Saturday, July 22, 2006

Madras Skyline

Perusing thro' The Hindu this morning, i was immediately struck with this title in the last page of one of the supplements. "Government buildings are creatively challenged" was the article by Sri A Srivathsan which can be found at

"Government buildings in Chennai look irresponsible and are bereft of architectural merits." was the catch line. It just left me wondering as to whether i could agree more with the writer.

Like expected from the title, the article was focusing on faulty architecture of most mordern government structures of the city skyline. The author was also a bit critical about some of the structures from the Anglical rule, which is where i beg to differ.

The oldest buildings that exist in the city, today, are those which belong to the British Era. This is of course, discounting some of the city temples which defintely are older and need a dedicated post, may be some other time.

The idea to have tower like structures for the Govt General Hospital is acceptable. Only if it is going to gel with the rest of the structures on that road. not otherwise. A tower like structure with glass panes seriously looks dumb.


Here is the central station which is right opposite to this building.


Coming back the author's criticism of the buildings of the british era, as i said earlier, i have to differ from him. I believe some of the buildings that were built during that period were actually good. The Central and Egmore railway stations, the older Royapuram Railway Station, the Fort St George, the Govt Museum Complex, the Madras University Senate House, the presidency college, the police headquarters are all buildings of their period. In fact, the list is defintely longer that what i have listed. And quite a handful of them are well designed and accomodative to renovation without marring the beauty of the super structure. Here are three examples. One is the Presidency College.


a second is the forgotten Victoria Public Hall. This was such a popular Town Hall which is in shatters now. It exists right next to the Central Station. I am sure, none of the readers would have ever spotted.


and the other is the building called Ice House. It was built to store Ice during the british era and was later used for other purposes as well. It claimed its fame and was renovated by the govt recently for Swami Vivekananda had stayed there for a few days. It is now a memorial to Swami Vivekananda.


I can find pictures of all such buildings and put them up one after another adding two lines of whatever i know about each of them. Not right now, probably a second part would be there for this post.

There are some more buidings in the city, about which i am not sure when they were made. Leading this pack is the Chepauk Palace. Sadly, this bulding is hidden inside a host of other buildings built later around it. You dont get the same look of the place one apparently used to get from the marina beach. It is hardly visible from the beach these days.

chepauk palace

The second such structure is the Amir Mahal. Which is the palace where the Nawab of Arcot still lives. This is defintely still maintained as a palace with a central palace and some supplimentary buidings, a mosque and a big courtyard. A guarded decorated entrance and all that still exists. Sadly, i cant get pictures bigger than thumbnails of this place to put up here.

The third such building is what was called the Santhome Palace. This was a palace belonging to the Mysore Maharajas and later went to the britishers and then it is now the Russian Embassy. So, pics are not going to be possible.

Some of Madras' old buildings do look good and are well designed is what i would say. To talk of new buildings well, i have to go back to the aforementioned article and say that Chennaites have to be put up with architectural embrassments. So much so that, somewhere down the line, they would come and say, lets pull down the old buildings and make them suit the mordern day architecture.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Of Lecture and Pain

Recently i had to attend a lecture. It turned out to be as i had expected. It was far from anything useful and more of personal publicity for the speaker.

Now, i wasnt surprised at this lecture, as i was expecting it to be of that kind only. I did go sit there for the sake of things like attendance and also to make sure that i had done my bit of volunteering for the organisers by being a part of the audience.

This is not the first such lecture i had attend, nor was he the only man to give such talks. These are some people who have a unimaginably high necessity for people to surrond them and keep telling them that they are the gods. They cannot live without somebody or the other praising them atleast once an hour. And on such occasions, they go around self-praising (rather boasting) and telling the world, "see i am thee". Unfortunately or otherwise, usually such people thro' all their self propoganda to the masses get themselves to highly authoritative posts and end up being decision makers.

To come up in one's life, one has to either fight them and win, which is going to be not all that easy or buttress them and fall into the group which surronds them and praises them for some favours in personal and public and professional life.

Back to the lecture, the speaker was a very quick witted and vocal man. He is one who can speak his way thro' anywhere. He spoke of all that he has done in the past couple of years and calls it all old work, while all that he did yesterday and the day before are the only new stuff. everything else is old.

Here are some of his statements and my thoughts about them:

"Oh my god, whatever i think works and it turns out to be giving good results. i dont get the time to write and publish them coz i start thinking and doing something else, also, people keep calling me to give lectures."

why should this man be called to give a public lecture?

"This is something i did recently. i cant tell u how i did it because, i need to publish it, and i cant tell u its uses as i need to patent it"

ok fine, we accept ur motives. What is the use to know that you have dont that, without knowing how and why you did it? i dont care, unless u answer how and why?

"If you keep thinking about ur subject it will help u in all ways. If you start doing politics and become secretary to the department and all, science would leave u"

Aren't u an advisor to the executive which rules this country?

Well, there are more such statements and i can go on and on.

