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Showing posts from 2006

Thannithurai Market

* Thannithurai Market

Buckingham Canal is a salt water navigation canal, running parallel to the Eastern coast, for over 420 km. It starts at Peddakanjam town on Krishna river (Krishna dist in AP) and after running in Chennai city, runs south and ends at Marakkanam of Villupuram dist. It was constructed in 1806, by the British for ferrying goods and sometimes people also.

The canal runs for nearly 31 km in Chennai city, and in pre-1950s its waters were clean and there was boat-transport. Where this canal flows near Luz Corner, in Mylapore, there is a vegetable market, called THANNI THURAI MARKET. ("Thurai" means where boats come and anchor).

Mr Bhashyam Iyengar, a Judge in Madras High Court owned this land, and he constructed this vegetable market, perhaps in 1901. Boats carrying freshest vegetables from south Andhra would anchor at the Thurai and vegetables sold in the market. Since the boats arrived only in the mornings, the Thanni thurai market will be the busiest in the mor…

Back to Eco-Friendly Ways


Many super-markets and shops in Chennai are becoming increasingly eco-friendly by promoting use of non-plastic bags. Previously the shops used to pack the purchased items in plastic carry-bags and give them to the customers. Now, they are changing.

Nilgiris, one of the upmarket shops in Chennai, is encouraging use of non-plastic bags by offering 1% discount if you bring your own jute / cloth / paper bags. On the other hand, Subhiksha, another middle-class retailer shop, charges 1% extra for their carry-bags ! Trinethra, another super-market shop, uses paper bags. Kalyan Stores in Mylapore packs all the commodities; like dhals, butter etc, in old-fashioned newspapers, tying them with jute thread (sanal kayiru) from overhead.

More and more people, those who care for a better Environment, have started carrying jute or cloth bags when they go for vegetables or grocery. The much- ridiculed "yellow" cloth bag (manjal pai) is taking a re-birth. Carrying bags …

A Tale of Two Cities


When I was in school in 1950's, one question in Geography used to pop up often was - "If Bangalore and Chennai are at the same latitude (13 deg North), how come the weather in these two cities differ so much?" The answer, of course, is "Bangalore is at 3000 feet (914 metres) above sea level," and this 914 metres makes all the difference !

I had gone to Bangalore quite a few times since 2003 and every time I feel this "difference" - Chennai will be - ALWAYS - hot, and humid, sweating and sultry, and Bangalore will be cool and pleasant. It is a pleasure to walk in Bangalore any time of the day and if it drizzles a wee bit, it is heavenly.

Take steaming hot-water bath, use razaais and quilts, wear your finest sweaters, and shawls. Eat piping hot makka-buttas or bajjis. Pleasures you can't think of in Chennai.

If only there was less traffic in Bangalore !!

12:20 August 18,2006

How I Became Rich

How I became "RICH"

You too can become RICH

ICICI bank had, till recently, a system called "Quantum Optima Deposits". The system worked like this: Your savings account was 'divided' into two - operative and non-operative. The operative a/c would normally hold upto 15,000/- and if it exceeds this by way of your subsequent deposits, the excess amount (over and above, say, 12000.00 would be diverted to a new QOD a/c. If you withdraw from your operative a/c, the amount will be supplemented (reverse sweep) from the most-recent QOD a/c.

Over the years, I had accumulated about 14 QOD accounts, for amounts as low as 252.00 and 259.00. I tried my best to get these QODs closed and have just one FD for the whole amount. The interest for these QODs were 5.5% whereas, ICICI was giving about 7% for its FDs. I was losing 1.5% interest for no fault of mine. Repeated requests thru Net banking failed to elicit any response.

Last week I took the trouble of visiting my branch (Nun…

Ratna Cafe


Are you a fan of Idli - Sambhar? Or Sambhar-Vadai? If your answer is YES, the place you should visit is Ratna Cafe in Thiruvallikkeni ( Triplicane), Chennai. You are not a fan? Then it is a MUST-VISIT for you. This eatery is more than 50 years' old.

Chennai people will swear by this eatery for that delicious Idlis. I was told that here in this eatery, they do not supply Sambhar in cups as practised in other hotels. Then how do they do it? "You have to go there personally to see for yourself", they said. "Okay," I said. Me and my wife proceeded to Thiruvallikkeni, Pycrofts Road.

Deviating from Idlis and Ratna Cafe, let me tell you that Pycrofts Road (Bharatiyar Salai) that runs East - West is a treat for book lovers. Its platform/pavement is chockfull of books, old and new, on all subjects under the sun. Verily it is a paradise for book worms. There are many regular book shops on this road, and some publishers also. You can see hundreds of peopl…

Koils in Madras

Koils in Madras.

This (16th July 2006) evening 5 PM, we (myself and Vijaya) embarked on a minor tour of "Koils-in-Mylapore."

