Carewalk – 2013
As regular readers of my blog know, I often walk the streets of Chennai as part of a photo walk group – which has these regular walks scheduled once a month- to document the changes of our rapidly evolving city and to preserve the memories of what was once there and will be no more. This month’s walk was special as it coincided with the celebration of Madras Day and hence the walk was associated with the local British council for a charitable purpose – cancer relief and called as Carewalk-2013.
The walk was flagged off from the premises of the British Council Library at Mount Road (Anna Salai) which is right behind the Madras District Library – the Devaneya Paavanar Library- the place where a thousand civil servants were made in those pre-coaching center days for a lot of civil service aspirants used the library as a study point for preparing the civil service exams.
The library’s second floor had a fantastic collection of old medical books- which was my attraction point- and I had spent many pleasant hours in the past- going through the old textbooks and reading up the changes in medical treatment with every new edition. Many times I was reminded by my friends that it was totally pointless towards scoring good marks in our exams- to learn about historical medical treatments now out of fashion- but I have always been fascinated by history and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a lazy summer afternoon- especially as the reading section of the library was fully air-conditioned- a luxury in our hot summers. And if I got bored of reading medical stuff, then there was always the British Council Library right next door with a fantastic collection of general books- and an especially good travelogue section- my favorite kind of lazy read. Anyway, that’s more than enough about books and libraries; let’s get back to the walk.
As I said the walk was flagged off by the British Deputy Commisioner from the lawn of the library. We had a slightly latish start at around 8:30AM compared to our usual 6:30AM start but on the plus side we had a police escort throughout the walk which meant that not once was our organizer Ramasamy N. (of Chennai Daily Photos fame) had to stop and explain to random cops why we were walking around with cameras so early in the morning. As I have mentioned in my previous posts – the early morning patrol cops are the “Alert Arumugam” types- and they have never failed to stop the photo walk group at least a couple of times on every single walk to enquire and check our ID’s- as if Al Queda terrorists openly walk about in groups photographing street signs and shop name boards. Don’t they now do it direct on Google street view? Anyway Ram Anna as he is fondly called by the photo walkers has the unenviable task of dealing with the zealous cops every time. And so it was a pleasant surprise to see that for this walk the British High Commissioner had arranged a police escort for us on the entire route- making Rams’ work easy and allowing him to concentrate on the thing he loves- capturing images.
The walk started off from Mount Road and passing by the now defunct Anand Theatre- a once prominent landmark for the city’s film buffs- and skirting around the dug up roads for the upcoming Metro rail project, we turned into Greams Road. As one of the history buffs in the group- Chandra Choodan or CC as he is called explained- the road started off being called Greame’s Road in honor of an erstwhile prominent resident Mr.Greame, of Irish origin. With time the “e” was lost and an “s” was added to the name by the local corporation officers- and hence Greams Road. But this contraction of the late Mr. Greame’s name doesn’t seem to be the end of the story – as I saw quite a few shop name boards with creative spelling of the original street name – Indian ingenuity at its best.
After passing the mid way point of the walk at the designated – TAFE workshop- a place where almost all Chennai car owners would have service their cars at one time or another, we turned back into the opposite side to pass the MRF showroom with its distinctive “Man bearing Tire” display in imitation of the mighty Atlas of Greek Myths. From there we crossed over to the other side of Mount Road into Peter’s Road and the Thousand Lights Mosque- which gives its name to the Thousand Lights Area behind it. As we were there on a Sunday and a non-prayer time we could enter the mosque and enjoy its beauties without inhibitions- a first time for me and a few others too. After photographing the minarets and domes of the Thousand Lights mosque – the walk was officially ended and we broke up to go home for breakfast and a long lazy Sunday.
P.S. the second walk for this madras month celebrations is scheduled for next Sunday and would cover the Nandambakkam area starting from MIOT hospital. Do join us if you are free that today.