What does one really gain out of such lectures?
a. A cup of coffee.
b. If one is fortunate enough, like yours truly, a good hour of sleep in an airconditioned auditorium.
c. Enough material to write a post on blog.
In the greater good, as to how one should earn a name and market one's self.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006



I am to believe from a few sources that blogspot is going to be banned in india.

if this be true, then prolly this is a post which would the one that lets me take a long leave from posting on this site. It is going to be tough sans blogs, but i dont know if there would be much of a choice either.

an article on the hindu about this thing is found here

However, one is able to access and do all kinds of stuff on blogs from inside the insti.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I was Dumb

Last sunday, I had to make an one day trip to National Institute of Technology Trichy to drop my brother at his hostel and help him set up shop, i mean get into hostel and get things arranged in his room and all the blah associated to it. All this is essential because, this particular college has separate hostels for each year students. After every year of study, people have to shift hostels. This system has its own boons and banes. The boons being, the Auto guys earn a lot on the days shifting. They take 40 bucks to shift luggage from one building to the another, which would be typically about 100 meters away. And the other boon being the fact that the college things they can avoid ragging by this practice. Lets not go into the system to hunt for more inexistant boons.

The banes are many. The guys have to shift every year. Thanks to the auto guys, they have to pay thro' their nose to get their stuff from their room to their room. Come what may, they will have to shift from one building to another. The freshie hostels are the closest to the depts and as you grow senior, you will move farther. Hence, by the time you are in fourth year, you will live farthest from the depts. Extending what happens in IITM in terms of attitude, this will only dwindle the already falling attendance percentage. Also, they dont have a room fixed for each guy. You can apparently keep changing your room all thro' your stay in the hostel and all you have to do for that is just get the shifting done and thats all. These guys apparently fight almost every other day over the room allotment issue and keep changing as frequently as they want.

Now to the most important part of the post. While sitting in the hostel, the security guard there, walks up to me and asks if i am from madras. I said yes. Our man goes to ask "There is another NIT(refering to IITM) in madras, do you know it?" I replied in positive. Then he goes on to say "It seems that NIT was started before this one. It is apparently smaller than this campus and it doesnt have so many department either. Getting a seat there is easier it seems. There isnt so much vacant space between two buildings and it is easier to go from one place to another. Students here are better than the students who study there. The same goes with the faculty. They dont have enough greenery in the campus. This is definetely a better place to study."

Wearing my blue Shaastra T shirt, all i could manage to do in response to this was to just nod my head and thankfully my brother had come save me and give me much needed sanity.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Easy way to get ur tooth broken


What you find above is a depiction of the indian bread naan and one of the customary sidedishes one gets it served with, viz., malai koftha.

On tuesday evenings, our mess claims to be serving this naan and malai koftha for dinner, but, what we find served is more aptly christenable as rubber - kalai* koftha. After eating this over two weeks, i have developed some kind of pain in a particular molar tooth.

Mess grub is getting shadier with every passing day.

*kalai is a word used in madras tamil. people who dont know madras tamil contact nearest person who can explain u better. approximate meaning however is being sarcastic.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Nuptial Knot

On a hot sunday morning a few weeks ago, my mom and I had been to the wedding of one of my classmates. (for those of you who think i m old enough to marry already, i am not, because this guy is some two years elder to me, though we were school classmates) And a week back was another reception and rather frequently I have been attending weddings of peers and everytime i go to one, i m bumped with the same question "when are you getting married?"

Thats not all, quite a few of my friends and relatives even at non-wedding meetings ask this to me. Well, to be point blank frank, i m rather bugged with this question.

First of all, i dont think i am old enough to worry about getting married. Secondly, I presently think it is a worry get married. I find it far from anything nice to get married.

I wish to clarify that, i have myself seen very happy couples, but few and far in between. A typical couple of today's age is rather tough to define. Both the man and thw woman are well educated and wish to have a career. They have their own jobs and return home at un-holy hours, only to rush back first thing in the morning. I am told weeks could roll by with the husband and wife not even meeting each other. I am not very happy with this kind of a family set up of today. What was a family half a century ago is something i always feel jealous about. It was probably far more peaceful a life in those days. Your needs were far less and affordable. Today life is getting beyond all that.

Typically, when u get married it has be to that both of you should have a good understanding of each other. Else, one of the two would end up suppressing the other. I am not keen on having a maritial affair of the second kind, be it my suppressing my wife or otherwise.

While discussing some kind of issues related to weddings of friends and some relatives during this sunday morning trip i made a passing mention to my mom that "I am not keen on getting wedded. why to take risks in life?" To my surprise, my mom replied instantly "You can wish off life like that. each one has to marry and have a life on his own. Also, such incidents of misunderstanding are bound to be part of life."

I was taken aback. I have never ever heard my mom speaking like this. There have been debates at home about when i should get married. And it is widely accepted that such a thing will not be happening till i finish my doctorate. Be that as it may, my moms comments were just tooo much for me to digest immediately. I took a while.

While my parents have always been liberal and probably wouldnt mind me finding somebody for myself, during yet another conversation as fresh as two days ago, my mom made a passing mention of how a collegue of hers had mentioned that she would have married her daughter to me if only i were a few years older and my mom apparently retorted that she wasnt gonna do all the intercaste stuff. This isnt all that surprising to me actually.

I had decided long ago that the job of finding me a wife would be done by my parents for i have no intentions and hopes being able to satisfactorily accomplish the task myself, for lack of ideas, and enthu to do it. Its good that the indian society lets you worry of a certain other things that such issues dont actually bother u.

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