Past Forward’s 75th Tour- an Evening in Parry’s. Participants atop Dare House. The harbour at the rear.

The tour happened yesterday and I am still in a state of elation. There was a total of 80 plus people and the Murugappa Group had pulled out all stops by way of hospitality/virundOmbal/mehmAnnavAzi. It was an amazing experience.

Mr MM Murugappan welcoming us. Pic courtesy AS Diwakar

The event began at 4.00 pm sharp with Mr MM Murugappan, Executive Chairman of the Murugappa Group welcoming us to Dare House. I handed over certain documents pertaining to Parry & Co and dating to the 1870s to him. These had been sent to me by Mrs MG Liversidge, great granddaughter of JC Shaw, a Partner in the company. After having made use of them for my book on the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry, I had long felt that the Murugappa Group of which Parry is a constituent, was the best place to preserve them. I am happy that the opportunity now came for that handover.

At the sole surviving obelisk. Pic courtesy AS Diwakar

We then went outside the building to see the obelisk and then the rest of the tour was within the building – the East and West Board Room, the portraits of the past Directors, the Tiffin Room which now doubles up as a museum for many Parry exhibits and finally, the terrace from where there is a magnificent view of the Harbour, the High Court, and beyond. It was a whirlwind two-hour tour of 230 years of history and by a strange coincidence it happened a day after the 230th anniversary of Thomas Parry’s arrival in Madras- he landed on July 14, 1788.

At the terrace of Dare House, pic courtesy AS Diwakar

Then it was time for the Dare House canteen for snacks (delicious pods idli, cheese and spinach samosa and sandwich) and the 75th walk cake. This was cut by Muralikrishna who has probably come on all my walks and the first piece was given to L Ravichandran of Chennai Online, who sponsored my first walk, in 1999. The cake had a joke in it – whoever gave the order for it also wrote on a piece of paper – caption – Past Forward 75. And so it was iced – as “Caption, Past Forward 75!” I thought such occurrences took place only in the advertising world of yore.

The cake with its great ‘caption’ – pic courtesy Dr Uma Ram

All thanks to the Murugappa Group, for graciously consenting to host this event. And greater thanks for the way they have preserved their heritage.

Our forthcoming tour(s)

Chidambaram and Mayuram