CHENNAI: Six French women, wearing customised grey t-shirts that carried a photo impression of an auto rickshaw, were running around the two-century old library of Madras Literary Society (MLS) in Nungambakkam on Sunday. Members of the French Association Chennai Accueil, were making last-minute arrangements for the stop-over of a Rickshaw Rally organised exclusively for French citizens in India to ‘rediscover Chennai’.
“Access to beautiful buildings should not be restricted. Thus, came the idea of a Rickshaw Rally,” said Virginie d’ Yvoire, the lead organiser. She is also impressed by the open-minded and welcoming attitude of the people of Tamil Nadu.Nearly 50 French nationals took part in the fundraising rally. They visited prominent places in the city including Kuchipudi Art Academy, Bharathiar Illam Muesum, Chepauk Palace, Semmozhi Poonga, MGR Memorial House and Ashtalakshmi Temple in Besant Nagar.
“Chennai’s history inspires us a lot. The idea of ancient eco-friendly bags made us collaborate with Nandri Trust to manufacture ‘Namma Bags’, to control pollution,” said Marie Suzanne, who has been exploring the city for more than a year.
Happily moving around the rickshaws driven by the Super Ladies (as the organisers call the female drivers of Speed Trust), participants had to spend a couple of hours in the library campus. Unmindful of the hot weather, they enjoyed the team tasks of fixing puzzles and picking tender coconut shells.
Customising the rickshaws, selling Namma Bags and bringing back an unusual item found on the road were among the tasks given to the participants. “The crazy coconut race made us feel energetic, but we were disqualified,” laughed members of Team D. A few participants, who were eager to know about the interiors of MLS, climbed over and clicked pictures of the hall through the windows. Participants were provided with healthy refreshments. Age was no bar for the participants. While the youngest one was eight years old, there were also a few sexagenarian participants. The rally was organised as part of a fund-raising programme for three organisations namely Namma Beach-Namma Chennai, Speed Trust and Nandri Trust.