypass. And then, you can skirt along the western edge and choose to get back in to the city at Porur. Or you could go all the way to Maduraivoyal before making a decision to either go further west, on to Bangalore or to turn east and go up Poonamallee High Road all the way to Fort St George.

What would you choose to do today?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ready for a ride

Some cities feature them as a tourist attraction. I remember reading about them waiting to take tourists around Central Park in New York City and I am sure some of the other great cities have them too. They probably serve as a reminder of the time when these vehicles were the swankiest transport available. Some other places have them as a viable transport alternative - fuelled by the tourist traffic, but not necessarily an attraction in themselves (think Agra, for example).

Chennai is neither here nor there; horse carriages as taxis probably did not last long enough for folks to start getting nostalgic about them. They were however used by a quite a few - the rich had their own chariot-like pieces, and the common man would share the cramped, roofed carriage. Today, in Chennai as in many other places, horse carriages are used for special occasions - typically, wedding processions. I passed by this one and then pulled over to wait for it; with new upholstery and the horses looking recently groomed, I am sure they had an engagement for the evening.

Neither the horses nor the carriage-man gave me a second glance. But then, none of the other passers-by, either on foot or in vehicles, cared to show any interest in this not-so-usual fellow traveller!

Monday, June 23, 2008

What are we doing here?

I'll start off by letting you in on a secret: this bird is not a common sight on the streets of Chennai. You knew that already? Okay then, tell me, where can we find ostriches in Chennai? If you said "Vandalur zoo", I'll have to excercise quizmaster's discretion and say "Wrong answer" - because that's not the answer I was looking for!

The Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) carries out research on various kinds of animals at its Livestock Research Station at Kattupakkam. About ten years ago, they decided to extend their research to ostriches and figure out how they can be an addition to the diet of the locals. Of course, there are challenges to be overcome - climate, feed, breeding, not to mention acceptance of ostrich meat as an alternate to chicken - and it will take a while longer before ostrich breeding can become commercially viable. Until then, ostriches will remain an oddity in Chennai.

My last visit to the 'Ostrich Farm' was about four years ago. There are many more of the birds around now; hearteningly, the breeding programme has resulted in quite a few chicks. In the picture are a pair of sub-adult birds - the female seems to be too shy to show her face to the photographer!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Scotland on your ears

I remember being especially fascinated by two signs in my childhood. The first was outside the Officers Training Academy and said "Officers Mess". I couldn't understand why army officers would advertise their lapse into sloppiness in such fashion. The other one was much further away, in Egmore, and said "St. Andrew's Church. The Kirk". The last word sounded so much like 'kirukku' - Tamil for 'madness' - that I was worried about going near the place!

The Kirk reminds us that it was the British who were in India, not just the English. Dedicated in 1821, it was built mainly for the Scotsmen from the British Army and even today, continues to belong to the Scottish Presbyterian tradition. Apart from meeting the spiritual needs of its members, The Kirk was the home of Madras Christian College, one of the oldest colleges in the country.

The current administration has been undertaking a Master Restoration Programme to properly preserve the heritage of this wonderful building, as well as its continued use as a place of worship. And by doing so, they will continue to let Chennai residents learn their first Scottish word!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The grandfather of clocks

Though the bus stop sign says that time does not stop here, the building of P.Orr & Sons seems to have succeeded in pausing the clock for a long time. Another of the old Madras landmarks, it has been around for a hundred and twenty-five years and has aged far more gracefully than many of its contemporaries. There have been some modifications to Robert Chisholm's original design, including an additional turret over the clock-face, but the biggest change has been the shutting down of the workshops that were right behind the showroom.

Those workshops were once bustling: apart from selling watches, with which P.Orr is synonymous even today, the firm was also the leading goldsmith and jeweller, not just to Madras society, but across South India (and also Burma, Ceylon and Malaya). Over its life, it had also diversified into other businesses - engineering products, arms & ammunition, automobiles. It was probably the last that provided the bait for the Amalgamations Group to buy the firm in the late 1950s, though they hived it off in 1967 to Karumuthu Thiagaraja Chettiar, whose family continues to run the business.

