Madras Week celebrations, which have been held in August for over six years, are beginning to have an effect. The brainchild of journalist Vincent D’Souza, Madras Week was to celebrate all that is great and glorious in Madras that is Chennai. And ever since Madras Week began, veteran journalist Sashi Nair, has been ensuring that Kodambakkam has been an active participant in the celebrations. He has been consistently organising talks, drawing competitions and story-telling sessions in that area and the venue has always been Hotel Green Park, whose management has been greatly supportive of this effort.
Itwas therefore but natural that a group of people residing in the area have come together to create a group titled Namma Arcot Road, rather on the lines of Namma Mylapore which has been in existence for several years. The latter has it will be remembered been consistently highlighting issues concerning its area of focus, organising events, heritage walks and also along with Mylapore Times, been celebrating the Mylapore Festival each year in January. In short, there is something happening in Mylapore right through the year and not just in August. Namma Arcot Road has a similar agenda.
The idea for Namma Arcot Road came from Binita Sashi and Gargi Advaithi, both residents of the Kodambakkam area. They realised that nothing much by way of events happens in the locality and for pretty much anything cultural they had to brave the traffic and go to Mylapore or Nungambakkam. They then decided to start a movement to bring events to their own doorstep. Sashi, Binita’s husband was all for it and when they approached Vincent, he suggested they call in Namma Arcot Road. With the roping in of a couple of more volunteers- Madhusushan, Rashmi Ramakrishnan and Soundara Rani (of Arcot Road Times), the group was on its way.
On October 2nd, an informal inaugural session was held at Hotel Green Park. The event was compered by well-known story-teller Jeeva Raghunath. Gargi explained the rationale behind the group’s formation. Mrs YG Parthasarathy, the veteran educationalist presided. In her speech she recalled the barren waste that Vadapalani and Kodambakkam were before she set up a branch of her Padma Seshadri school there which catalysed the movement of several families to the neighbourhood. S Muthiah, the chronicler of the city hoped that Namma Arcot Road would begin seriously documenting the history of the area. Film personalities SP Muthuraman, Balu Mahendra and Nasser shared their memories of the studios of the area. The inauguration was preceded by a drawing competition for children who had to sketch their impression of the Kodambakkam-Vadapalani area.
It is to be hoped that Namma Arcot Road will keep its enthusiasm at the same level as was evident at the inauguration and make the area come alive with events and programmes.
This note was written early in October. Since then the group has organised a heritage walk at the Prasad Studios and is also going ahead with a music programme.