Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVIII No. 14, November 1-15, 2018
It is not often that we at Madras Musings have occasion to celebrate when it comes to heritage. Most of our stories are gloom and doom, chiefly documenting official apathy and wilful neglect that results in various grandiose edifices biting the dust. But in this festive season, we do have a reason to rejoice. We, a few days ago, saw the low profile restoration of the Second World War shelter that had for long remained neglected by the seashore at Kasimedu. This marked the culmination of some concerted action by several agencies and we are glad to report that Madras Musings too played a role in it.
The concrete air-raid shelter, also known as the pillbox owing to its design, was one of several put up all along the seacoast by the administration of Sir Arthur Hope, during the first three years of the WWII. Weighing several hundred tonnes, it was probably cast in-situ and apart from its massive walls, it also has evidences of metal plating on the inside. Narrow windows provide a lookout and also enable the positioning of anti-aircraft guns. Records on these shelters are non-existent today and, indeed, there is no proof of ownership either. The last named was a bane and a boon, when it came to the recent restoration of this particular shelter, the last survivor of its kind.
A healthy practice is in place over the last three years or so to measure the efficacy of public services in terms of outcomes. The latest one in the series is the Ease of Living Index at the initiative of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, of the Central Government. The survey, commenced in January 2018, is a bit too early to test the status of Ease of Living when governments are still grappling with this problem of many ramifications.
The survey covers 111 cities in the country, the evaluation based on four pillars, as they are called, namely, institutional, social, economic and physical facilities. Under this main classification there are 15 parameters and 78 indicators. Based on data received for these main and sub-main parameters scores are assigned and aggregated to rank cities for performance.
The Printer’s Devil was at work on the last issue of Madras Musings (October 16th) and rather unfortunately forgot to deliver on his commitment to continue on page 6 what he had promised on page 5: to continue the last portion of the Jagdish shop story. We regret the carelessness and make good the omission, starting from what might be considered the beginning of a second part of the story.
Mylapore was not a geo-graphical spot. It was a social phenomenon. It was India’s legal brain and centre of culture comprising music, dance, temples, colourful festivals, early morning marghazhi bhajans and a school of considerable repute that produced India’s senior civil servants. Mylapore also provided constitutional architects, Supreme Court judges, great jurists, a silver-tongued orator reputed to have known all the words in the Oxford Dictionary, freedom fighters, musicologists, composers, poets. Mastery of Law was the speciality. If you were born in Mylapore you could not have helped being an eminent lawyer. Every girl of marriageable age aspired to marry into a Mylapore lawyer’s family. The heroine, Miss Malini, in a movie of that title, sang the lyrics composed by Kothamangalam Subbu, also a Mylaporean: Mylapore Vakkeelaatthu Maattuponnaavaen!
It gave its name to an entire suburban district of our city – Chromepet. But of the factory or the several acres it occupied at one time, there is not a trace. In its time, it was a well-known employer of the city and its products found a ready market in India and abroad.
Like the legendary Phoenix, Chennai’s iconic hotel, now called the Taj Connemara, has gone through as many transformations as the City itself.