P.Orr has expanded - apart from their flagship showroom here on Mount Road, they have 6 other branches; 4 in Chennai itself and 2 outside the city. Their current diversification into mobile phones is just to make sure they are up to speed on all ways of telling time!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Banking with colours

Yesterday, when I walked in to my bank branch, I felt there was something different about the place. It is always quite crowded with posters for term deposits, mutual funds and such like, and every once in a while, their promotional material is changed or moved around. My first inclination was to see what new products they were advertising. But no, the difference was not because of any new credit card or real-estate fund or any banking product.

I realized the answer was above my head; festooned around the banking hall were sheets with paintings - some more colourful, some less so, but all of them done with unbridled enthusiasm. A few of them had gone into a great level of detailing, others had covered every bit of available space on the sheet with colour. Turns out that the branch had conducted a painting competition for kids (6 - 12 year olds) of a neighbouring apartment complex over the weekend. The output will decorate the branch for a few more days.

I wonder if the bankers see any 'investment potential' in these artists - I would surely like to stock up many of the 'early works' on display here!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What's that pedestal?

The Ramayanam is considered one of India's great epics, if not the greatest. Any re-telling of this saga has always been looked upon with interest and in recent years, with an eye on the vote-banks. In the 12th century CE, vote-banks wouldn't have been a factor; Kambar would have been attempting to bring contemporary relevance to Valmiki's 500-year old work by rendering it in Tamil, the language of his homeland. It is well acknowledged that Kambar's work is not a translation; he is supposed to have re-told the story in a crisper and more musical fashion, popularising it in a region where it was little heard of earlier.

But his legacy was put through the political wringer. For various reasons, the political system of 1950s Tamil Nadu knocked Kambar down at every opportunity. In 1968, when the World Tamil Conference was being held in Chennai, it was impossible to ignore Kambar (even though his greatest detractors were in power) and so this statue came up on the Marina. And yet, there was a subtle knock; while Kambar is generally referred to as Kavi Chakravarthi (emperor of poets), the description on the pedestal here titles him Kaviarasar (king of poets)!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lord of all it surveys

Even though Chennai is a medium sized city at 176 square km, it is only about one-seventh the area of the 'urban agglomeration' around it. With a population density of about 7000 per sqkm, space needs to be used optimally. And being a city that is close to 400 years old, building and urban development of the city has been subject to more than its share of prevailing fads and fashions.

The latest in the fashion cycle, controlling the development and plans for the city, is the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), constituted in 1974. Headquartered in this building at Egmore, it reaches out to almost 50 local government authorities (corporations, municipalities panchayat unions and town panchayats). You can imagine the amount of red-tape one needs to unravel to have a construction plan approved or any aspect of the construction validated. Much better to let the builders and property developers do the tape-twisting for us!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lucky greens

While waiting to tee off at the 14th hole of the TNGF-Cosmopolitan Club golf course last week, I noticed that the tops of the walls had a new glint to them. Okay, I haven't been on the course for a while, but the wall-tops aren't that old, anyway. This 'architechtural' feature used to be very widespread, but seems to have dropped out of favour, at least in some of the larger residential /commercial building complexes.

As kids playing cricket, the rule around such glass-topped walls was simple: if the batsman hit the ball over it, not only would he have to run a long way around to bring the ball back, but he would also be out. Superstition was that taking a hard look at the jagged shards (and maybe some muttered incantations) before bowling would induce the batsman to hit the ball over them - and fetch a wicket for the bowler.

Some vague memory of that came back and not only did I take a long, hard look, but also pulled out my camera and took this photo. (If you know your Chennai, that's Panagal Buildings in the background, right behind the green neck). Sure enough, some luck came my way - made par (4) on the 14th and, for the first time in 9 months of playing golf, made a birdie on the par-5 16th - yay!

Monday, June 16, 2008

What interest rates?

