Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Old world

No, this is not from the English countryside, even if the names of the houses in this part of Chennai try to fool you into thinking so. "East View". "Suffolk Lodge". "Starbrena". Even "Whitehall". Tucked away behind the old English Electric (now Areva) factory at Pallavaram is this street, and a few others like it, together making up the Veteran Lines - one of the last few enclaves of the Anglo-Indian community in Chennai.

Veteran Lines started off simply as what it claimed to be. Outside the military cantonment of Pallavaram, but close enough to remind them of the army life, it was a designed as a residential area for military personnel, especially retired ones. The majority of them who moved into the houses were Anglo-Indians, who put their cultural stamp on the area through their dance and music - not to mention their particular turn of speech. I suddenly find myself unable to reproduce it, not having heard it for many many years. It was all around me once, even into the early 1990s. But now it is gone, as have many of the young Anglo-Indians of Madras. They are all away, England, Australia, New Zealand, Canada....

....leaving the Veteran Lines to those who are truly veterans. It appears to be rather difficult to find a resident of this area who is younger than 60, but surely, there must be quite a few of them!


P.N. Subramanian said...

Very interesting. This is the case with that community all over the Country. Incidentally there is one Alexander, the caretaker of the Armenian Church who is relatively young.

Shantaram said...

@PNS: You mean THE Armenian Church? If you know him, shall be grateful for a connect to Mr. Alexander.