27 August 2011

Tambaram

During the early 70's I lived with my parents and brothers (my kid brother was born a few years later) in Bangalore.  At that time, my father was affiliated to Friends World College.  He was also a leading intellectual and a political commentator of those times. One of his many activities was to attend seminars and conferences pertaining to politics.  I presume some of these fell during our school vacations, because we accompanied him and my mother now and then.

One time, we went to Tambaram to attend a seminar.  I recall passing through Madras as it was called then, spotting the beach where several fishermen were busy. It stank.  There were some high rise buildings.  Of course high rise in those days meant 6 stories. We took a train from Madras to Tambaram.  It was a sort of a small shuttle that operated between Chennai and Tambaram.  It stopped at quaint stations like Egmore and St.Thomas Mount.  My brother and I laughed at Egmore, making it sound like Egg-more. When St Thomas Mount passed by, I could spy the hillock with a church on top of it from the train window.  I had this urge to jump out of the train and explore it.


As it happened, we did visit Egmore.  My father's friends, who were from the erstwhile royal family, a graceful old couple, invited us to dine at their club in Egmore.  We told them about our egg-more joke  and they laughed.  They represented an old gracious world that I feel so nostalgic about.  Later, they even invited us to spend some time in their little cottage up in Nilgiri hills.  It was this invitation that gave rise to me naming my blog thus.  But more about that later.




One day, we also visited St Thomas Mount, on my express request, and climbed the hillock up to the quaint old church.  It was much much later that I learned of the historical significance of the place.  At that time, it was a fabulous adventure to get down at an unknown barren looking place with nothing but a hillock and a church that shone from a distance.


At Tambram we stayed at some college, I forget the name now.  I have a feeling it was Christian College.  Maybe it has been renamed now.  In those days it was a solid square structure, rather antique looking.  Not like this freshly painted one in the picture I got off Google.  We were alloted rooms and beds, but no bedding.  I remember feeling petulant about that, but soon forgot the discomfort when some of Dad's students arrived.  Friends World College was based on the premise of practical, applied studies.  Hence, if a student wanted to study Indian Politics, they were expected to get down and dirty, and not just read books.  The 70s were still hung over from the very hippie 60s and these kids were very 'flower children' like sans the charas and beads.  If they did charas, they certainly kept it out of the sight of the impressionable teenagers that my brother and I were.  My time in Tambaram was spent in visiting the railway station to hit the bookstall for some books to read.  Then there was a juice guy at the end of the college road who made a black grape juice to die for.  It was a beautiful campus, serene and tree-lined.  It was from a time when buildings were integrated into nature and did not stand out like sore thumbs.

11 comments:

  1. I have been there 7-8 years ago. It's a chaotic place.

    Anyways, recalling a place so vividly even after 40 odd years is just amazing. Hats off. It was as if you visited that place yesterday.

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  2. Another thing is 70s rocked. I have always believed people who were teenagers in 70s had seen, felt, saw the best times of the world. Wish I would have too

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  3. Ava,
    I remember going to Madras Christian College - MCC as it is still known (you got the name right) back in 1974 for my B.Sc. admission. I was late, and hence stood no chance. Moreover, being a minority college, they had more seats for Christian students - and so does Loyola College in the heart of the city - Nungambakkam.

    Later, in 1977, before I got admission to my B.E. in IISc, I again applied for my M.Sc in MCC and I remember to have got a seat - but that was after my BE admission.

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  4. Vee: That is my intention. To record everything I remember about the past before I forget. My older brothers' memory is better than mine.

    You know, I thought the people who were young in the 50s were the lucky ones. I am sure your kids will say something about being young in the 90s... hehehe.. just you wait

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  5. Raj, I have such fond memories of South India. Thanks to my father, I was able to see a lot of it.

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  6. have never been to Madras/Chennai. well not quite true, I spent some 4 hours at the railway station when I was 10 or something.
    nice description, makes me want to go there, though Madras is one place that was never on my list of to-go places.

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  7. Ummmmm Harv.. not exactly touristy, but if you do happen to find yourself there, not too bad either.

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  8. wonderful recalling of old days..reading this took me to year 1981 when in may I joined Officers Training school located at St Thomas Mount...Cannot forget my stay there as Gentleman Cadet...enjoyed reading this blog

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  9. Thanks Uttam. I am sure the place was idyllic in 1981.

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  10. Thanks johnnie.. Dont know what shape it is in now.

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