With so much talk of inflation, growth slowdown and rising interest rates happening all around us, it is probably a good idea to visit a different kind of bank once in a while. If you are interested in crocodilians, Chennai is a good place to be. The Crocodile Bank (technically outside the city limits) is just a short drive down the scenic East Coast Road. Though it seems to have a majority of crocodilians, there are actually many more reptiles in this Bank; venom extraction, for preparation of anti-venom serum is done in public view - and these shows are always thickly attended.

Another popular attraction is the space for visitors to hold a baby crocodile - with open jaws, it appears very threatening, but is quite content to relax in your hands, as long as you're holding it right!

If you promise not to scream when you see the crocs, you may click on this link to see more pictures from our visit to the Crocodile Bank.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Beautiful - at rest

Childhood memories of summer in Madras include a sequence where people in thatch-roof huts run out screaming, followed a short while by the sirens of the fire engine arriving on the scene. There were always multiple causes assigned to how the fire started - open stove, breeze blowing through, dry thatch... and then those consipracy theorists who averred that the fires were started by the local goons so as to muscle in to a share of the compensation that the local government would invariably pay.

Thankfully, those sequences have become rarer. I can't recall the last time I saw a fire engine cleave through traffic, rushing to the rescue. I'm not saying they are completely unused - enough mishaps occur in commercial and industrial areas to keep the Tamil Nadu Fire & Rescue Services personnel on their toes - but the number of serious fires in houses appears to have come down. It is always much nicer to see these shiny red vehicles standing still!

(The guard on duty was not very amused to see me taking photographs from across the road; but before he could get really angry, I had taken all I needed!)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

An icy heritage

Fredric Tudor, a Boston native, could smell a business opportunity half-a-world away. Learning that the heat in India was causing acute discomfort to the British, Mr. Tudor packed a ship with tons of ice cut from New England's rivers and sent it off to Calcutta - a journey of about 25,000 km, which took over 3 months to be completed. This test run was so successful that he built an 'Ice House' in each of the 3 Presidencies - Calcutta, Madras and Bombay.

The business didn't last for too long and the Ice House in Madras was bought by Biligiri Iyengar, a senior advocate of the Madras High Court. Designed to store ice, the building was ill-suited as a residence. Though Biligiri Iyengar tried various things, such as adding a verandah and renaming the building 'Castle Kernan', he could not live in it. However, it was a wonderful location to host Swami Vivekananda, returning to India in 1897 from his triumphant tour of the Western world. That was probably the high point of the building's history.

By 1963, Castle Kernan was in the hands of the government; the building was renamed Vivekanandar Illam (House of Vivekananda) to mark the Swamiji's birth centenary. In 1997, the building was leased to the Ramakrishna Mission to set up a permanent exhibition on Swamiji's life. But this permanent exhibition is on a lease that runs out in 2010 - hopefully, it will be renewed before that, and the diverse history of the building preserved for a long, long time.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hard work shall lead to enlightenment

To many high school students in India, the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) are a sure path to enlightenment. I am not sure what the mottos of the other 6 IITs are, but that of IIT Madras does the task of both advising aspirants and exhorting its students. The Sanskrit phrase Siddhirbhavathi karmaja, taken from the Bhagavad Gita is a motto shared by both the IIT Madras and the MNNIT, Allahabad and translates as the title to this post.

Getting into the MNNIT is a breeze compared to the competition for seats at the IIT. The 'Caution' sign at the entrance to IIT Madras (at left, near the institute's logo) seems to warn off any pretenders. Still, I try to go in every chance I get; there is surely no other campus in Chennai that has a 'Deer Crossing' sign posted right at the entrance. And there are only very few others that have the lush greenery that covers most of the campus of IIT Madras. I do envy its students and alumni!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

And why is this here?

I like this photo. Without meaning to, I seem to have got a picture that shows stillness - and quiet - in the middle of one of the more crowded parts of Chennai. I hadn't seen this statue (it does seem too small to be called one, doesn't it?) at the Gemini Circle earlier. I'm fairly sure it was added on sometime at the end of May.