We went to (1) Shri Veera Anjaneyar Koil, (2) Shri Adi Kesava Perumal Koil, (3) Shri Vedhantha Desikar Koil (both near the Chitrakulam, Mylapore. The (2) and (3) are very ancient koils. On our walk back home, we went to Shri Karpaka Vinayakar Koil, near our house. We walked non-stop for over 2 hours but the experience was most satisfying. An evening well spent, in stead of couch-potatoing in front of the dumb TV.

The place, streets and lanes, the houses around these Koils must be over 200 years' ancient and is a sight to behold. Remember my earlier mail two years ago on an ancient house in Mylapore, transporting us back in the Time machine? Today, we re-visited that place, but not that house. I like to visit such places of heritage, which mirror our culture.

Day before yesterday (14th) we went to Shri Ramakrishna Mutt, and Shri Saibaba Koil in Mylapore…

Panchang Gyan


We know that Sun travels through the 12 zodiac signs (rasis) in one year; that is one rasi per Tamil month. On Tamil New year day (Chiththirai first day), Sun enters the first rasi - Mesham.
On Vaikasi 1st, he enters the second rasi - Rishabam. And so on. Since each rasi subtends an arc of 30 degrees, he travels app. 1 deg per day.

Every day, the Sun travels through all the 12 rasis. Now these are called as LAGNAS of the day. At the exact time of sunrise, it starts in the rasi (lagnam) corresponding to the month (Chithrai = Mesham etc). and after travelling thru that lagnam, it enters the next lagnam, travels thru this lagnam, then enters 3rd lagnam -- etc etc, till the next sunrise. Thus, we see that the time taken to travel thru one lagnam will be 24 hours / 12 lagnams = 2 hours (approx ) in one lagnam.

Converting this in Tamil units, it would mean 5 naazhigais per lagnam (one hour = 2 1/2 naazhigais). But it is exactly not so. The time per lagnam d…

These Amazing People

These Amazing People.

A couple of weeks back I read in Vikatan a story (by Mr Ramakrishnan ?) in which an IIT-ian, MS-educated in US and employed in US, comes to his small town where his old father is employed as a kanakku pillai. The son does not have any high respect for his father's job - "after all a small kannakku pillai".

One day, the son's mobile phone goes haywire, he can't switch it on or use it. All of a sudden, the son's world goes berserk - he does not remember a single telephone number, a bank a/c number, or any number for that matter. All blank. Every single digit is stored in his mobile !

Then, he overhears his father talking to a group of customers - the old man is reeling out figures after figures to each man. The son is astounded - how could this "small kanakku pillai" remember so many different numbers for so many people ? He is brought down to the earth with a thud, and he seeks forgiveness mentally from his father.

There are many su…

Baraats in GRS Family

Baraats in GRSfamily

Today in Indian Express I read a column on baraats and my mind floated back to some of the baraats in GRS Family. Not in the strict sense that the word is understood in North India, but the way we (the groom's party) travelled & reached the mandapam.

In anna's (GSR) marriage (1956), I remember only that I travelled in First Class (railways) to Kumbakonam. thanks to the Free Passes that Pappa Chiththi had. Obviously, I impersonated someone in her family (Gopu, perhaps?). I don't remember how we travelled to Coimbatore for Sundaresan's marriage (1965).

For my marriage (1971), I vividly remember we had packed everything by 9PM the previous night and everyone was sleeping as though in a station platform. The passenger train to Chengalpattu was at 4.00AM; we got up at 2 AM, anna brought a kattai vandi and we loaded our luggage and proceeded, on foot, to the station. At Villupuram station (6 AM) where the train halted for more than 30 minutes, anna and …

Who Needs a Menu Card?

Who Needs a Menu Card?!

Some weeks back I read that the latest trend in the hotel industry is to "throw away that Menu card." If you have a menu card, the thinking goes, you should have all the items printed in the card ready, for one wouldn't know what customers would order for! The inventory increases, workload increases, profits nose-dive. On the other hand, the thinking continues, if you prepare just a few selected items, the chances of success gets increased!

I saw this "latest" (!!) thinking in operation yesterday, when Vijaya and I were strolling down the Mada Streets of Mylapore. Next to the Kapaaleeswarar Temple, we saw there was a crowd jostling around a window. Curiosity taking over me, I approached the window and I saw to my amazement that there was a house on the other side of the window; and they were selling bajjis.

Just urulaikkizhangu bajjis and vazhaikkai bajjis. Only these two items. Persons, most likely Brahmin women, were making hot-hot bajjis…

Arupaththu Moovar Festival

Aruvathimoovar Festival

Every year, during the Tamil month of Panguni, on Uththiram Star, the "Aruvathimoovar" festival is celebrated in Sri Kapaleeswarar Koil, Mylapore.

To honour the 63 naayanmaars; some of the more famous naayanmaars are Appar, Sundarar, Manickavasagar, (thirugnana) Sambandar, Kannappar. The decorated 63 idols are taken in procession around the four mada veedhis, followed by Sri Kapaleeswarar Himself. This is the most important festival in the ongoing Panguni Utsavam of the Koil.

