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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Enga ooru Madrassu ~ athukku ivanga thaane addressu ! - good people of Chennai

Whether one likes it or not – Movies do create strong impressions ! often they do portray places in a different perspective .. .. .. Madurai is often seen one with sickles [arrivals] and angry villagers; North Madras [Vada Chennai] shown as one with dadas clashing all the time.  The movie ‘Madras’ starring Karthi, directed by the now in news Pa Ranjith painted walls red – as the storyline revolved around the wall in Kasimedu area – groups fighting throughout to gain control over painting picture of its leader leading to many deaths !
visitors at Marina on Kanum Pongal day

Chennai aka Madras, often referred as Cultural capital has many relishing features.  A thing of beauty is a joy for ever ~ and one such is ‘Marina beach’ known for its  pristine beautiful sandy shores – running  from Fort St George to Besant Nagar. This beach has a long history,  conceived in 1884 and christened by Mount stuart Elphinstone Grant-Duff, the then governor of Madras – the beautiful beach  is famed for the  ambience and rich eco system though it  stands a lot polluted now.   On the road side, many stone statues, some of them installed during the Tamil World Conference adorn the area.

Early morning the famous Marina beach offers intriguing things.  There are young, old, fast, slow, and varied people indulging in chit-chatting, eating and drinking the various health drinks ! that are sold on pavements.  You can see people walking, walking fasting, jogging, sprinting, skipping, doing physical exercises, yoga, laughing out loud – more – all law unto themselves – thinking and spreading that these are the passport to good health. You can hear the sea, the sound of waves  and nearer – the  waves jumping and touching the shore and then submitting themselves to the shore but trying to comeback to conquer again ! would be very interesting sight  – One  can see monstrous  ships anchored in the middle of sea, some fishing boats and Sun coming out as a red ball from the Sea – all great sights to behold.  To those given to enjoying Nature, the morning at Marina  provides innumerable things like morning birds, dogs – stray, and owned – local and foreign breeds of various sizes; posh cars; bi-cycles; vast expanse of sand and more…..

Long back the great Sujatha wrote a short novel titled ‘Marina’ – the plot was woven around misdeeds of a wastrel son of a rich father – it described the shady night time of beach haunted by spoilt rich who get into unadulating crime…… the climax would reveal not who the killer was but there was no murder at all -  yet the spoilt-broth in a poetic justice would get arrested for some other crime !

In the evenings, Marina is different !  Over the years, lot has changed – the ‘radio beach’ no longer exists – behind the Kannagi statue stood ‘Seerani Arangam’- the Thilagar Thidal place on which so many meetings were held.  Opposite to Presidency College, there was a promenade – a  radio kept on a pedestal, people would gather around to hear ‘maanila seithigal’ – the news in Tamil. There used to be many shops selling sea-shells, conches, and more – and of course lot of food ~from cut mangoes, sugarcane juice, murukku, thenga-manga-pattani-sundal and bajji shops [a particular shop run by an old lady – mami bajji shop  was a great hit] -  free water booth maintained by Rajasthani Youth Association, the Mail van that used to collect letters at Marina in the evenings till 06.30 pm, Public library ……………..and….. the aquarium ~not a big one, rather small one – having some 30 odd water tanks and not many exotic fish – have seen star fish, star tortoise and seahorses among other things that went missing !!!
Perhaps what has not changed is ‘the people; the vendors and their good-heartedness’.  Being a long beach, there have been isolated instances of crime and  trouble too .. .. yet, people do exhibit helping tendency and good-heartedness.  Now read this report in Times of India, Chennai edition of yesterday. 

Representation pic of a seller at Marina beach

A woman tea vendor on Sunday handed over to police a bag containing 45 sovereigns of gold jewellery worth around `9.5 lakh, two cellphones and `10,000 she had found near her shop on the Marina. The gold and cash were later handed over to the family of Tondiarpet resident Anwar Khan. Amudha, the 28-year-old Chepauk resident who found the bag, won fullsome praise from east zone joint commissioner of police Manoharan and deputy commissioner V Balakrishnan.

“The sense of satisfaction and appreciation I received from the police after handing over the valuables to the owner are worth more than anything else,“ Amudha said later. She said she knew what people losing such large amounts of gold jewellery underwent. “I hail from a porr family and I can understand their suffering,“ she said.

Police said Anwar Khan had come to the Marina along with a group of relatives who had arrived in the city from Rameswaram. After taking in the sights at a lot of places in the city, Khan and the others decided to go to the famous sands in the evening. After spending a lot of time enjoying the sights and sounds on the beach, the family decided to go home and got into a car. As he was about to start the car, Anwar Khan realised that the bag containing the jewellery the family was carrying was missing. A sense of panic set in and all of them fanned out on the sands, searching for it in the darkness. Finally, accepting the fact that someone may have taken the bag, the family lodged a complaint with the Anna Square police.

As they were waiting at the station, Amudha arrived with the bag. She was on her way home from the beach after locking her tiny shop when she found the bag.

The song in the film ‘enga ooru Madrasu, naanga thane addressu’ was a hit – more impressive was its portrayal in a Malayalam FM channel during Chennai floods – they used the song depicting Chennai as the resilient place, people standing tall to help those in distress – a very positive jibe.  You may like to hear it once, if not earlier heard. Here is the youtube link. :    

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th July 2016.

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