It was a Sunday evening in January last year. We were leading a small group of children on a Mylapore PhotoWalk through the lanes of this neighbourhood.
The event was part of the annual Mylapore Festival supported by Sundaram Finance.
As we wandered down Ponnambala Vadyar Street which is packed with little shops that sell religious needs and flowers and garlands, a blip burst out of the skies and as it careened downwards, it blew into a spiral of expanding smoke.
One of the boys in our group, aimed his camera and kept shooting at the happening. People gathered around him. And then we realised that the space rocket launch at Sriharikota scheduled that evening had failed. And the development had been photographed by a young student in a bylane of Mylapore.
For many years now, our neighbourhood newspapers have been doing a little bit to encourage teenagers to report and write for us.
Our idea is to get them to go out into colonies, get acquainted with the people, the nooks and the institutions, try out their communication skills, jot down facts and come home and file a report.
If the reports are newsy and timely, they are considered for publication in our newspapers.
We also encourage teenagers who like to shoot pictures or illustrate a feature we may do.
This is our annual programme which we have tied into Children's Day. While the selected children can work through 4 weeks, their reports are published in our November issues.
Some children have made the best of this opportunity and used their by-lined reports to gain admission to media schools. Some have produced this file and got jobs after graduation.
The experience of joining a policeman on his late night beat or talking to Navaratri doll hawkers on the mada veedhis or spending time at a Home for elders is certainly exciting for children who love to write real time.
This opportunity is open once again. At the Adyar Times, Mylapore Times and Arcot Road Times. (advertisements in the current issue should provide the info).
Grab it. And make the best of it, my young friends!