Today (April 11th, 2006) was the festival. Myself and Vijaya went to RK Mutt road on some other errand, and when we hit the road we couldn't believe our eyes - was it the same old RK Mutt road on which we walk daily? No, it can't be ! The road had transformed totally into a mega Mela, with thousands of men, women, and children ambling about. Mostly women and children, in their festival best !

For those who don't know RK Mutt road, this is the road that runs North - South,…

Say NO to autos

Say NO to autos (in Chennai)

Myself and Vijaya went to Coimbatore on 5th April for one day. During this outing we outclassed ourselves - even otherwise, we are two frugal people - not thrifty, but ecnomical, definitely. Yes, we count our paise and think twice before parting with it. A habit for over 60 odd years in my case, and 50 odd in Vijaya's case, does not wash off, you see, in a single monsoon drizzle!

We would have decided to travel by autorickshaw, but when we see the difference between the MTC fare in Chennai (they are downright silliest in the World) and the auto fare (they are the downright atrocious in the world), we change our mind and travel in MTC bus. Or, even better, WALK (if ihe distance permits) ! It has happened a lot of times. Ditto for many other purchases, eating-out, etc.

This visit to Coimbatore was just for a day, we had less luggage to carry; so our minds refused to travel by auto to Central Station (65 - 70 rupees) - we took instead bus No 21 (just 7.00 fo…

PV Parthasarathy

Mr PV Parthasarathy passed away yesterday (Sunday 2nd Apr) at his Venkatesa Agraharam (Mylapore) house. He was 81. Known popularly as PVP, he was the co-founder of Kumudam.

When studying in Law College, he forged a friendship with one of his fellow students - SAP Annamalai (chettiyar) - which lasted a life-time. These two youngsters shared a dream for a more informed society and national fervour and the two decided to start a magazine in Tamil.

They met two other like-minded eager youngsters - Raa Ki Rangarajan and Ja Raa Sundaresan - and the foursome put in their collective efforts and started KUMUDAM - that was in 1947. It was decided that SAP Annamalai would look after editorial (and financing the venture) matters with able inputs from Raa Ki and Ja Raa and PVP, very adept at commercial matters, would be the publisher.

Kumudam started coming from 1947 and its first issue had a print run of 2000 copies. It had to compete with well-established magazines like Ananda Vikatan, Kalki, Kalai…

Samuel Eto'O

Samuel Eto'o

SAMUEL ETO'O (b:1981) is a brilliant footballer from Cameroon, Africa, with exceptional skill.

Youngest player to play in 1998 WC, Eto'o has won the prestigious "African Footballer of the Year" twice for 2003 and 2004. He lost out as the "World Footballer of the Year" award this year (which Ronaldinho won for the second year in a row).

He plays for the Spanish club Barcelona (along with Ronaldinho), and in a league match last Saturday (Feb 25) against Zaragoza, he was racially abused and insulted by a section of the Zaragozan fans. Continuos chanting of "Monkey, monkey" by these animals ranted the pitch. (This was widely reported in Indian newspapers too)

Totally fed up, Samuel wanted to leave the pitch in utter disgust (he was actually leaving the pitch), but Ronaldinho could succeed in calming him down and he resumed playing - in fact, he scored a goal thereafter ! What a shame. Spanish authorities are contemplating stern action aga…

Hail Indian Postal Dept

* Hail Indian Postal Dept

Since I moved to Raja Annamalaipuram in Sept 2005, I pay my monthly landline tel bills at the RA Puram postoffice.

The PO building must be of pre-Independence vintage, dilapidated, dingy, and dark. A narrow passage_way doubles as the customers' place. Adnan Sami would easily be stuck up here. Five counters serve the customers, comprising mostly Post office Monthly Income Scheme (watch out for a seperate blog on this POMIS shortly) account holders.Counter No 3 is for Tel Bills and Money Orders.

In good old days (read a couple of years ago), the clerk had to write the details (both for TBs and MOs) on the receipts (with a carbon copy). This obviously took 5-6 minutes per customer. But, in RA Puram PO, the clerk sits in front of a console, keys in the details, press the PRINT button - and the self-adhesive label-type receipt pops out of the DMP. How convenient!

This month (Jan 2006) when I presented my bill for payment, surprise, surprise, the clerk took out a h…

KEERAI - Heavenly Keerai

Keerai, Heavenly Keerai

Let me today start with one of my most favorite pastime - cooking Keerai - the greens that all health-docs advise you to eat daily.

Purchase a kattu, it should cost you just 3 Re or 5. Cut off the roots 1 inch from the bottom and remove all unwanted "pul" etc. Wash thoroughly three or four times in running water, and cut the keerai.Take a kadai, add some water and then the keerai. Let it cook over a small fire.

Add three long pachchai milagai slit vertically. Add a teaspoon of manjal podi. Let it boil for 5 minutes. Add a small teaspoonful of salt and allow to boil for some more time. Add a little perunkayam. Just before shutting the fire, add a pinch of jeerakam and remove from the fire.

Take a ladle of keerai, mix with steaming rice and a liberal dose of desi ney - can you ask for anything more heavenly

24 Jan 2006