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Vol. XXVIII No. 16, December 1-15, 2018

Memories of Round Tana

- Bharati Paul

Recently, my husband and I were driving home from Egmore. The route that we took was the beach road via ‘Round Tana’. We hardly go to that side of town, as Adyar, where we live is self-sufficient with all kinds of stores, restaurants and services.

I felt a mounting excitement looking this side and that. So many memories came back to mind. The big Bata, the New Elphinstone Theatre, Chellarams have already been mentioned in your previous issues. I would like to mention the ice cream parlour, attached to the Elphinstone theatre. They served Peach Melba in a tall transparent glass with custard, jelly, ice cream, fruits, and other colourful and tasty stuff. It was considered a delicacy and attracted people of all ages to the place.

Udupi Hotel located at the curve of Round Tana (now I saw the name DOHA instead), was also a big attraction in the mid1940s. My father, Dr. G.D. Boaz, took us to this place as a special treat. The seats here were like the berths in trains. My brothers Prabha, Prem and I used to be very excited about having something to eat in that ‘hotel’. What I enjoyed most was basundi – a kind of milk sweet.

The place where the statue of Annadurai stands, was the parking area then. Now, while driving from the statue to the beach, I remembered Annapoorna, run by the Guild of Service. They sold a variety of sweets and snacks all at a nominal cost. Even people from Adyar used to go and buy stuff from there, as it was of good quality and reasonably priced. In the 1970s this outlet flourished under the leadership of Mrs. Clubwala Jadhav. Who can forget this dynamic lady, who did so much service-oriented work in Madras.

Then as we drove towards the beach, on the right side, I missed Paragon theatre, now completely gone. But the memory of the movies I saw there, remain fresh in my mind especially Gnanasoundari, starring. T.R. Mahalingam and M.V. Rajamma. With this movie, Jikki, a young child then, made her debut singing for the heroine. She sang one stanza – Arul thaarum Deva madhavey. P.A. Perianayagi, already a big playback singer, sang the rest of the song.

The picture Gnanasoundari ran house full at each show. We went for an evening show and as no tickets were available, we bought tickets for the night show and saw the movie. My Father never approved of these movies but never stopped us from going!

My mother and a few of my cousins had to return home, all the way to Adyar, in two rickshaws at midnight. So safe and no problem. But, those days only hand-pulled rickshaws. No cell phone to inform home. I still remember my father giving us a BIG lecture the next day, telling us never to do this again. But, this must have been in late 1948 or 49.

That was Madras, Not Chennai.

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