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Vol. XXXII No. 14, November 1-15, 2022

Our Readers Write

An interesting reading

The most recent issue of MM offered many interesting stories to me. I felt compelled to share some of my thoughts reading them.

It is kind of Shobha to remind us of O.T. Ravindran, a great plant lover of Madras. Having known him personally during my work days at Loyola College, I have experienced every word uttered by her in this piece. He was a regular visitor to Loyola and spend time with me and my senior colleague S. Wilson. Once Wilson got to know him closely, our conversations used to be in Malayalam rather than Tamil. Mr Wilson spoke and wrote Malayalam because he hailed from Kanyakumari District of the erstwhile Travancore Princely State. OT (yes, ‘OT’ to me as well), was a great friend and a lovely person to get along with. OT had post-graduated in philosophy from Madras Christian College (Tambaram) during his study days, before he joined the British High Commission in Madras. Probably the training in philosophy enabled him to see the beauty of plants (orchids especially) and ‘feel’, rather ‘see’ the vibrancy of colours those orchids (in earlier days) and other plants including tree barks! I think he did only water colours and never any oil colours. He used to invite me to his flat in Nandanam to see some of his then latest works, before they went on display anywhere. Shobha has elaborately spoken about this great son of Madras; I thought I will add some aspects that crossed my mind as I read her narrative. A few years ago, when Muthiah was still active with MM, I inquired about OT, since I had lost touch with him once I moved to New South Wales. That was when Muthiah broke the news to me that OT was no more. I was highly depressed hearing that. 

I ‘am’ a resident of Shenoy Nagar. Srinivas Chari’s story brings to light the sad demise of the Thiru. Vi. Ka Poonga (hereafter, park). Incidentally ‘Thiru’ here needs to be punctuated with a full stop, since it is a shortened form of his birth place ‘Thiruvarur’ and not an honorific). The available circular cement footpath in this park was a great boon to Amanjakarai and Shenoy Nagar residents, both children and grown-ups. The Metro rail station has conveniently swallowed this oxygen breather in this region. In the first decade of the present millennium, musical evenings used to be held in Thiru. Vi. Ka Poonga, thanks to Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, wherein leading singers and orchestras of Madras and elsewhere used to perform free in certain months of the year! Good music reached common people!

The letter on mourning the death of the word ‘toilet’ in Madras offered a humourous reading. Writer B Gautham’s lamentation is justified. The term ‘toilet’ (preferred saying would be twaa-lé) is in no way a bad term; it is a dignified term that can be used in formal contexts. Google Saraswati clarifies ‘toilet’ as follows: That reminds me. Essentially India follows the British style of speaking and writing English language, following the Oxford Dictionary. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) with globalisation and increasing influence of America on India, American expressions and usages (e.g., pants for trousers, elevator for lift, tire for tyres) are being seen more fashionable in India! Certainly American English has many nice things about it. But we need not change imagining that the use of English terms used by the Americans is more fashionable, such as ‘rest room’, ‘men’s (women’s) room’ for toilet! Incidentally, we also refer to a toilet as ‘bath room’! Another euphemism adapted from the 1940s American usage. Combining toilets with bathing areas (showers) was an introduction in American houses, whereas in most of Europe the two were separate facilities. But with this change in building styles, a ‘bath room’ tended to be more ‘dignified’ term than a lavatory or toilet!

A. Raman

A pleasure to view

The centrespread pictures in the August 16th issue (MM, Vol. XXXII No. 9) were so beautiful! And their appearing in Madras Musings make them more so…each one holding the gaze of the reader. It is difficult to rank the pictures, all of them pretty in their own way. I know there’s something about the common theme of the pictures but I am not able to put a finger on it. Bouquets to the photographer’s eye.

Srinivas Chari T.K.

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