Gathering for a Chit-Chat About Chetpet
CHENNAI: Did you know that there is a jeeva samadhi of a saint Gangadhara Navalar, on one of the quieter streets off Harrington Road? And, the mythology about the origin of the Cooum River, which we all curse today for the mosquito menace? Those who attended the special event by Story Corner at Bookmine called Stories About and Around Harrington Road on Saturday evening, took home a treasure of trivia and thoughts to ponder over.
Speakers like historian, journalist and author S Muthiah, author and humorist Ja Ra Sundaresan alias Bhakkiam Ramasami of ‘Appusami’ fame and P S Padmapriya, author, gave delightful nuggets of information about the locality, in a brief talk.
Muthiah kindled curiosity in the minds of residents, asking them to go out and explore their neighbourhood. “There is a fascinating story in every area of Chennai. Go and explore,” he said.
Padmapriya, whose blog Alayam Kanden, has been creating awareness about temples, shared information about some of the places of worship in and around Harrington Road. She also spoke about the samadhis that are relatively unknown to even most of the locality’s long-time residents. Sundaresan, who has been living in Chetpet for over 50 years now, gave a humorous twist to the session, as he spoke about his early days when he worked as an apprentice at a company in the neighbourhood. He said, “There was a time when everyone in the company was losing their jobs, but I was retained. I thought it was because I used to help one of the engineers write letters in Tamil to his wife. Most of the happenings in the area formed a part of the letters,” he said.
The event is the first of the special sessions by Story Corner at Bookmine, a start up by journalist, social activist and storyteller Sudha Umashanker. Sudha, who ran a children’s library here in the 90s till the Internet boom upstaged reading, decided to convert it into a storytelling space.
“This road has changed beyond recognition. I have seen this change happening, but there is so much I didn’t know. There is an interesting history about the MCC School, and then there is Madras Seva Sadan. The Marthoma Syrian Church, the first parish outside Kerala, is here. There were no eateries when I moved in here, but look at how many food joints are dotting the place now,” she said.