The Madras Week celebrations and the positive vibrations coming off them have inspired a small group of catalysts, who seem to have a common wavelength, to start a whole new initiative in the area beyond Kodambakkam, encompassing Ashok Nagar, KK Nagar, Vadapalani, Virugambakkam and Valsarawakkam. The group comprises teachers, special educators, journalists and young independent women. I have been invited on board as ‘adviser’ and so have an ace storyteller and a veteran editor-publisher.
Another trigger for the group was when the seemingly impossible happened one bright afternoon. A popular resource person two of them had called to conduct a workshop for children apparently had told them that she really had no idea where the Kodambakkam Bridge was! Indeed, she had never really ventured into parts of the city beyond Nungambakkam and thereabouts. And would they kindly guide her driver towards the venue.
Truth can sometimes sound more improbable than fiction. The resource person lost her way after coming past the Vadapalani signal, surfaced from one of the by-lanes, drove past the venue, took a U-turn and headed for Kodambakkam Bridge – only it was from the wrong side. And as the children and parents waited for the ‘star performer’, a couple of sensible women got astride a scooter and headed furiously down the same road in an effort to rein her and the driver in and lasso them back in the proper direction. A good 30 minutes later, the pilot scooter arrived, with a rather bemused resource person and an expressionless driver who was unsure about even driving in through the gates though they were kept wide open in anticipation. Hearing all this, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
How could she ever not know of Kodambakkam Bridge and Vadapalani and AVM Studios and Vijaya Hospital and Ceebros and Mega Mart! The teachers were seething with rage and filled with wonder. And out of that wonderment dawned the desire to do something that would make people wake up and take notice of Arcot Road.
How do the catalysts hope to achieve that? By organising in the area heritage walks, talks by prominent people, music shows, plays… No mean task it was, I told them. If the idea has to bear fruit, responsibilities have to be borne, shared, and plans executed without fail. The group, though, is up to it. They’ve already had a few meetings, contacted the GM of a well-known hotel in the area and sought permission to use space there for an event a month. They are exploring other possibilities, other venues as well.
Let me not cough out all that I know. But surely, if these enterprising young women and men continue in the same vein, there might be a whiff of fresh air blowing down Arcot Road sooner than later.