Backpacker and I have always been celebrating the Madras Day with gusto . In my 100th post, I wrote a detailed article on the Madras Day and the story behind it. I also featured some of my favourite monuments in the city and wrote in detail about Fort St George. However, this year, there is a slight twist to the tale.Adding to my voice are several voices who will share their stories on Madras as the month rolls by.
I will however kick start this special by a list of 30 things that I like/would like to do in Madras. I had to jog my memory a bit and with some help from folks, here is my list . Please add your wishlist as well. And if you do find people passionate about Madras ask them to tell you their stories. You dont need any scholar out here – just ask your parents , uncles or grandparents to talk and as you listen to them , a new city opens out in front of you .
1. Watch the fishermen play a tug of war as they pull their haul to the shore at the Marina Beach .
2. Put some kadalai. In the evening, head to Elliots and have the thengai, mangai pattani sundal . Shoot some balloons and polish some bajjis.
3. Drive on the beach road early in the morning – start from Royapuram or Ennore and drive all the way up to Besant Nagar or ECR if you like .
4.Shop in the markets or whatever is left today of them instead of your malls and supermarkets at least for a day. Walk around Ranganathan Street in T Nagar or pick up knick knacks in Purasaiwalkam or in Luz market or any local market in your area.
5.If there is one area I would like to explore , it will have to be Triplicane . Walk around the old book stores, get lost in the narrow roads, visit temples, eat in Ratna Cafe, look at the architecture around, gaze at some of the domes , see the remains of the old Nawabi culture around Wallajah and the agraharams in the area.
6.Go to an old temple in the neighbourhood and listen to the ” harikatha” stories . If you have the opportunity, do catch villupaatu if possible.
7.Know anyone in the harbour ? Catch hold of them and visit the Outer arm , where the last mile of the land protrudes into the sea. If that is not possible, ask someone to take you to the place where the Royal Yacht Club was first located. It has been taken over by the Indian Sailing Association .Learn sailing from them and also ask them to show you the wall, which is still a testimony to the bombardment of Madras during the wars. The city was bombed by Emden the German cruiser during World War 1
8. Climb up St Thomas Mount . Drive up if you can
9.Lose yourself in the campus of IIT Madras. You may even find some black bucks if you are lucky.
10. Listen to a kucheri or a classical music concert in the neighbourhood parks
11. A stopover at Kalakshetra if you can for any dance performance
12. Go to Santhome’s Church and visit the basement and the little chapel
13. Walk in Theosophical Society in Adyar over the weekend . You may need permission otherwise
14. Go for a tree walk. There are organisations in the neighbourhood that arranges for them
15. Visit any three temples in the city – mine would be Gangadeshwar temple, Kapaleshwar temple and Parthasarthy temple
16. Eat . Must visit Karpagam mess , Grand sweets and I would have said Woodlands Drive in – Pity, it is not there anymore
17.Walk around the small lanes of Parry’s corner. Look around Burma Bazaar, the Mint street and many other small streets in that area
18.Must go to Armenian Church , the only church left here that tells you something about the Armenian community that lived here centuries ago
19. Spend a day at Fort Museum in Fort St George. Walk over to St Mary’s Church, the oldest church from the British days and ask them to show you the register when Robert Clive got married
20. Take a ride on MRTS or the Hop on Hop off Bus if you havent so far
21.Watch a Rajinikanth or a Dhanush movie in a regular theatre and whistle away .
22.See if you can manage a pass to any of the studios in Kodambakkam or Vadapalani – catch a film shooting ; believe me, its great fun
23. Visit one of the oldest lighthouses in Madras High Court premises .You may not be allowed to photograph though
24.Chepauk – not just for cricket , but see the palace built in Indo Sarcenic style. Do visit the University while you are still in the area.
25. Visit Connemara Library in the Museum premise and read or at least pretend to read. While you are at the museum, try and watch a play and visit the Bronze Gallery . These are must dos.
26.Must visit Broken Bridge for sunset. Catch up on some birding, if you like in the area .
27.Road side sandwiches in front of Alsa Mall. Now, this is something that i havent missed out from my school days
28.Icecream parlours – would have loved to say Jafars and Dasaprakash, but in their absence will settle for Snowfield.
29.Guindy Park and Snake Park – Back to my childhood, but I can lose myself here. If you have the time, plan a visit to Crocodile Park
30.Want to experience a bit of the saree mania ? Go to Panagal Park and bug the shopkeepers to show you every saree of your fancy at Nallis, Kumarans, RMKV ,Chennai silks, Sundari…Window shop till they drop.
31.There is so much to contemporary Madras too -coffee shops to lounge bars, exclusive boutiques to premium malls, Mediterranean to Mexican fare, fusion concerts to international film festivals, art shows to contemporary dance – you will never run out of choices here