Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXVIII No. 12, October 1-15, 2018

Needed more curators of walks

- Vincent D'Souza

My weekends in August are super busy. The mornings are for Madras Day walks.

One evening, I went on my sixth – guiding a group of architecture students around Fort St. George.

Fellow-traveller Hemchandra Rao, a historian and philatelist did not shy away when I suggested two tours – one of the Old Bridges of the city and one on his favourite subject of study, Buckingham Canal.

The first Canal tour had a big response and so we repeated it. That Sunday was pleasant and we decided to retire to Saravana Bhavan on Mount Road for a slow breakfast after the tour.

Rao is a busy bee and we are already working out the details of the Buckingham Canal tour of the Palaverkkadu region (Pulicat) – which allows you to appreciate the linkages between this Canal and rivers that flow eastwards, the unique eco-system of the Pulicat lake and the Canal’s life on the boundary of the neighbouring state.

The Madras Day celebration has attracted more people with domain knowledge in subjects of their interest to curate and lead Walks.

But I would like to see more people curate Walks.

This is a city of many parts and people and histories. And we must present every shade and colour to people who wish to learn or are just curious.

I have a long list of ideas.

The railway houses in Perambur, the churches of Broadway and of Vepery, the cantonment zone of St. Thomas Mount, the Basin Bridge Creek, the Christian legacy of Little Mount, the Anglo-Indian heritage of Pallavaram, the old town of Muthialpet and the food joints of Mannady.

This list gives you an idea of the rainbow themes that Walks can cover.

And this pursuit must not be left to a few.

Schools and college teachers, foodies and roadies, scholars and research students, even senior residents …all of them are capable of leading Walks in our City. They will bring diversity to this pursuit. And help people enlarge their knowledge of this city.

During one Madras Day event, I bumped into this man who had lived in China Bazaar in the 1960s and 70s. A few prompts and he rewound to his days in that busy neighbourhood. And to the streets which offered smuggled goods – soaps and shampoos, handbags and dark glasses, scents and lipsticks, sarees and terylene shirts. This was the era when we hardly had any of these fancy lifestyle products. And we desired them when we could afford them.

I have convinced this person to help curate a Walk of the ‘smuggled goods sale’ streets. To understand a life of the near past. That era may not be relevant now. But we should be aware of it.

And this is what Walks can do.

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