Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chennai Book Fair -- What does it mean to Children of St.George's Anglo Indian Hr. Sec. School ?

Chennai Book Fair, marking its 34th edition in 2011, will be at the St.George's Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School premises. What does it mean to the pupils of this school ? I believe some of them are from economically weaker sections of the society. Can the numerous publishers and book-sellers set aside few copies of their appropriate literature (meant for Children) and donate it to these kids ? If there are no suitable books, maybe, BAPASI can identify other means to fulfill this 'CSR' -- Yes, its true, that exhibitors pay for the stalls, will have to meet so many other obligations during the fair and also meet certain (internal) monetary targets and keep themselves in business; nobody is denying that there are stomachs to be fed but any collective action, like, donating books to the school's library, will have a positive impact amongst the children.

Monday, December 27, 2010

நகரத்தார் பாரம்பரியம் -- சில துளிகள் #4

"தி லைப் ஒப் மகாத்மா காந்தி" டாகுமெண்டரி பிலிம்ஸ் லிமிடெட், மெட்ராஸ்; அல்ஹம்பரவில் (Alhambara) நள்ளிரவு காட்சி; மலாயாவில் (முதல் காட்சி) திரையிடப்பட்டு திரை அரங்கமே நிரம்பி வழிகின்றது." -- தி ஸ்ட்ரைட்ஸ் டைம்ஸ் 31 மே 1941 தேதியட்ட தனது நாளிதழில் இந்த செய்தியை வெளியட்டது.

தனது அயரா உழைப்பால், அனைத்து வகைகளிலும் அரும் பாடுபட்டு, பற்பல நாடுகளில் கண்டெடுத்த மகாத்மா பற்றிய பல்வேறு பசுருள்களையும், மகாத்மாவின் ஆசிரமத்தில் எடுத்த கோப்பு காட்சிகளையும் மூலாதாரமாக கொண்டு இப்படத்தை உருவாக்கியவர் திரு.அ.கருப்பன் செட்டியார் என்கின்ற எ.கே.செட்டியார் ஆவார். 2010-ஆம் ஆண்டு அவர் பிறந்த நூற்றாண்டாகும்.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

நகரத்தார் பாரம்பரியம் -- சில துளிகள் #3

இரண்டாம் உலக போர் நிதிக்கு, M.S.M குடும்பத்தை சேர்ந்த இரண்டு செட்டியார்கள், ரூபாய் 10,000/- கொடையாகக் கொடுத்ததை, சிங்கபூரிலிருந்து வெளிவந்த தி ஸ்ட்ரைட்ஸ் டைம்ஸ் (18 ஜூலை, 1940 தேதியிட்ட) நாளிதழில் செய்தி வெளியானது:

Image Courtesy: Image's copyright ownership is with National Library, Singapore.

"A DONATION OF 10,000 rupees, equivalent to $6,400 has been given by Mr.M.S.M.Meyyappa Chettiar (right), proprietor of the Chettiar banking firm of M.S.M.M. in Ipoh அண்ட் Sitiawan, to the F.M.S War Fund. Mr.Meyyappa Chettiar is at present in India but the gift was sanctioned by him at the request of his brother Mr.M.S.M.M.Alagappa Chettiar (left), who is the local head of the firm of M.S.M.M. A former chariman of the Karaikudi Municipality in the Ramnad District, South India, Mr.Meyyappa Chettiar, during his term of office, installed a water plant for his district at his own expenses. He instituted a free school for girls (the Sri Meenachi School) which has an enrolment of over 500 pupils, a maternity home for the poor and a dispensary".

Chennai Book Fair -- Internet Connectivity

I don't recall having seen such facility available in any of the previous book fairs at Chennai organized by BAPASI. How nice it would be to have this ? But why anyone will be interested ? Visitors will not have time ? And who will benefit from this ? Maybe, someone would want to surf the net / check mails / tweet live from the book fair / do blog postings or live streaming of some of the events, so on and so forth.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chennai Book Fair -- Leisurely Reading

From a recent conversation with an author (of Tamil origin) from Hong Kong, got to know about an interesting aspect in the book fair (annual ?) event in that former British-colony and now a self-governing administrative region of People's Republic of China : visitors can pick / choose books from the vendor stalls and take them to coffee-shops to have a leisurely reading, after they are done with it, its absolutely fine to leave the books at the coffee-shop. Wow, what a way to promote the event amongst people of all ages.

