CHENNAI: Did you know that the math whiz Ramanujam stayed in one of the bungalows near Pachaiyappa’s College during his last few years in India? Or the stretch where the Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School is located is also called Napier’s Garden? For such revelations and more, join photographer and organiser of Chennai Photowalk Ramaswamy Nallaperumal for a brisk walk this Sunday morning along the Cooum — starting from Pachaiyappa’s College and ending at Harrison’s Hotel junction.
“People take these routes daily, but nobody actually stops and observes the places they pass by,” says Ramaswamy. “During our walks, we usually stop at each point and take photos,” he adds. With discussions and clicks accompanying each step, the usual two-kilometre stretch they walk takes a good over two hours to complete.
Ramaswamy has been part of Chennai Photowalk since its induction by a group of enthusiasts in 2010. Later, when the persons who started the photowalk group left elsewhere, Ramaswamy took the onus of continuing the practice. While on an average he gets 40 companions — mostly retired people and kids — there are times when the number exceeds 100. “Like in the 75th photowalk we had in Besant Nagar. We had 101 participants mostly from the IT crowd,” he says.
Now, in the 79th walk and having covered most places in Chennai including the interior roads like the Veteran Lines in Pallavaram and those in Thiruninravur, Ramaswamy says he has to rack his brains over deciding a new route every last weekend of the month.
“Before deciding on the place, I take my bike and check out the spots along the stretch and decide if it would be interesting enough. This time we chose a stretch which houses Ramanujan’s bungalow as it coincides with the release of Ramanujan movie,” he says with a laugh. After zeroing in on the route, he brushes his knowledge by going through a collection of books on Chennai that he has stacked up at his residence. “INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) guide is the best of all. It has the history of all buildings in Chennai. I would have completed at least 40 to 50 revisions of it,” he says.
Also known for his online blogging site Chennai Daily Photo, where he posts a photo of the city a day, Ramaswamy believes that a photo taken today might become history tomorrow. “Like the photo of the Pachaiyappa’s entrance I took during one of the photowalks before the arch was knocked off for Metro Rail construction. Now, no one can see the arch, but I have captured it in my photo,” he says. But not all members in the photowalk come with cameras. “A few just walk with us, a few click only flowers and a few others sketch what they see,” he says. Then there are others who just want to know more about the city. This includes people who have just shifted to Chennai, Brazilians, Americans and Spaniards.
The walk on Sunday will start at 6.30 am at the side gate of Pachaiyappa’s College (near IOB), and will cross Harrington Road, MCC School, Chinmaya Heritage Centre, Seva Sadan and Lady Andal. For those interested, follow http://chennaiphotowalk.wordpress.com/