As with some of the other statues around the city, this one too does not seem to have any particular significance and looks to be a random act on the part of some authority. Having first noticed it from the rear, I just had to go around and take pictures from the other side also. Apart from the work itself looking much better from the rear, the other pictures did not convey the feeling of serenity in this one. If you've passed through Gemini Circle during peak hour traffic, you'll surely know we could do with a lot of calm at that spot!

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?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Last flowers

Having begun its flowering season in early April, the Indian laburnum (cassia fistula) is well past its best-looking days by this time. The first blooms of this flower coincide with Vishu, the new year / harvest festival of Kerala (the neighbour state, to the west). Traditionally, these blooms are arranged, along with fruits, rice, clothes, ornaments and images of Gods and Godesses, to be the Vishukani (first sight of Vishu), signifying a bountiful year ahead. Keralites everywhere attempt to re-create the Vishukani with locally available flowers; but those in Chennai are lucky to have the laburnum in good numbers across the city.

By early June, the trees are no longer the 'golden showers' they were a few weeks ago. The leaves have turned back to green from the yellow of April; the flowers are far fewer. And by the end of June they go back to their relative anonymity, waiting for nine months to bring forth the next episode of a dazzling life!

Monday, June 9, 2008

A faithful subject

Goday Narayana Gajapathi Rao has good reason to be thankful to Queen Victoria. It was she who, in 1881, elevated him from being a zamindar (holder of land) to being a Raja (King). The newly annointed Raja looked around for a fitting gesture of gratitude and decided on a statue in honour of the Queen Empress. And he timed it well; the statue took a while to be completed, but was ready in time for the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

And so the statue was unveiled on June 20, 1887. It was placed near the main entrance to the Senate House (of the University of Madras), on its southern side, looking across the road to the Chepauk Palace. Initially, the gates were right next to the statue and everyone coming in to the Senate House had to pass her scrutiny. Over time, the entrance gates shifted westwards. The statue moved out of immediate line-of-sight and now, it takes an effort for the preoccupied passer-by on Wallajah Road to look up and see the Queen.

Raja Goday's gratitude thankfully did not end with putting up this statue. He also founded the Victoria Diamond Jubilee Medical School in Vizagapatnam. It is quite likely he would be very upset with the way things are today - his Queen's statue ignored and the medical school renamed as Andhra Medical College. I wonder what the faithful subject would say!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lumber yard

Incongruous - a yard that stocks a lot of casuarina poles and quite a few tyres, right on Mount Road, just as you get off the southern end of the Gemini Flyover. Scaffolding may have gone high-tech, with baseplates, transoms and guardrails; but there is still enough demand for the 'traditional' scaffolding within Chennai to justify the presence of this yard.

And yes, the milestone says that Chennai is 5 km away. That actually means 5 km away from 'zero stone', which was near Fort St George, at Parry's Corner. (is the zero stone still standing? - must look that up sometime).

Wonder how much longer this business will go on; casuarina scaffolding is well on the way to joining the Madras Terrace and suchlike classics of yesteryear construction technology - we can see some of the latest being deployed whenever this lumber yard gives way to a new building.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Clock - ahem! - tower

No, I agree with you. This is no clock tower, but just a clock. But I couldn't resist putting this one up. I still haven't had a good chance to take pictures of the Marina Beach, though I'd expressed that intent in an earlier post; so, this is a partial make-up, taken as I waited for the signal to turn green. And I'm on the trail of stand-alone clock towers, remember?

But then, this clock is different in another way - I know the occasion it was meant to commemorate. Even though Simpson & Co. has not splashed it about, putting up this clock was one of the things that Simpsons did to celebrate their sesquicentennial - their 150th anniversary. The reason for reticence probably is that while it is generally accepted that Simpson & Co., was established some time in the very early 1840s, the exact date remains a mystery. Even the Amalgamations Group's website says about Simpson & Co., ".....its origins dating back to 1840" - delightfully vague!

