VIS­AGES OF THE PAST

India Today - - MY CITY - My City by Shy­laja Chetlur

Igrew up with sto­ries of Pallavaram be­ing the yard where the Pallavas kept their ele­phants; and of My­la­pore, Lit­tle Mount and St.Thomas Mount, which were revered with Saint Thomas’s trav­els. The cre­ativ­ity that was dis­played in the dra­mas and mu­si­cal per­for­mances hosted by the var­i­ous sab­has in the city, gave me a vir­tual play­ground to graph­i­cally match his­tory, mythol­ogy and fu­tur­is­tic tales in vivid day dream­ing. I re­mem­ber climb­ing trees in the mango groves of Chromepet and the Pachamalai, be­yond the Lak­sh­mipu­ram Lake, to read my nov­els. These mem­o­ries al­ways tre­ans­port me and my friends to sweet nos­tal­gia. We cy­cled on the muddy tracks to in­spect the scrubs on ei­ther side and in­dulged in hands-on fish­ing dur­ing the mild mon­soon floods. Folk art per­for­mances put us on a trance dur­ing the many small tem­ple fes­ti­vals, as did the un­for­get­table tamashas of film re­leases and de­bates. These mo­ments still char­ter my choices in my pro­fes­sional life.

The Moral Sci­ence classes at St. Do­minics’ Con­vent chis­eled my thoughts with so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity. Our prayer meet­ings had Mu­ru­gan hymns too. Such was the leve of sec­u­lar­ism in our ed­u­ca­tion.

I re­mem­ber march­ing in the OTA grounds to the rhythms of the Bri­tish March Past mu­sic dur­ing our an­nual sports day in pinafores and two neatly made plaits. We would progress to train as NCC cadets in the mas­sive Khushal­das Gar­dens, that looked mys­te­ri­ous with its tow­er­ing pil­lars. We would soak in the re­flec­tive free­dom of the Madras Chris­tian Col­lege cam­pus that helped us evolve as in­di­vid­u­als.

Land­marks like Kalak­shetra and IIT opened up newer vis­tas for me and fos­tered the growth and knowl­edge in me. The stylish in­te­ri­ors of the Chola Sher­a­ton and the Tri­dent played cu­pid to my ro­mance, which eas­ily cul­mi­nated in the bliss­ful, life­long part­ner­ship of mar­riage; to­day, ro­man­tic rides along the ECR are just as mag­i­cal.

Chen­nai’s cos­mopoli­tan na­ture helps us un­der­stand our­selves and our sur­round­ings and break the bar­ri­ers that may stand in our way. The Duchess Club at Sav­era continues to give me the joy of so­cial­is­ing with the North, South, East and West of the In­dian cul­ture with­out even trav­el­ling to these places. Chen­nai is mys­te­ri­ous and fer­tile in many ways. She is an anchorage, a pivot point and a launch­ing pad to nur­ture and fur­ther am­bi­tions. We may date its her­itage back to about 350 years, but to me it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory of over 1400 years, which al­lur­ingly con­nects me to her.

The au­thor is an art and cul­ture en­thu­si­ast and the pro­moter of Art & Soul Gallery.

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