They say there is no sense as evocative as the sense of smell, maybe that’s why I still remember the time I took my first whiff of Chennai. It was midnight in early June and I was about to step out of the deodorized sterility of the city’s excuse-for-an-airport. I was readying myself for a blast of hot air from the bowels of an equatorial hell with an attached steam chamber. Thankfully, that blast never came, or I wouldn’t have been recounting this as fondly. What greeted me was the aroma of the wet earth, the patter of rainfall on the aluminium roof of the terminal; a cool breeze ruffled my unruly curls and I remember thinking to myself as I stepped onto the concrete: hell, this ain’t half as bad as people make it out to be. Continue reading
Remembering Chennai evokes a chequerboard of emotions in me, both black and white and almost in equal measure. And before the recent past transforms into the good ol’ days, imbuing every memory with a glossy sheen of forgetful nostalgia, I thought I should record my thoughts about this city that was beginning to feel like home; before it got too hot. I mean Madras did give me a few things to cherish: it taught me to take pride in sporting a stache, its ghee-laden cuisine bestowed upon me my slight (in my imagination) potbelly that I’ll have to work off, and it gave me a rigorous training in reporting around a completely alien tongue that should hold me in good stead. Continue reading
The law against domestic violence passed in 2005 is not making a significant difference to the lives of thousands of women in Tamil Nadu who continue to be battered and abused, a senior government officer told this reporter.
“Unfortunately, this is a progressive legislation that is not making much progress”, said Saroja Thiruvengadam, Deputy Director at the Directorate of Social Welfare, Tamil Nadu, referring to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) in 2005. Continue reading
Just a stone’s throw from the sands of Marina Beach in Chennai lies the Santhome Basilica, a towering structure in pristine white that is one of the only three churches in the world to house the remains of the one of the original Apostles of Jesus, St. Thomas or Doubting Thomas, who is most famous for refusing to believe in the resurrection of Jesus until he saw the physical injuries on Jesus’ body and for being instrumental in spreading Christianity in South India back in the 1st century A.D. Continue reading
A nondescript building in the busy commercial hub of Parrys in Chennai houses the Armenian Church, one of the oldest churches in the Indian subcontinent built in 1712 by the mercantile Armenian community that made Chennai their home for three centuries. In an ironic twist of history, the once functional church now serves as a heritage site and graveyard and has 350 Armenians buried inside the church compound.