‘The days have gotten longer in Chennai; it helps business’: Nalli Kuppusamy Chetti
Nalli Kuppusamy Chetti, owner of Nalli Silks talks about his fondness for this city, his favourite places, and the need for the city to become cleaner
What is that one thing you like about Chennai and its people the most?
What I like in Chennai, which was Madras, is its quality of being brisk always. It is a vibrant city. People are always active, knowledgeable and helpful. The common man’s political interests are on the rise.
How do you rate Chennai’s growth over the past few years in terms of business, cultural advancement, infrastructural development, population, housing?
Regarding business, the days have gotten longer, I mean, people are awake for longer hours into the night and go about shopping or pleasure. It naturally helps business. There was a time when shops closed at 8.30 pm or 9 pm, latest. Now even around 11 pm people move about, vehicles criss-cross major roads. Autos are available on hire. Eateries are open till midnight. There are about four scores of sabhas and cultural organisations. Many people come by their own conveyance these days. Dramas have found a revival. Many sabhas have their own buildings. Real estate is flourishing. Now, very few people go in for single-bedroom flats. Even first-time owners prefer two-bedroom flats. Twenty years ago it was not so. During the last five years the gated community concept has picked up. Investments are made even in the distant suburbs. The growth of the IT sector is the main reason.
During the last eight-nine decades, our growth has been steady. Our core strength is quality supported by customer care. We have expanded our showroom space and the parking lot. Perhaps we have the largest car park on the same premises. Ours is the only shop that stretches from one street to another, thanks to our elders who had the vision, and I am also thankful to the sustaining clientele. Our consumers have always been choosy and we have been happily catering to their needs. We treat all customers alike.
Which is your most favourite place in Chennai that makes you nostalgic, striking a chord about the past? Why? Do you visit the place regularly?
The places I visit often are connected with the Ramakishna Mutt and the Ramakrishna Mision in Chennai, in Mylapore and in T Nagar. I studied in the Ramakrishna Mission High School in T Nagar, which is very close to my shop. I continue my relationship with the institution. All the monks of the Mutt and the Mission in Chennai, Belur and other places shower their blessings on me. I take inspiration when I go to the universal temple in Mylapore.
I was blessed by God to my might when the Universal Temple was coming up on the Mutt premises in Mylapore, as I was then chairman of the Kapaleesawarar temple trust board. I cherish this spiritual connection in my life. I go there regularly as I am also associated with several Ramakrishna Mission institutions.
Do you think that Chennai has evolved as a bustling metropolis or has just grown into a big village, as may outsiders say?
Chennai still retains its hoary tradition, while pickling up ultra modern ways of life. There is patronage for pop music and also for Nama Samkirtans, western music as well as for Carnatic music.
In your view, have the people of Chennai retained the traditions of the past era or have completely abandoned them?
The ways of dressing have not changed thoroughly. People still prefer to wear traditional attires like saris and dhotis during special occassions. This trend is especially catching up with the youth which is promising.
How do you see Chennai evolving in the next 10 years? Do you foresee any problems?
Once there was tram, now in future, metro rail will connect length and breadth of the city, it is expected to ease traffic congestions in the city.
Looking back, it there anything in Chennai that you miss now?
Chennai is not a big village, though some choose to dub it so. That is an unmerited criticism. It has always been a city; even 60 years ago or much earlier people in other parts of the state called Chennai as Pattanam. If people say ‘I am going to Pattanam’ that meant Madras City.
A wish for Chennai City.
I wish Chennai was cleaner, while it is growing bigger. To be healthy is to be big enough.