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

Vol. XXIX No. 22, March 1-15, 2020

Pavithra’s Perspective

by Pavithra Srinivasan

The House where Netaji stayed

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One of the endearing side-effects of my re-discovery of Chennai’s heritage was the many cabbies I befriended, who overrode their skepticism of my history trails to actively become interested in my quests to find this or that unfamiliar site. What usually started out as outraged curiosity (“I have been a driver for x years; how can there be a place I do not know?”) often transformed into genuine astonishment (“I never knew this place existed!”) and later, intrigued conversation. Sometimes, it even led to them taking over the quest.

Cab Driver: Madam, if you trust me, I will take you to a history place.

Me (tantalized, but also suspicious): Which place is this? Which area?

Cab Driver: Surprise, Madam.

I’d already been driving with him for five hours and so trusted him – but this was still unknown territory. I gave him the benefit of doubt, however, and he proved himself by driving straight to Pycrofts Road in Thiruvallikkeni, stopping in front of an imposing structure, and pointing with a flourish: “Nethaji stayed in this house only.”

Eventually, I would discover that Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose, invited by Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar, did indeed stay in this very house named “Gandhi Peak” on September 3, 4 and 5 in 1939; and that he repeated his stay on January 10 and 11 in 1940. I also learnt that the building had been marked for demolition and that if I needed to record its beautiful symmetry the way I intended, I’d have to do it quickly. Which I did, to great satisfaction.

Details about the miniature: Black and White; Pen and Ink.
Dimensions: Approximately: 5.5” X 2.5”

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