Back in the sixties and seventies Chennai was a tremendous source of pleasure because the Marina Beach was worth a visit. On the Beach Road it was a delight to take a walk with friends, munch sundal bought in the beach, enjoy the breeze blowing across your face and chat over a cup of coffee. It was crowded then as it is now but one could see a lot of green vegetation around Triplicane and on the Beach Road.
Travelling by bus from T.Nagar (those days one had to go to T.Nagar from Mambalam to catch a bus for the beach) was pleasant because the crowd would be sparse and the sweat of summer and somebody breathing down your neck was not there. One can stroll down Kalaivanar Arangam upto Shanthi theatre. I remember still walking right up to Triplicane with my cousins or friends on G.N.Chetty Road lined with independent bungalows or houses with gorgeous vegetation. Chennaites those days had a penchant for gardening and kept the horticultural shops busy. Water was scarce and yet the monsoon was predictable.
Growth was there but it was not at the expense of environment. On the same G.N.Chetty Road can anybody see vegetation now? Lined with concrete and light absorbing windows, it stuns the eye. It may be fine that the windows of these office/commercial complexes absorb light, prevent noise from getting in and keeps the inside cool. But where is natural greenery? One would find manicured lawns in them with a made-to-order fount but it is all tailormade to please the business eye. That is what it has come down to. Business decides growth and its directions and not priorities.
Venkatnarayana Road, where T.Nagar High School of which I am an alumni is located, had then a huge green bough and its shadow would cover the entire stretch. One could see it from the tip of the road itself. Now only a shadow of it is left.
One cannot pine for the past, Yes. But one cannot look into a very bright future either.