VISAGES OF THE PAST
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.