Friday, June 6, 2008

And the road widens

"Alright, gentlemen, we need some space. So we're just gonna smash in your walls, level the ground, roll it over with some tar and let the public have a less congested passage through this junction." I am sure that's not how it was phrased, but on three sides of the Radhakrishnan Salai - TTK Road junction, businesses (and the Music Academy) have had their limits redefined, rather arbitrarily. The fourth side, with the Good Shepherd Church had a slightly wider stretch of road beside it anyway and so was spared the agony - for now.

Some of the businesses have been slow to re-build their boundary walls; or maybe they were waiting for the road laying to get done. It was a strange sight at peak hours, to see a bank of parked vehicles right next to a stream of them trying everything they can to get ahead - thankfully, it did not flood the banks!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hot property

Tarapore Towers, where Mount Road forks off towards Chindadiripet, is a building that has a reasonably fascinating history. But even then, it really couldn't compete for public interest, all of which was usually centered on the LIC building, hardly a kilometre away to the south, on Mount Road itself. That was how it was, until the building hosted this large sign on its terrace.

If I remember right, this was the first public LED display that came up in Chennai, over 25 years ago. And even if I remember wrong, this is certainly the one that has survived for the longest time! It normally shows the time and the temperature, sandwiched by advertisements - most of which are for MRF, a Chennai-based tyre manufacturer.

Thanks to the sign, the Tarapore Towers has claimed its rightful place as a Chennai landmark; and yes, the city is that hot at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A meeting

A 'General Council Meeting' of any political party is an excuse for the party's functionaries (and their assorted wannabies and hangers-on) from all over to descend on to the host city. While the functionaries themselves may be actually doing some party work, the entourage is let loose to enjoy themselves around the city. And some of them believe that the success of their visit is directly proportional to the inconvenience that the city is put to - at such times, sanity rarely raises its voice.

Preparations for the meeting include putting up party flags, buntings, vinyl cutouts, posters, coloured lights and anything else that the local unit can think up. Thankfully, I did not get stuck due to such a meeting of the DMK (the party ruling the state of Tamil Nadu, of which Chennai is the capital) that happened on Monday. Managed to take this photo of the preparations a day ahead - the Music Academy flyover on Radhakrishnan Salai being lined with party flags!

Am away from Chennai for a few days - will back on Sunday, after a short visit to Dubai. But will keep this going, hopefully without having to resort to 'Schedule Post' option

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

In the bag

Schools in Chennai are set to re-open in early June, after summer break. Several began classes yesterday, and between the 2nd and 16th of June, all of them would be up and running. Those run by the Corporation of Chennai have pushed their start date back by a week, hoping that it will be cooler (okay, make that 'less hot') by June 9.

My son is away visiting my sisters and will be back just the day before his school starts. So here we are, getting stuff ready for him. Decided to pick up his school bag from a 'specialist' store - while this one is normally full of travel / office bags, it is now given over almost entirely to school bags. As you can see, they've got all kinds of pictures on them - Disney stuff, superheroes, Power Rangers..... Ended up picking one that did not have any picture at all. Even if he doesn't like it too much, we hope that he will be mollified that we picked it up from a shop which has his name!

Monday, June 2, 2008

To next year, and the trophy

I must say I am impressed with my restraint; didn't do a single cricket related post in the first 50 days. It was tough to ignore cricket with the IPL T20 tournament going on for 45 of those 50 days, but I did it! Now that the tournament is over, these guards (!) at Chepauk stadium (the M.A.Chidambaram stadium at Chepauk, more properly) will go away and folks all over India will find something to do between 7 and 11 in the evenings. (Is it likely that the walls around the stadium will stay the Super Kings yellow?)

I took a lot of flak with my predictions; had said that Chennai will beat Deccan Chargers to reach the semi finals, will beat Kings XI Punjab to reach the finals and will then lose to Rajasthan Royals. Strangely, few debated the last part, until yesterday - such unbelievers, to not know that Chennai will reach the finals! And then they accuse me of not supporting my team - hrrumph!!

No, it is too early for next year's predictions. I have no idea which other team will be in the final. But the trophy, it will be brought to Chennai!