We (Chenna-ites) all know how cramped the book stalls are (causing lack / absence of standing space for visitors to browse the books) at the Chennai book fair. Many visitors simply do not enter some of the stalls after having to see so many people packed in to so little space.

Is anyone in BAPASI reading this note ?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chennai Book Fair -- it's official

BAPASI, that body vested with powers to conduct the annual book fair in Chennai, has made public (in their website) details of 34th Chennai Book Fair.

Dates => [ 4/Jan/2011 to 17/Jan/2011 ]

Rules & Regulations =>

Countdown : 21 days to go.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

நகரத்தார் பாரம்பரியம் -- சில துளிகள் #2

இரண்டு மலாய் மாணவர்கள் காரைக்குடியில் அமைந்துள்ள டாக்டர் அழகப்பா செட்டியார் கல்லூரியில் இரண்டு வருடம் தங்கி படிக்க உதவிதொகையும், இந்தியா சென்றுவர இரண்டாம் வகுப்பு பிராயண செலவும் ஏற்றுகொள்வதாக கல்லூரியின் அன்றைய செயலாளர் க.வீ. இராமநாதன் செட்டியார் அறிவித்தார். இந்த அறிவுப்பு 1952-இல் வெளியானது.

Friday, December 10, 2010

நகரத்தார் பாரம்பரியம் -- சில துளிகள் #1

மலாயாவிற்கு சென்ற முதல் நகரத்தார் பெண்மணி -- திருமதி.சொக்கலிங்கம் செட்டியார். செட்டிநாட்டு வழக்கில் இதற்கு 'உடன்செல்லுதல்' என்று பெயர். இது நடந்த வருடம் -- 1933.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nagalapuram Trek

On a sunny Sunday morning on Oct/10/2010, a group of 37 (a prime number that satisfies 4n+1 condition) trekkers driving in about 10 cars + one Royal Enfield Bullet descended on a tiny farming hamlet, Arai, causing raised eyebrows amongst the local villagers. People's clinic Trust in this village, bordering TamilNadu and Andhra Pradesh, was the starting point. Later during the trek, I realized there were quite a few regulars, like the, 9-year, Mahesh, from Ambattur, who had come with his father, Naresh Puri.

There seems to be enough write up here available already about the place, however, this trek was just a one day affair -- we covered three pools and in CTC's parlance this trek was marked 'N75 Easy'.

Tidbits from the trek that stands etched in my memory (fading but working still) :

1. What happened to that canine that followed us all the way up to pool I ? what happened to her after that ? wasn't she interested in pursuing in other pools ?

2. Those huge swamp of butterflies was definitely lovely to watch. Thought they were common crow but I don't think am correct. Does anyone know their exact common name / scientific name ?

3. I may again visit the place, not for trekking but to the Surutupalli (Lord Shiva in reclining posture) temple.

4. My new found eagerness to learn swimming.

5. Seeing the 9-year old Mahesh matching his dad's pace (infact, he outpaced many of the adults in that trek), showed no sign of tiring, enjoyed every second of his trek. At this point, I recall what I had read, about few months back, a quote of
Konrad Lorenz, Nobel prize winner in Physiology in 1973, that to teach humans to care for nature is to start when they are young.

6. Need stamina (I had enough for this easy trek), and a good pair of walking shoes (which am surely lacking) for such treks.

7. Are there any old records (dated 18th or early 19th century) about the geography of Nagalapuram ? It will be interesting to read writings from that period.

8. I believe there should be two (not just one) emergency kits -- one with the leader and the other with the sweeper.

9. How nice it would be to know / hear about the place, its flora and fauna during the trek ? This is sure to kindle souls of good 'nature' (pun intended) for further exploration.

