February 09, 2013

Adyar river carries our stories too


Does the Adyar river mean anything beyond a streak of murky water that you cross every now and then on your way to work or to visit friends?

To many people the Adyar has been a part of their lives and memories though it means hardly anything to all of us today.

The river is a part of my working life and a little beyond it too.

So when the extension of the Thiru Vi Ka Bridge was formally inaugurated recently, my thoughts went back to times when there wasn't a bridge over this river.

Off and on, I have met up with a small band of men who continue to fish in this river, pursuing their traditional calling. These men live in a colony off Greenways Road, have a base behind MGR Janaki Women's College and sail out in the cattamarans left to dry behind the bushes here.

The catch is always small and in the days to come we may not see the men or their nets by the Adyar.

This is a river that is closely entwined with the social histories of this city.

Like the life and times of the Theosophical Society, whose international headquarters was chosen to be located on its south bank.

Like the life of what is now called the Broken Bridge, a bridge near the seashore that once linked two kuppams, Urur and Srinivasapuram facilitating quick transportation for the fisherfolk.

Film makers of that time chose to shoot their forest and river scenes on the Adyar's banks. Dancer and guru Padma Subrahmanyam has anecdotes to share of her father's shooting schedules by the Adyar. And historian Randor Guy has more - including one that in the old days of film shooting on location, one person was employed to shoo away crows or birds from the shooting spot so that their caws did not disturb on location audio recording.

Seniors of the city will tell you of their experiences in crossing the river by boat.

Today, the first bridge, Elphinstone Bridge stands strong but neglected, now a support for a sewage pipeline.

Could we not have turned this spot into a bird watching park when the Thiru Vi Bridge was opened?

Senior journalist G V Krishnan tells me about The High Line, a section of the former elevated New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line, which runs along the lower west side of Manhattan; a line on which trains carried meat and farm produce and was later abandoned and has been redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway. An idea that was mooted and carried forward by citizens.

Can we be still be motivated by the NY project?

2 comments:

Clement Williams said...

The Adyar & so many water bodies may cease to exist for our children. I wish something can be done. Nice post.

Susan Deborah said...

We definitely can. Why not try?

Joy always,
Susan