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Blast from the past: Madras, nalla Madras
This post was essentially prompted by the enormous amount of digging happening in Madras (Chennai is such a ridiculous name!) to build the flyovers during the late 1990s.
My earliest memories of Madras are those of peeping out of our home in Chetpet in the late 70s and naming each car going by. We were in a joint family then and needless to say, it was good fun. I dont remember much about it now but every now and then my parents recollect some funny thing which happened during those days and really speaking, that is the only way I know about all that transpired 20 years ago or so.
Our home overlooked a playground and there was a fairly big road going nearby too, so that meant I could while away my time watching the cars go by. I am told that I was able to give the names of at least 5 cars which went on the road in those days (which would presumably have been the Ambassador, Fiat, Gazelle, Herald and the Plymouth). I am pretty sure it was just about the only thing I did in those days apart from bawling and fighting with my cousin of the same age.
How times have changed. My cousin, when he was the ripe old age of 3, managed to utter the names of a dozen cars on the road. Even better, he could actually spot the difference between a Maruti 1000 and an Esteem, something I never quite have figured out to date. With the sudden influx of Koreans into the car market, his autobulary (which is presumably what you could call a vocabulary consisting only of automobile names) increased by a factor of 2 ! But now where is the space on the roads to drive all those cars ? The Mayor, in his grandiose plan to convert Madras into a huge network of interconnected overhead flyovers, has ordered the digging up of just about every road in the city. It has become impossible to go on the roads without the fear of being bathed by a bucketful of cement mixture falling upon you from a height of 30-40 feet. Madras, to put it shortly, looks like a city felled during WW-II. Then again, what do you expect from a Mayor who has that kind of name ?
Someone who'd never seen Madras in his life would certainly not be at fault if he thought Pakistan's new military government had nuked us. All this is in the name of development. Therein lies the problem really, we never think of "planned development" in the truest sense of the word. If they were going to build flyovers and dig up every main road in town, why on earth didnt they get down to doing the job and timing it so that a major chunk of the scheduled work gets over by Sept-Oct which is when the rains start. As it is, Madras roads are bad in the monsoon. Add to it roads which are barely 3 metres wide with water and mud on either side and you are left with no space for the poor autorickshaws to weave their way through the traffic. In short, it is a terrible experience and speaks a lot of the visionaries that our leaders claim to be.
Well, we always knew they were never what they claimed but surely it is difficult to believe that such idiots exist. Give back my Madras to me.
All the blasts: Kargil & WC 1999, Lata v Asha, Tam-Brahm wedding, Madras, Unglamourous Orissa, Idols and Bangalore.
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