PS: If you do not know what the IPL T20 tournament was all about, you are lucky! But if you insist on knowing, here's the Wikipedia entry about cricket.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

First time on 'Theme Day'

After having registered for the Theme Day on the City Daily Photo portal, I was wondering if I should pull out; my nearest corner shop is a coconut seller, a squatter who has taken over not just the corner, but a significant part of the street as well! I did not want him to have the honour of being featured as the 50th photo on my blog!!

And then I saw this one, when I had stopped for the Vepery clock tower photo. On the corner of Perambur Barracks Road and Thiru Narayana Guru Road, it certainly drives in its positioning. As you can see, it is very focussed, selling only footwear. Apparently, the 'New' came in to signify an ownership change many, many years ago; even the employees have forgotten how long ago that was!

The CityDailyPhoto bloggers community marks the 1st of each month with a theme and there are 174 blogs participating this month. You may either see the entire collection of thumbnails or you can pick your cities from the list below - and then guess what the theme for June 1 is!

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

Adelaide, Australia by Gordon, Afyonkarahisar, Turkey by afyonblog, Albuquerque (NM), USA by Helen, American Fork (UT), USA by Annie, Anderson (SC), USA by Lessie, Ararat, Australia by Digger, Arradon, France by Alice, Ashton under Lyne, UK by Pennine, Aspen (CO), USA by IamMBB, Athens, Greece by Debbie, Auckland, New Zealand by Lachezar, Austin (TX), USA by LB, Avignon, France by Nathalie, Barrow-in-Furness, UK by Enitharmon, Barton (VT), USA by Andree, Belgrade, Serbia by Bibi, Belgrade, Serbia by BgdPic, Bellefonte (PA), USA by Barb-n-PA, Bicheno, Australia by Greg, Bogor, Indonesia by Gagah, Boston (MA), USA by Sarah, Whit, & Leyre, Brookville (OH), USA by Abraham, Bucharest, Romania by Malpraxis, Budapest, Hungary by Zannnie and Zsolt, Budapest, Hungary by agrajag, Buenos Aires, Argentina by Karine, Canterbury, UK by Rose, Cape Town, South Africa by Kerry-Anne, Cavite, Philippines by cavitedailyphoto, Chandler (AZ), USA by Melindaduff, Château-Gontier, France by Laurent, Chateaubriant, France by Bergson, Cheltenham, UK by Marley, Chennai, India by Ram N, Chennai, India by Shantaram, Chicago (IL), USA by U R us, Cleveland (OH), USA by iBlowfish, Coral Gables (FL), USA by Jnstropic, Corsicana (TX), USA by Lake Lady, Durban, South Africa by CrazyCow, Edinburgh, UK by Dido, Evry, France by Olivier, Folkestone, UK by Clare Unsworth, Forks (WA), USA by Corinne, Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA by Gigi, Gainesville (FL), USA by Leah, Geneva (IL), USA by Kelly, Glasgow, Scotland by Jackie, Greenville (SC), USA by Denton, Gun Barrel City (TX), USA by Lake Lady, Hamilton, New Zealand by Sakiwi, Hangzhou, China by Chanin, Haninge, Sweden by Steffe, Helsinki, Finland by Kaa, Hobart, Australia by Greg, Hyde, UK by Gerald, Hyde, UK by Old Hyde, Jackson (MS), USA by Halcyon, Jefferson City (MO), USA by Chinamom2005, Jogjakarta, Indonesia by Jogja Portrait, Katonah (NY), USA by Inkster1, Knoxville (TN), USA by Knoxville Girl, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Edwin, Kyoto, Japan by Tadamine, Larchmont (NY), USA by Marie-Noyale, Las Vegas (NV), USA by Mo, Le Guilvinec, France