July 17, 2011

Wanted: your memories of Woodlands Drive-in

If you used to attend sales meetings here. . if you had dates with your boyfriend here . . if you got your big idea for a movie here . . if your life was intimately linked with the Woodlands Drive-In restaurant on Cathedral Road, we would like to connect with you.
Because three people are hoping to make a documentary on this iconic space of Madras.
When this restaurant had to be closed down because of legal wrangles which the Woodlands group lost, lots of people were emotionally upset. Some even wanted to gather at its gates and express their unhappiness. Some gave vent to their feelings on their blogs.
My friend, Mohan Das Vadakkara, who is a roving cameraperson of this city rushed to that verdant campus even as the kitchen was closing down on the last day of operations to shoot those final moments.
His 30-minute-long footage will hopefully serve as the thread to weave this docu-film. And since the group needs to record the best memories from the most passionate of Drive-In fans, this is a call that is going out to them.
Singer P. B. Srinivas may have been the most seen face at this restaurant. He spent half his day here, a turban on his head, a shawl that fell to the floor and sheaves of papers and booklets on which he scribbled all the time.
Tearing him away from this place was difficult - Srinivas now spends time at the restaurant at Hotel Woodlands.
But there were many others whose lives ebbed and flowed here. Almost all of them were at the Drive-In to feast on its truly Udupi food - sizzling masala dosas, yummy sambar vadas, steaming coffee.
Everybody loved the drive-in and relax concept though many drove in, parked here and remained for hours!
For those who had failed at an interview, for those who were being driven by sales targets, for those who needed to stop and stare, Drive-In offered a warm refuge.
If the parking lot provided anonymity and quiet, the self-service section was noisy, unregulated and crowded at most times.
Drive-In was a landmark. Like the Central Station, Marina Beach, Sri Parthasarathy Koil.
And when it closed, a heritage space was taken away.
In its place stands 'Semmozhi Poonga'. A showcase, in name, of a government that was in power not so long ago.
Lots of people continue to savour the Drive-In days.
If you really have some special incidents to share, do e-mail to - themadrasday@gmail.com

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