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Vol. XXXIII No. 4, June 1-15, 2023

Our Readers Write

Remembering Randor

I was introduced to Randor Guy sometime in the Eighties, and had occasion to meet him off and on since then. Years later, I had to see him professionally and prepared to write his case sheet. I asked him his name. He looked surprised. “You know me, doctor,” he said. “Of course I do,” I replied, “but a case sheet is an official document and I need your official name.” “Randor Guy,” he said. “Everybody knows me by that name and none other, so I officially changed my name to Randor Guy. Even my bank account is in that name.”

M.K. Mani
1, Kasturirangan Road
Chennai 600 018.

On Podis

It was interesting to read a write-up by Sabita (MM May 1-15) about podis which have been an integral part of South Indian cuisine, particularly in Central Tamil Nadu. The varieties are numerous – Pirandai podi, Thengai podi, Paruppu podi, Karuveppilai podi and Poondu podi, each named after their respective ingredients – for instance, Paruppu podi is made from Thuvar dhal. These podis are mixed with rice and a spoonful of gingelly oil added for taste. Traditionally, this meal comes around once a week, on the days when kuzhambu and rasam are not prepared. These podis are prepared at home. Injee podi is used to address digestion problems. A spoonful of injee podi first thing in the morning cures digestion ailments. Nowadays, few shops stock these podis.

Apart from podis, vathal is also a famous South Indian condiment. Sundakka vathal and manathakkali vathal are popular. Vepamboo is dried and used with rice. Vepamboo is also used to make rasam and has medicinal properties.

The podis and vathals above are made beforehand and stored for almost a year. They are served with rice and sutta appalam (roasted papad)to unexpected guests as a treat. Certainly, one could ­experience the magic of podis and vathals when they are tasted!

S.R. Rajagopal
MIG/3/1/13, Brindavan Tower
129, Anna Main Road
K.K. Nagar
Chennai 600 078

Yet another ‘restoration’ of Buckingham Canal

This is regarding your article Yet another restoration of Buckingham Canal in MM, May 1st, 2023.

The historic Buckingham Canal runs from Pulicat Regulator in Andhra and travels through Tamil Nadu and reaches the sea at Port Novo in Cuddalore district. In ancient times, this canal was a navigable waterway for transporting commodities from Andhra to Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu. The restoration of Buckingham Canal is not feasible in the present scenario – the project has faced many hurdles and now the canal is a regular sewage carrier and occasional flood carrier. But the canal can be modernised to suit the present environment.

The concern was about the proposed budget, which runs to crores with two-digit decimal points. Please note that the budget allotment, work estimate and actual expenditure will never tally.

Six months ago, I sent a proposal to the government to ‘modernize’ the Buckingham Canal but not for the restoration of the canal. In the proposal, I suggested the following idea for the stretch of Buckingham Canal that runs from Sivananda Salai to Adyar:

1. Both sides of the canal should be provided with concrete walls after removing the small hut encroachments. These concrete walls can be constructed and the top covered with concrete slabs very easily with modern technology. Please note that a stretch of about one kilometre between Chennai Central Station and Mofussil Station. is provided with concrete walls and covered with slabs.

2. All the sewage presently entering the canal should be allowed as it is to flow through the proposed closed canal and pumped to some destination and from there it should be treated.

So the stretch provided with concrete walls and slabs will give a space of about of 30 to 50 meters in width on average for some kilometres, which can be used for gardening and other purposes.

The idea of forming a navigable canal in this stretch should be ignored. Because in this present environment, it is not necessary and not possible. After converting this canal as mentioned above, another stretch towards the North of Basin Bridge can be taken up for modernisation to suit that area.

I trust that based on these basic ideas, the Government Engineers have done thorough work on the proposal and arrived at some amount for a particular length. Accordingly, based on their recommendation, the Government has announced the budget amount.

Thanappan K.

Editor’s Note: While we accept reader Thanappan’s explanation on budgets, we respectfully disagree with him on the idea of covering the Buckingham Canal and letting it remain a sewer. Worldwide, rivers and streams that have been covered are now being opened up and it is necessary for the canal to be left open, and its water improved upon. It is also not correct to state that the canal has only sewage. Unlike the Cooum, Buckingham Canal has access to water by tidal action and this needs to flow.

Open portion of Buckingham Canal covered with weeds in front of Central Station.

Buckingham Canal at the backside of the Chepauk Cricket Stadium.

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