February 27, 2011

Triplicane Cricket Stories

Is there someone out there who could compile the 50 fascinating stories of grassroot cricket and cricketers in our city?
If there is one, there is lots of material which could make a good book.
A book like this should have come out now. A time when the 2011 edition of the ICC World Cup has rolled out and will generate much excitement, debate and partying in the days to come.
If there is one neighbourhood which will find a place in most of these cricket stories it has to be Triplicane - one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Madras and the only one to grow around a cricket stadium.
To source these stories you will have to locate the men who must be in their 50s, 60s and 70s who lived on and off the streets that lead to Sri Parthasarathy Temple and all the streets that run between Wallajah
Road, Bells Road and Triplicane High Road.
Triplicane’s immediate neighbour, Mylapore also has had its share of grassroot cricket. After all, only ‘thopes’ and scrub land grew between the two when they used to be prominent villages of this city.
My source of Triplicane stories is sportsperson A V Vidya Sagar. Sagar grew up here, learnt his cricket lessons on the lanes, on Marina’s sands and at Chepauk and almost made it to the A team.
Today, he devotes all his time to table tennis, coaching and creating young champs. In March, he will open his grand TT playing centre in the East Coast Road area of Palavakkam.
His cricket stories tumble out during my occasional visits to the TT hall that can be fully completed if Sagar gets a few more donors or the Sports Development Authority of TN supports him.
The last story I heard was of the times when the great sports journalist and writer Rajan Bala used to head to the Triplicane adda every evening after work and enjoy the debates and the drink.
Yes, there are lots of stories on Tamil Nadu cricket you get to read in a book titled ‘ Mosquitoes and Other Jolly Rovers’ written by V. Ram Narayan. Ram jots his experiences of playing in open spaces like
the one that existed at the junction of Mowbrays Road ( TTK Road) and C. V. Raman Road in Alwarpet.
But some one out there should write on the Triplicane cricket. There is a lot to be told and shared.

February 12, 2011

Let's keep a watch on our roads

We are trying out a civic audit exercise in Adyar. Keeping a watch on the condition of 
some neighbourhood roads / streets.

It is a very small effort, a voluntary one. And we have called it Roads Watch.

We started this when some of us who are interested in civic affairs realised late last year that most of our roads were possibly in the worst state ever.

Chennai Corporation had many reasons to advance and some may have been genuine too - unexpected rains, ongoing civic projects that hindered road laying, expected monsoon and the like.

And then, our local councillors floated proposals for relaying roads. This was a good time to start the audit exercise.

Civic activist Shekar Raghavan who works out of his Besant Nagar apartment is anchoring this project.

His job is to jot down reports that Adyarites file about the state of the roads in their colony or nagar.

We expect people who call him will be honest and factual. Of course, there are Adyarites who call to say that their streets have not been relaid for 5 or 6 years. Do they have a record to show for this? They do not. Obviously, we cannot record such data.

There has been a steady flow of specific information and it is published in the Adyar Times.

At this point, the civic body is engaged in relaying roads/streets. So the audit will be useful when Adyarites follow-up their Road Watch and report the condition in 
2 / 4 / 6 months down the line. Residents whose streets have never been relaid may want to maintain photo records.

This audit is not being undertaken to expose the Chennai Corporation, its officers or its contractors.

The Commissioner has said an independent team checks the quality of the works.

However, citizens have the responsibility to take greater interest in civic projects worth many crores of rupees. The efforts will enable local officers to be sincere and responsible, contract work to be reviewed and grassroot democracy to function well.

If you have ideas or want to get involved in this little effort, share your thoughts or email your reports.

February 06, 2011

Mylapore MLA: Whose rep?

Do you like S. V. Shekher or despise him or simply don't know of him?
Anybody who follows local politics or cinema or theatre will know Shekher. He has been around for a long time and has done many big and small things in his life.
If you are a Mylaporean or Adyarite you should have known him because you (if you had cast your ballot in the last elections) would have seen, heard or read about him some 5 years ago.
Shekher is your MLA. He represents you in the state Assembly.
(In our day and time, most people are simply ignorant or just don't care.)
Shekher won on an AIADMK ticket, bucking the trend when the DMK was sweeping the poll.
But very soon he found himself on sticky ground. He was a small fish in a pond of sharks.
Fed up, he became an 'unattached' MLA till this weekend.
Now, he is joining the Congress (I). On election eve.
Most people thought he would jump on to the DMK bandwagon now since he was seen all the time either with the Mayor (DMK), the Deputy Chief Minister(DMK) or the Chief Minister(DMK).
Shekher told me 'there is at least  freedom of speech' in the Congress.
Indeed. The Congress values this as much as Shekher does. The party and its men are tad too serious, dull and dowdy. With '100 jokes for 100 minutes' that Shekher promises in all his Alwa dramas, he may well rock that party.
When the news of Shekher's shift was posted online, the first set of  feedback did not have nice things to say of him and his decision.
Today, nobody likes a politician. They love 100 jokes though.
Shekher may not have been a model MLA. If you know your metro politics the civil issued well, the local councillors dominate every inch.
Shekher would say metro MLAs have little role to play.
He is partly right.
He stepped out into his constituency. Made sure he was in the right place at the right time and made the right noises. He was seen and heard.
Will this be enough to see him through a new innings?
Comedians, like clowns can make the impossible possible.
Who will have the last laugh?