23 January, 2021

Nalla Madras!

It’s a British-Tamil creation, only just shedding its marinade

Nalla Madras!

It shows its age after living 375 years and struggles to celebrate its birth on this sandy strip of beach off the Coromandel coast this August. Its bones do creak, its arteries are clogged, it gasps for breath, waiting each afternoon for the sea breeze to cleanse its lungs of pollution. Like all things old, it has bouts of amnesia and has to be reminded that it has survived into this 21st century. Quite consciously, it does not want to be reminded that it is the artificial creation of an alien civilisation and not an ancient city that has existed for a thousand years. It has bouts of self-destruction, encouraged by its carers who, like plastic surgeons, see the potential in removing the cancer of beautiful historical buildings and graceful garden homes to transplanting them with artificial modernity. Yet, despite their efforts to change its physical characteristics—more shiny, more fair, more unaesthetic—it cannot perform that essential brain transplant and make the city forget its past. Names do have a temporary existence. This old city has emerged from the past as...



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