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Vol. XXXIII No. 6, July 1-15, 2023

Our Readers Write

The Randor I knew

I wanted to write about dear Randor, whom I had known fairly well.

A long time ago, I was attending a dinner in Delhi hosted by my colleague Muthuswamy Varadharajan, accompanied by my wife. Alarmel Valli and her mother were there, too. There was some talk about the writers at The Hindu and we were wondering about this chap Randor Guy. Was he a foreigner like Ellis Dungan, or an Anglo-Indian, perhaps? It was Alarmel Valli who enlightened us – his name was, in fact, Rangadorai.

I happened to meet him when we came to Chennai in 1999, post retirement. A most friendly person, he visited our house on one occasion and showed a lot of interest in my wife’s writings. He always enquired about her whenever I spoke to him over the phone. It was he who took me to R.T. Chari and his TAG lectures. I attended almost all his talks, which were scintillating. At times, I supplemented what he forgot!

I visited his house in Ayanavaram once and met his wife, too His friend Sridharan took me on another occasion. Sridharan told me later that they had moved to a hospice and that Randor might not be able to talk to me or recognize me. He rightly advised me to remain with the pleasant old memories.

I do not know whether he wrote a book on the Alavandar murder case. But he told me that he wanted to write about the Lakshmikanthan murder case, but could not get authentic information. One of the accused – Aarya Veera Seenan, as I recall – had advised him not to pursue the matter! According to Randor, there was a mystery in the Boat Mail murder case too.

At times, I used to wonder about the claims he made but found him to be accurate in all details. I cross-checked one or two matters. He was related to some Iyengar trustees of the Varadaraja temple in Kanchi, whose two boys were known to me in Vellore. Randor gave information about them. He was screening Krishna Bhakti. I enquired from Randor as to who acted as Vasudeva carrying Krishna. He rightly told me that it was one Rajagopalan who also used to come often to see his law senior – V.C. Gopalaratnam. I told Randor that this supporting actor – we used to call him Rajagopala Aiyer with a tuft – was actually my own Mami’s father. He acted as a Judge in Pakshiraja’s Eazhai Padum Padu (an adaptation of Les Miserables). So Randor was accurate and humorous.

My wife and I feel that it was nice knowing him.

Dr. G.Sundaram, IAS (R)
A 601, Dugar Apartments
Keshav Perumal Puram
Greenways Road
Chennai 600 028

Boating in Buckingham Canal

Thanappan K. has highlighted the condition of the Buckingham Canal in the city (MM, June 1st) while pointing out that the Canal traverses a long distance. The stretch south of Thiruvanmiyur is quite clean. Why not introduce boating in this stretch?

B. Gautham
137 Wallajah Road
Chennai 600 002

The new MA Chidambaram Stadium

As I read this article, I recalled a couple of test matches that I saw from the E Stands of this Stadium.

At the end of the piece, there is a mention that there are plans to introduce a tour of the historic MAC stadium. I welcome this idea, as a similar practice is followed at MCG, Melbourne, Australia. When there are no matches, the public is allowed to book a tour online by pre-selecting the date and time slot. Visitors are grouped in tens and led on a walk around the stadium by an expert guide. Some groups start clockwise and some anticlockwise, so that the route does not get crowded at any point. The museum has a special entry with a sports shop inside – another way of pulling in revenue. The administration has to only ensure that the stadium precincts are well-maintained, regardless of whether there is a match or a tour.

Arumugam PK
A101, Cedar Block 
Prince Greenwoods Apartments
Vanagaram Road, Athipet
Chennai 600058

Anna Nagar west — a place for peace and harmony

Today, Anna Nagar is a prestigious locality to live in. However, the event which brought Anna Nagar into focus and existence is sadly forgotten. Madras, with a century-long history of fairs, saw it’s first industry-oriented event in The Indian International Trade and Industries Fair of 1968. Organised by the All India Manufacturers organisation to showcase Indian industrial development post-Independence, it was planned to be the largest international trade fair in Asia.

