Monday, January 4, 2016

Train service

The Chennai Metro was inaugurated in June 2015; in the first few months, it was treated more as a fun ride rather than a regular mode of commute. Just when things were settling down came the heavy rains of December; the Chennai Metro came into its own, as the quickest way for people to get to the inter-city bus terminus at Koyambedu. Running high above the flood waters, the Metro's trains were indeed a lifeline for the many who went back to their hometowns, and other cities, to get away from the rain waters.

There were problems - the trains are meant to carry a little over 1200 passengers at one go - and there were about four times that many at the stations during the peak rains. The Chennai Metro did its best to dynamically alter the schedules to accommodate as many as they could. Apart from that, the spike in traffic helped the Chennai Metro figure out how their systems could take the stress.

This picture is from way before the waters, at a time when the Metro was new enough for everyone to be posing in front of its train-sets. At least the selfie-taking couple is wise enough to stay on the right side of the yellow line, unlike the hero who is trying to channel some kind of superhero!

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Tucked away behind a larger building on Mount Road is this squat little building which really seems to have no reason to continue to remain in the business it is in. Anna Theatre has remained much the same since the time it started screening movies, which was, in my best guess, sometime in the 1960s. By that time, both Shanti and the Devi complex were functioning, and there was no reason why a single-screen theatre so close to them would be any threat; especially when it had no signage on the main road itself and seemed to be a place where you would go to watch re-runs after a few years.

But no. Anna Theatre seems to have not only held its own but actually flourished in the years since it began. No threat to the biggies next door, but it has been doing quite well. Possibly, it initially was the place you went to if you could not get tickets for the blockbusters running at Devi or Shanti; over time, it has become one of the screens for releasing new movies as well.

Remaining largely unchanged, with some technology upgrades, Anna Theatre today screens three shows. All of them are the latest releases. And all of them with big name stars. Not bad at all for a theatre that should have gone down anytime in the last couple of decades. But wait - there is a unique feature that this theatre has, supposedly. I haven't been to it and I haven't met anyone with firsthand knowledge of this, but the screen here is in the basement - and that's probably a bigger attraction than the movie itself!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Ghostly view

A few days ago, I had a chance to go to one of the buildings at MRC Nagar, right on the beach. The view of the Bay of Bengal was so amazing that not much conversation happened. Couldn't get away without taking a few pictures.

This one shows the mouth of the Adyar as it meets the Bay of Bengal. If you look closely, you can see the 'broken bridge', jutting out from the Besant Nagar shore of the estuary, hopping a bit into the water and then giving up the attempt to get to the MRC Nagar / Foreshore estate side. 

You may remember having seen this broken bridge on this blog earlier. In the time since that post, I have not been able to get any more information on what this bridge was all about. But since then, the legend about the broken bridge being one of the most haunted spots of Chennai has gained ground; if only it were true, this window will have a ring-side view of the hauntings!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Photo of the year

For a couple of generations to come, 2015 in Chennai will be remembered as the year of the floods. In November 2015, rainfall in Chennai was a shade under 105 cm (42 inches); it narrowly failed to beat the record of 109 cm set in November 1918. But it was enough to set up a wet December; the first two days of the month brought 34.5 cm of rain. To find a similar deluge, you'd have to go back to 1901. On those two days, the city was brought to its knees, officially being declared a disaster zone on the evening of December 2. 

This picture is from 3rd December, after the flood waters had been receding from this street through the day. A broken crate stuck in the middle of the road warns people of an open manhole at that spot. This was one of the less-affected areas of the city. In many of Chennai's suburbs, the waters remain, not finding a way to go out.

So, the city looks forward to 2016 being a 'normal' year. Sunshine for 350 days, and sixteen days of rain being spread out from October to December, helping us forget the wet end to 2015. So, a very happy New Year to everyone - may 2016 give of its best to all of us, getting us closer to our dreams!