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Vol. XXXIII No. 23, March 16-31, 2024

Our Readers Write

World Heritage day

As we celebrate World Heritage Day on 18 April, we need to understand that heritage is something that is passed down to future generations from our earlier generations. Heritage sites which show the cultural diversity of our planet are treasures of the past and gifts that are handed down to us. It becomes the duty of every citizen of every country to protect the heritage sites irrespective of the location of the sites.

T.S. Karthik
Kilpauk, Chennai

On street names

I read with interest the mention in a couple of Madras Musings issues about name changes to streets in old Madras. The one that caught my eye was Rundall Road. From December 1964 to July 1965, as a foreign student from the US, I lived in a small boarding house at 3 Rundalls (that is how I spelled it then) Road run by Mrs. Hilda Raghavachari. She was, if memory serves, a graduate of Madras Christian College.

I was in Madras to study modern India history and politics. After I met with my contact at the university, a political science professor, in early January 1965, I began a reading course with him. As it turned out my real lesson in politics took place outside of the university and on the streets of Madras. I refer here to the anti-Hindi riots of early 1965. They closed down the school and brought students and activists to the streets as well as police with their lathi sticks. The police did their best to control the protesters but were not always successful. On one occasion I found myself in the midst of a wave of students being chased by police. I simply stood still as the crowds surged around me and was not harmed. One of the more interesting signs the student activists held up sent a message that said: “Down with Hindi Imperialism.” Though during this time we were under government instruction not to go out, my intrepid landlady, Mrs. Ragh, curious about what was going on, hopped into her car, and she and I and her daughter Radha, drove around the city checking out an eerily silent Madras. When things calmed down I bought a bike and made my way around town on a regular basis–to the university, to the American Library, and to various other Madras destinations (including restaurants where I learned to enjoy, and still do, Indian food). I remember well biking south on a road north of St. Andrew’s Church, and risking life and limb to turn left onto Poonamalle High Road with the church on my right.

My stay was sponsored by Rotarians who sent me on speaking tours around South India (e.g., Bangalore, Mysore, Salem, Cochin, and so on). One of many highlights of my stay was the day a couple of Rotarians from Madras West Rotary Club took me to tour the ruins of Mahabalipuram. In addition to seeing the fabulous statues, etc., I also for the first and only time, so far, drank coconut milk directly from the shell. On another trip I toured the temple carved into a rock near Madurai. The temple was enormously impressive. Two other good and memorable times: visiting hill station Ooty to speak at a Rotary Club, and Kodai to vacation with a Rotary family.

Now, back to where I started. Can you tell me the result of the inquiry into changing name of Rundall Road? On Google Maps I can’t find it so I assume it was changed. Can you tell me the new name?

John M. Carland
Arlington, VA

Rundall’s Road is now EVK Sampath Road.
– The Editor

About Tangedco

This refers to the news item under the caption “Tangedo dubs consumers power thieves, pockets crores” in Times of India dated Feb 21, 2024. It was stated while TANGEDCO is supposed to disconnect power supply in case of failure to pay the charges on due date and restore supply after dues along with reconnection charges are paid, TANGEDCO does not follow the rules of disconnecting the supply citing manpower shortage and instead, treats the power consumed after the due date as ‘theft’ and imposes hefty penalty .

The present modus operandi is that if a consumer fails to pay the dues, besides the payment of the dues, he has to not only pay the reconnection charges but also the hefty charges for power theft. The report stated that the practice of TANGEDCO branding consumers as energy thieves has been rampant in city and suburbs, of late.

The practice is atrocious and authoritarian and deserves condemnation. The pilferage of energy can be construed only if the consumption does not get recorded in the meter. When the consumption gets duly recorded, how can a consumer be branded as thief and imposed penalty?

While TANGEDCO is mandated to disconnect power supply in case of failure to pay the charges on due date, why does it not follow rules? The ruse that it does not have manpower to do so, is ridiculous. Its failure to do its duty results in consumers being dubbed as power thieves. In other words it is because of the dereliction of duty by its officials that a consumer is forced to pay whopping amounts, which, in the normal course would have been the amount due plus the reconnection charges. For the inefficiency, inertia and lethargy of the officials, the consumers should not be made to pay. The TANGEDCO should give up such obnoxious practices.

V.S. Jayaraman
31 Motilal Street
Chennai 600 017

Information needed

I am doing a Thesis on ‘Collector of Customs’ for Chennai formerly Madras around the 1880s and forward. I found the name of the Collector of Customs ‘Joseph Armstrong’ during that period but can’t go further finding anything else on Joseph Armstrong, Collector of Customs Chennai/Madras which I need for my Thesis. I’ll be grateful if you could please assist me find anything else on Joseph Armstrong, Collector of Customs.

Kerry King

Flower Show

The account given by Sriram V. about the flower show (Flower shows at the Agri-­Horticultural Society in MM, Feb. 16th, 2024) was delightful. It gave me an opportunity to have a glimpse of the days when I used to frequent the renowned drive-in restaurant “Woodlands”. That was a place for meeting my friends some of whom are no more. It is good that the flower show was reinstated after a long time. The fascinating photos of flowers before the article and the other article followed but connected with the flower show by Vinita Sidhartha (“A floral delight for senior citizens”) also were enchanting for a senior citizen like me now far away from the location. A bouquet of kudos to MM.

K. Rajendran

Shedding light on the picture

In the last issue, the article titled City Beautiful Then, Singara Chennai Now had a pic that was published without a caption. The people in it are (l to r) Raja Sir M.A. Muthiah Chettiar, first Indian Mayor of the city, V. Narayanan, the then Mayor, R.P. Sarathy, then President of the Rotary Club of Madras and C.A. Ramakrishnan, ICS, then Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu.

– The Editor

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