These vertical gardens are the latest joke that the Greater Chennai Corporation has played on us

Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, as far as The Man from Madras Musings recalls, only one, namely the Pyramids at Giza, survives. Among the six lost are the Hanging Gardens of Babylon of which we have no visual record. Speculation has been rife over the years as to how they would have looked, from where they hung, etc. For that matter, Babylon itself is a lost city. However, all is not lost. Chennai is after all still surviving and until recently it had its own hanging gardens. Our very own version of that ancient wonder comprised the pillars of all our flyovers being festooned with green shrubs growing out of small receptacles. 

That was our Corporation’s way of fighting the poster menace. They had earlier tried to obliterate this problem by giving the pillars a striated finish. That did not work for the poster pasters did not mind the posters being striated as well. They tried tiled surfaces, but the glue worked just as well. There were appeals to the city’s conscience (this pillar is made from your money, would you ruin it?) by way of painted messages. Nothing worked. And then, full blown from Singapore (Chennai’s role model) came this idea – cover the pillars with plants – that way we would be contributing to the greening of the city and also preventing posters from being pasted on the pillars. 

Naysayers such as MMM and their objections were brushed aside. There was an answer for every question. Where was the water for the plants – oh that will come from recycled waste. What about the concrete? Well, it has withstood much worse treatment (which is true) and it is unlikely to suffer from the continuing presence of wet mud. And so, the project went ahead at a cost of a few crores, which incidentally is the lowest denomination in public projects. For a time, all seemed to be well. The plants flourished, neighbouring goats were seen feasting on them, and it must be said the foliage was pleasing to the eye. But then there came a day when it would seem the water supply was turned off at the main. The leaves began to droop and the goats, always smarter than the humans, quickly moved elsewhere, perhaps to the Miyawaki forests that are the Corporation’s next favourite scheme for greening the city. Shortly thereafter, the leaves fell off one by one; perhaps they were missing the goats. With that all we now have left are the black receptacles or planters in which the shrubs once grew. 

There is however one positive outcome – those pillars are finally poster proof. The plant holders cover them completely. But will they last? A close of the Royapettah flyover reveals that many of those holders have been prised out – no doubt they serve as condiment holders or flower vases in nearby houses. As long as someone is using them our money is not wasted.