Madras Musings

Meterpodu : A Work in Progress

Meterpodu : A Work in Progress

Once upon a time, auto rickshaws in Madras had functioning meters, so the legend goes.Asking the auto drivers to turn on that boxy contraption today is like committing a small crime. The unrevised, state-fixed fare is blatantly unfair to these men in khaki. But pay the arbitrary sum they demand and, chances are, it won’t fair to you in the long run. What gives? A tech-savvy NRI, recently returned to his hometown, wanted to do something about this. Crowd sourcing, a form of distributed problem […]



New Use for an Old House

New Use for an Old House

If the preservation of a heritage building delights us, then we rejoice doubly when an old building is put to new use. Take the case of this 49 year old, two-storied bungalow in Nungambakkam that now houses Rasvihar, a jewelry shop, and Sarangi, the Kanjivaram sari store. This is such a perfect setting for the traditional merchandise: you have to wonder why no one thought of this idea before. The very space, with the mango tree in the well-tended garden, must make for a very […]



Not Arriving Shortly– Arrived

Not Arriving Shortly– Arrived

The poem was written on a sort of impulse. It was triggered by a comment I heard from a friend of mine – quite a culture-vulture himself – about another writer based in Bombay. My friend said that this writer was “so Bombay”, meaning so typically a Bombayite or a Mumbaikar. It got me thinking about how he or others might see me and so this poem got written. At the core of it, of course, lies my own love for the older version of […]



Make Mine a Madras

Recently, it occurred to me–while I was at a bar, of course – that my hometown has one thing in common with New York’s oldest and most famous borough, Manhattan: both have cocktails named after them. But while the Manhattan, a classic, was invented in the Big Apple, the Madras certainly did not originate in its namesake city on the Coromandel Coast. Read the rest of the article here. pdf.



Definitely Not Shakespeare & Co.

Definitely Not Shakespeare & Co.

    I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges, “Poema de los Dones”             Supermodel Padmalakshmi is in Chennai. Southern India’s oldest newspaper, which knew its readership, ran a report saying that the celebrity was visiting her grandmother. I too am visiting my hometown, but plan to stay clear of relatives. Most things I liked here are already gone like the cannon ball tree in the courtyard of a small temple […]



What is the funda?

The sylvan campus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras is a good degree or two cooler than the rest of the city. Here, deer prance alongside runners in the tracks, rhesus monkeys hang around the residential hostels. At dusk, red-beaked parrots flock over tree-canopies. And the humans – particularly the undergraduates who pass a grueling exam to enter this premier institute – speak to each other in a tongue outsiders cannot understand. Campus slang is, of course, not supposed to be intelligible to outsiders. But […]



Photowalks for the city

Chennai-based copy writer Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan, or CCG, as he is known in the blogosphere, has pioneered photowalks in the city – walking expeditions through interesting parts of the city with a camera in hand. “Because I’m this guy who is obsessed with the city’s history, my routes are always through old Madras,” says this blogger. Read the entire article. pdf