10. I was told that the altitude of the mountain path covered in the trek could be between 500m - 600m. Does anyone know the exact details ?

Photos from this trek can be seen from:

Sabarinathan :


(Bullet) Praveen:

Sanjeev Kumar:





Friday, August 27, 2010

இன்று கண்ட வண்டி வாசகம் . . . அம்பத்தூரில்

சாலையை பார்த்தால் சமத்து
சேலையை பார்த்தால் விபத்து

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Talk on Fort St.George -- Dr.Satyabhama Badhreenath

Venue : Vennirul Art Gallery, C.P.Art Centre

Speaker : Dr.Satyabhama Badhreenath, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Chennai Circle

On : Saturday 21/Aug/2010

On the occasion of Madras Day 2010, this inaugural lecture on Fort St.George was accompanied with an exhibition of prints, aquatints, etchings and engravings from the collections of Mr.V.Narayan Swami and the Foundation.

This is the gist of her talk consolidated from my notes. As usual, if you notice factual errors and mistakes
please blame it on me.

In the quest to find good quality muslin cloth, English East India Company looked at several places on the East coast -- Machilipatinam was their first option but the Dutch traders had a thriving trade already established with the locals, so, their search began again. Through local connections, the Nayak at Poonamallee ceded a strip of land opposite the shore to Francis Day and Andrew Cogan. Interestingly this was their first acquired territory in India which served to be the 'very bounce of the empire'.

Fort House was one of the first buildings but it had to be reconstructed after being hit by a storm. Fortification wall and many other structures were added over a period of time. In the initial years, the company allowed people of various nationalities to reside inside the fort and conduct trading activities - this included, Portugese, Armenians.

Dutch movements triggered the English instincts to upgrade military preparedness inside the fort -- defensive architecture, unhindered supply of water, food and other essentials to manage eventualities, and ramparts, fortification walls were some of the focus areas.

Dr.Satyabhama Badreenath lecturing on Fort St.George

Some of the famous personalities associated with the fort -- Robert Clive, Arthur Wellesly amongst others. Next to Clive's House the company had given a place to Nawab of Arcot but he was then moved out (that's how Chepauk Palace came to be).

King's Barracks is one of the earliest barracks in India, was constructed in 1755 and is about 1,00,000 square meters. It is a very simple building with big columns and large verandas that facilitate cross-ventilation. First floor was used by the company authorities while the ground floor was used for storage needs.

Flag mast inside the fort is one of the tallest in India, it is made from the hull of a ship that wrecked near the coast of Madras. [ Note from Mr.K.R.A.Narasiah: This was possibly constructed during Yale's times, it was originally on the south eastern side and that wrecked ship could have been 'Royal Adventure'].

As part of the talk, she shared a set of slides with the audience (hall was almost full except for one or two empty chairs) and spoke about some of the restoration efforts carried out to repair the area underneath the flag mast, Banqueting Hall in Clive's House, Chaplain's House, and one of the earliest houses inside the fort where the work is in progress. For the ASI, this is really a challenging task with the available resources because these structures deserve continual attention and care.

Fort exchange building, now housing the Fort Museum, is an interesting piece of heritage structure. In the initial years (this is in the starting years of English East India Company) this building was used for auctions. In view of the business requirements, for better acoustics the
ceiling was designed with grid patterns that look like virtual prisms. Showing an image (scanned from a book) of a tea auction house where the auction would be at the top floor of the building while the bids were conducted from the ground floor. She said fort exchange interior is modeled on such auction houses. Very interesting indeed.

Thanks to Dr.Satyabhama Badhreenath for sharing her knowledge on the fort. It would have been really good if there had been more youngsters in the audience. As usual CPR staff were courteous, guests were served coffee, photo exhibition on old Madras was really well done.

Really wonderful morning session, Thanks to Madras Day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reminiscences from the Fort St.George Walk

It could have been better ... Attended four talks but missed many more that were scheduled as part of Madras Day 2010 -- couple of them by Pradeep, all the talks at RMRL. Except for one, couldn't take notes in the rest of the talks. So, if you notice errors / omissions / deficiencies / mistakes blame it on me but NOT the speakers.