The location identified was the Naduvankarai village on the north bank of the Cooum. The fair was scheduled to open in 1967 but that being a watershed year in Madras politics, the fair was postponed by a year until the new government found its bearings. Now, we have a Metro station at Thirumangalam as well as the Anna Nagar Station for the locals and the area is well connected on all sides. In the beginning, the Anna Nagar arch was the entry point from one side and later on other entry points cropped up from Koyambedu, Mogappair, Padi and Villivakkam. The Industrial area of Padi gave a big boost as the TI group and TVS had their units in here, providing employment for people. Having lived in this area since 1983, I have really enjoyed the true value of life in such surroundings.

The Anna Nagar area near the Exhibition spot attracted many Malayalis and the Telugu speaking people to form their base there. Anna Nagar West has become a highly cosmopolitan area. The Ayyapan Temple is a landmark and devotees throng the shrine during the festival days of Vishu and Onam. Later on, we saw a church come up too, accompanied by a Saravana Bhavan branch. The Thirumani Amman Temple is another divine centre for the 13th Main Road residents. At that time, the consumerist trend assumed greater importance for household purchases and this area was surrounded by shopping amenities. The Anna Adarsh Educational Centre brought many families to the Shanthi Colony area, and it is now a prime locality. The road leads you to Hot Chips. Senthil Nursing Home meets the medical needs of the people. And then there is Adyar Ananda Bhavan, which provides delicious sweets like Krishna Sweets.

A new flyover now connects Anna Nagar to the Airport and the Mogappair belt that has many medical facilities and is a major residential complex. The locality hosted the world expo and the venue was later converted into a residential layout by the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) in the 1970s. The iconic Tower Park that was constructed during the expo remains the area’s landmark. It was built in 1968 by B.S. Abdur Rahman and was inaugurated by the then Vice-President V.V. Giri on January 21 in the presence of the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu C.N. Annadurai. The iconic 12-story tower with a spiraling ramp overlooks a surrounding park, fountain and sport courts. The park has restrooms, a play area, skate and a dance area. There is also an elevator. Named after M. Visweswarayya, it somehow got renamed as the Anna Nagar Clock Tower but as such there is no clock to prove that point.

Access to the top of the tower will soon become a reality when the Greater Chennai Corporation opens it to the public after a 12-year hiatus, once the ongoing renovation works are complete.

At a cost of Rs. 62 million, the park underwent renovations and reopened in 2010. Entry to the tower has been prohibited since 2011 due to incidents of suicides and scribblers, making the city lose a valuable tourist destination. To quickly reopen it to the public, the authorities began a Rs. 3 million renovation project in 2018. The civic body began repair work last year to install grills to cover open balconies on each of the 12 levels of the building, making it safe for use by the public and ensuring visitor safety. The tower, which was originally supposed to be opened to the public last month, was delayed due to the artwork undertaken in and around the locality. While the tower has been closed to the public, the park continues to be in use.

As an old timer from Thirumangalam, I enjoyed the tower surroundings and my children liked strolling in the area as the place was a landmark. Those days, the crowd was less, but now, the number has increased since there are lots of other attractions. A functional toy train going round the tower area can give value added attraction. Charges must be collected for entry as maintenance must be upgraded to provide the best ambience. The people should realise and keep the place neat and clean following Swachh Bharat Abhiyan guidelines strictly. After all, cleanliness is next to Godliness.

C.K. Subramaniam

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  1. K S Rajan says:

    With Randor Guy gone, not many with his depth of inquiry!
    Want to know more of life of Spencer Venugopal , if anyone can elaborate.
    A music lover and exceptional human being .
    There are some compositions or raga in his name !

  2. C.K. SUBRAMANIAM says:

    Need for prompt postal services

    The workload at the post office has considerably increased due to an increase in the number of customers and the introduction of new savings schemes. In this situation, providing additional staff and modern facilities is an absolute requirement. Surprisingly, the number of counters for this work has been reduced to just two, as a result of which people have to wait for hours to be served. Even a simple job like updating a passbook or receiving Form 15 H or 15 G takes hours. Part of the work of the postal staff could be reduced if a self-updating machine for passbooks is provided. And the precious time of the people could be saved if a drop box for Form 15 H or Form 15 G is provided. Our country now makes modern and superfast trains like the Vande Bharat and our scientists undertake missions to the Moon but the department of posts, the oldest and the biggest organisation in the country, takes hours to serve the people, who visit the post offices for depositing or withdrawing small amounts of money. What a sad contrast. Will the head of the post offices do whatever it takes to provide prompt and better service to its customers, especially the senior citizens?

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