by ds2944, Lisbon, Portugal by Maria João, Lisbon, Portugal by Sailor Girl, Lodz, Poland by ritalounge, London, UK by Ham, London, UK by Mo, Los Angeles (CA), USA by Martha Perez, Mainz, Germany by JB, Manila, Philippines by Heyokity, Melbourne, Australia by John, Memphis (TN), USA by SouthernHeart, Menton, France by Jilly, Mexico City, Mexico by Carraol, Mexico City, Mexico by Poly, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Greg, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Mitch, Misawa, Japan by misawa mama, Monroe (GA), USA by Tanya, Monte Carlo, Monaco by Jilly, Montego Bay, Jamaica by Ann, Monterrey, Mexico by rafa, Moscow, Russia by Irina, Mumbai, India by MumbaiiteAnu, Mumbai, India by Magiceye, Nancy, France by yoshi, Nashville (TN), USA by Chris, Nelson, New Zealand by Meg and Ben, New Delhi, India by Delhi Photo Diary, New Orleans (LA), USA by steve buser, New York City (NY), USA by • Eliane •, New York City (NY), USA by Ming the Merciless, Norwich, UK by Goddess888, Oklahoma City (OK), USA by ananda.tashie, Orlando (FL), USA by OrlFla, Oslo, Norway by Lothiane, Owasso (OK), USA by Jennifer, Paderborn, Germany by Soemchen, Paris, France by Eric, Pasadena (CA), USA by Can8ianben, Pasadena (CA), USA by Petrea, Perth, Australia by Elevation7, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia by Murphy_jay, Petoskey (MI), USA by Christie, Pilisvörösvár, Hungary by Elise, Port Angeles (WA), USA by Jelvistar, Port Elizabeth, South Africa by Sam, Port Townsend (WA), USA by raf, Portland (ME), USA by Corey, Posadas, Argentina by Lega, Prague, Czech Republic by Honza03, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea by Jules, Ramsey, Isle of Man by babooshka, Reykjavik, Iceland by Vírgíll, Riga, Latvia by , Rotterdam, Netherlands by Ineke, Rouen, France by Bbsato, Saarbrücken, Germany by LadyDemeter, Saigon, Vietnam by Simon, Saint Louis (MO), USA by Strangetastes, Saint Paul (MN), USA by Kate, Salt Lake City (UT), USA by Eric, San Antonio (TX), USA by Kramer, San Diego (CA), USA by Zentmrs, San Francisco (CA), USA by PFranson, San Francisco (CA), USA by Louis la Vache, Seattle (WA), USA by Kim, Seattle (WA), USA by Chuck, Selma (AL), USA by RamblingRound, Seoul, South Korea by Phil, Sequim (WA), USA by Norma, Sesimbra, Portugal by Aldeia, Setúbal, Portugal by Maria Elisa, Singapore, Singapore by Keropok, Sofia, Bulgaria by Antonia, Springfield (IL), USA by Aubrey, Stavanger, Norway by Tanty, Stayton (OR), USA by Celine, Stockholm, Sweden by Stromsjo, Stouffville, Canada by Ken, Subang Jaya, Malaysia by JC, Sunshine Coast, Australia by bitingmidge, Sydney, Australia by Julie, Sydney, Australia by Sally, Sydney, Australia by Ann, Székesfehérvár, Hungary by Teomo, Tacloban City, Philippines by agnesdv, Tel-Aviv, Israel by Olga, Terrell (TX), USA by Bstexas, Terrell (TX), USA by Jim K, The Hague, Netherlands by Lezard, Tokyo, Japan by Tadamine, Torino, Italy by Fabrizio, Torun, Poland by Glenn, Torun, Poland by Torun Observer, Toulouse, France by Julia, Turin, Italy by Livio, Twin Cities (MN), USA by Slinger, Victoria, Canada by Benjamin Madison, Vienna, Austria by G_mirage2, Wailea (HI), USA by Kuanyin, Wassenaar, Netherlands by Rich, Wellington, New Zealand by Jeremyb, West Paris (ME), USA by crittoria, West Sacramento (CA), USA by Barbara, Weston (FL), USA by WestonDailyPhoto, Willits (CA), USA by Elaine, Yardley (PA), USA by Mrlynn,