Starting with the Fort where it all started ... A walk inside Fort St.George followed by a talk on the same subject. Walk was led by Vincent D'Souza and the talk was by Dr.Satyabama Badreenath because both were on the same day, in the morning of
Saturday Aug/21/2010. Well, I couldn't have asked for more, its all etched in my memory forever.

That's Vincent D'Souza (in the black tee and yellow cap)

On a pleasant Saturday morning, after much waiting at the gates (Courtesy: Chennai City Police) we stepped in to the Fort -- group was about 15 in size. Part of the group was an elderly citizen and few kids with their parents. Cornwallis cupola, Fort exchange building (now serving as museum), Fort house (one of the earliest houses in the campus), Army Parade ground, St.Mary's Church, Former Town Hall, Admiralty House, Madras Arsenal, Moat (could see trains in the Fort Railway station), King's Barracks were some of the landmarks covered in the walk; Vincent would tell us the significance about each of them while some of us listened, some took notes / snaps.

Some interesting notes:

Old street names have been retained and the names are put up in legible big letters -- some of the names are York street, Gloucester street, Middle street, Inner street, Charles & James street, Choultry street.

Tombstones inside St.Mary's Church are worth documenting. There is a tombstone for Sir Thomas Munro and so many more.

Former town hall is now Army recruiting zone and Hospital.

Next to the Fort House is the York street. Vincent prompted to bend and sit on our knees to see the arch that led straight to the blacktown of olden days.

Admiralty House built by an Armenian is named Clive's Corner -- as soon as you enter this compound, just raise your neck to see a round plaque which reads "Robert 1st Lord Clive lived in this building in the year 1753 truly great in arms and in council". A portion of this building is now occupied by the local ASI office.

King's Barracks, one of the largest in Asia, is now used for storing provisions (cartons after cartons after cartons) to meet the local army and navy requirements.

Behind the King's Barracks is the Queen's Barracks.

King's Barracks

Fort Museum is open from 8am to 5pm (these are the current timings) and is a must visit for anyone interested in heritage, history.

Thanks to Vincent's persistence, we made it to the Fort St.George and it was worth traveling from Nerkunram to Fort -- I joined the group at 7:10am delayed because of traffic diversion near Ripon Building, took detour via Basin Bridge.


Part of the group were two foreign citizens.

Opposite the Fort museum is placed guns captured by the British from various campaigns.

Many old buildings inside the fort are in dilapidated condition. One hopes the powers-that-be shows interest in their restoration and put them back to sensible use.

Name plates installed on the base holding the guns can be hardly read.

Below you will see the picture of a plaque
(erected in 1968) that commemorate's the 250th anniversary of the naming of Yale College.

Plaque commemorating the 250th anniversary of Yale College

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday Tidbits . . .

Title: "Colonial Archaeology in South Asia -- The Legacy of Sir Mortimer Wheeler"
Author: Himanshu Prabha Ray
OUP, 2008

Author has detailed, in the 9 chapters , the birth and growth leading to the establishment of Archaeology as a discipline of study in colonial and post-independent India set in the backdrop of Sir Mortimer Wheeler taking over as Director-General of ASI, his contributions to Indian Archaeology.

Now, let us move to the tidbits.

1. First scientific excavation was done in 1784 Thomas Jefferson, the third President of United States.

2. Earlier name of Rajpath-Janpath is Kingsway-Queensway (carfax).

3. A zoological museum was setup in Madras Christian College, Madras in 1838.

4. Rudyard Kipling's source of information about Buddhist sculpture came from his father Lockwood Kipling who has been a curator of Lahore Museum.

5. Efforts to develop a museum in Madras began in 1819 but did not materialize until 1834 until Madras Literary Society 'requested the government to setup a museum of economic geology'. In 1851, the museum was started in the College of Fort St.George, later shifted to the present site (Egmore) in 1854.

