Monday, September 1, 2008

Sister act

A few days ago, about 14,000 km away from Chennai, a mile above sea level, history was made. A lady urged her supporters to transfer their allegiance to her one-time challenger, a man hoping to be the first African-American to rule USA; she came on pretty strongly, asking her party to make sure that the man is allowed to make history, something that she will now have to wait for her chance (if there can be one more) to do. One hopes that Hillary Clinton's call for party unity will help Barack Obama have a fair go at John McCain without worrying about saboteurs from within the ranks.

A similar display of unity was what was probably in mind when a city from the USSR became Chennai's first sister city. That was in 1966, when the Mayors of Stalingrad and Madras signed the Protocol of Friendship, establishing their sisterly ties. Since then, both cities have changed their names; Stalingrad is now Volgograd and Madras has moved on to be called Chennai. The second sister took a while in coming - it was in 1984 that Madras established a second sister city partnership. Today, Chennai has four sister cities, the two most recent being Frankfurt, Germany, in 2005 and San Antonio, Texas, USA, in February 2008. It was surprising to read that San Antonio had actually "outgunned Houston in securing a sister city agreement" with Chennai; I can't recall anything significant that has come out of the earlier sister city agreements. In fact, most of the cities appear fairly reticent about their siblings. The Corporation of Chennai website does not have any mention about its sisters; a search of the Alamo city's homepage throws up a couple of press releases about its Indian sister; Volgograd's website remains stuck in the past, continuing to show Karate Thiagarajan as the Mayor of Chennai. Frankfurt is like Chennai - no mention of sister cities on Frankfurt city's website.

Denver, Colorado, USA, where history was made on Thursday, is no exception; the city's website shows a 'City of Madras' Park. But thanks to a friend, I understand that action on the ground need not always get tom-tommed - the photograph that he sent me shows that the sign has been changed as 'City of Chennai Park'. So maybe there is a lot that is being done through the Sister City relationships that we don't get to see - and I hope we'll be able to find out what the benefits have been!

Today is 'Theme Day' for the City Daily Photo folks; there are 147 other 'sister cities' taking part in September's Theme Day. Click here to view thumbnails of all participants. Click'>">Click here to view thumbnails for all participants


Sally said...

An interesting post. I think the main benefit may be that Mayors of both places get to zoom around in the pointy end of jets occasionally - at least when the announcement is made!

Sydney Daily Photo

Gerald (SK14) said...

only seen a handful of theme posts so far but an ongoing theme seems to be the lack of knowledge and coverage of twinning schemes on official websites.

USelaine said...

It seems to be schools and business groups who do the connecting. Nice to see they changed the sign.

Jane Hards Photography said...

It is surprising how little information there is out there. I am a very small town and ven we have a sister city that have been so helpful.

Isadora said...

So much information from a project like this. Thank you!

Sherry said...

Sister cities is a great concept. It would be nice to know what actually goes on behind the scenes that we never hear about. My town has one sister city in South America, but I have never seen anything around town to indicate a relationship.

Julie said...

Thank you for this information on the twin cities for Chennai. I am glad that you could cooperate to get the photograph and at least realise that some parts of the world keep up to date.

Informative post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

good search Shantaram ..... loved the picture and seeing something about Chennai there in Denver.


Anonymous said...

A very interesting post on the ins and outs of sister city links.

Avignon has the list of its eight sister cities on its website along with a short description of each.

Olivier said...

nous avons à Evry, une association qui gère les relations avec nos villes jumelles, et elle propose des rencontres entre élèves des villes.

In Evry, an association that manages relations with our twin cities, and it proposes meetings between students in cities.

Anonymous said...

thank you for the lot of information!:)Its amazing to browse among the DP blogs today.

Janet Kincaid said...

Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the DNC Convention was electrifying. I hope my fellow citizens are wise in their selection of new leadership this November. We have too much at stake at home and abroad to repeat the last eight years.

As for your sister city, Denver is a lovely city and a worthy partner for Chennai!

Shantaram said...

>> Sally>> Maybe that's why they sign twice, once at each city :D

>> Gerald>> You're right - that has been repeated throughout, hasn't it?

>> Elaine>> The changed sign was a pleasant surprise!

>> Babooshka>> Maybe the smaller the cities, the better their relationships!

>> Isadora>> Glad you liked it! Enjoyed your Budapest DP blog as well!

>> Sherry>> That seems to be true about most sister cities!

>> Julie>> Thank you for stopping by, and the comment. Had fun finding out about all those sisters!

>> Ram>> Yes, it was cool when I first saw the sign... we should try to have one of the parks named 'City of Denver Park'!!

>> Nathalie>> Avignon is really with it! Thanks for stopping by!!

>> Oliver>> C'est une belle idee, the meeting of students - wonder if we do anything like it here! (Couldn't resist trying out my French.... :D)

>> Zsolt>> Thank you for stopping by - you're right, got to know a lot about a lot of cities!

>> DC>> Well, it seems to be a really close one to call... and yes, there are many outside the USA praying that Americans will be wise in choosing!