6. First museum collection initiated by the Asiatic Society in 1796.

7. Wheeler, while talking about Indians who had worked with him in various excavations, has special mention for A.Aiyappan, the Superintendent of Madras Museum. 'as a colleague'. Aiyappan, an ethnologist and a student of Malinowski, had accompanied Wheeler to the finds of Arikamedu.

8. The chapter on conservation policy has some interesting details about the policies followed, rifts between CPWD and ASI over who should undertake conservation of the Taj Mahal, memos exchanged between the concerned departmental officers about the legality / illegality of wearing shoes or overshoes by visitors to Taj Mahal, twisting of history by 'guides' and the excessive rates they charged the visiting American officers from USA Air Depot.

9. Snippet of correspondence between ASI Superintendent and the Collector of Chingelput over the protection and conservation of Megaliths in chapter 6 is quite disturbing to read. This extract is part of exchange dated 15 March 1945 and sites the indifferent attitude of governing authorities in allowing quarrying to be done in localities where 'the monuments of the character specified here are particularly found'. Examples of these localities are, Nanmangalam, Guduvancheri.

10. Appendix has two tables A6.1 and A6.2. Former lists 05 sites in the Sriperumbudur taluk for the protection of Megalithic cists and cairns under section 3 of AMP Act of 1904 dated 13 September 1946 and the latter 13 sites in Ponneri and Tiruvallur taluks for the protection of Megalithic cists and cairns with bounding stone circles under section 3 of AMP Act of 1904 dated23 January 1947. All these sites were part of Chingelput district.

If this was the situation 60 years ago, nobody knows what happened to all the finds / excavations in these sites ? How they could have survived the quarrying ?

Friday, February 26, 2010

St.Thomas Mount Police Station Demolished

Another piece of heritage structure comes under the wreckers hammers . . .|6QYp3kQ=&SEO=


Philo Irudayanath, C.V.Seshadri

Goal for the next three months . . .

Create wikipedia entries, with detailed content, on Philo Irudayanath, C.V.Seshadri

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Why C.W.Thamotharapilai changed his name ?

Madras Miscellany column of The Hindu dated 01/Feb/2010 begins with a note about Madras University's plans to start degree classes in the camps for the internally displaced people in Sri Lank's north. Further, in the same article, brief sketch of the first two graduates of University of Madras from Jaffna is provided. Detailing about the two graduates, Mr.S.Muthiah outlined as to why C.W.Thamotharapillai [CWT] changed his name, "so that he would have no problems in accessing the original palm-leaf manuscripts in the various maths".

It's wondering to note what kind of problems CWT could have faced had he not changed his name ? This led me to search for answers which some of you might be already aware of but will share with you as is (without any comments or observations):

1. This reference (partial text extract is given below) is from a Google mailing list :

"Why did C. W. Thamotharam give a Hindu name in Madras?

Prof. R. Hoole gives a reason

"I recall how my ancestor Charles Winslow Kingsbury with the “home name” Thamotharam, despite his accomplishments as one of Madras University’s first 2 graduates in 1857 (and of getting the higher mark of the two [8]) renamed himself Chirupitty Wairawanathar Thamotharampillai when he went to Madras Presidency.

This ensured that

a) he had access to the Sangam-era Ola manuscripts in the mutts that he is credited with restoring,

b) he kept his original initials and

c) he removed obstacles to his becoming Rao Bahadur and, as chief justice, Regent in Puthukkottai. To maintain this farce he only had to whisper to his Jaffna friends on arrival in Madras not to let on that he was a Christian in Jaffna. (See S.R. H. Hoole, 1997; ibid.).

Such was the disadvantage of a Christian in India in learned circles."

R. Hoole's book on CWT:

2. I believe the extracted text is part of another article written by Ranjan Hoole, one of C.W.Thamotharapillai's kinsmen. His article is very elaborate and the main subject of his article is quite different. Here is the URL to the seven page article,

Extracted text reproduced in the first point is taken from Ranjan Hoole's article (URL given above) -- last para in the first page of this article.