I have known Venkatesh Ramakrishnan practically from the cradle. We were in school from LKG upwards till came 6th standard when I went off to Calcutta and he remained here, studying at Vidya Mandir and elsewhere.
He has since then blossomed into a writer – his books always reflect his passion for history. Gods, Kings and Slaves is on the siege of Madurai and I can say with pride that I read it in manuscript form. Then came Kaviri Maindan which is a sequel to Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan. Venkatesh is a diehard Kalki fan and is one of the brains behind Ponniyin Selvan Varalatru Peravai a body that analyses the history behind the novel. There are besides two other Tamil novels -Kanchiyin Tarakai which is a sequel to Kalki’s Sivakamiyin Sabadam and Tillayil oru kollaikkaran
Anyway, what is all this in aid of you ask. For Madras Week 2014, Venkatesh has come up with a novel idea. He along with a band of volunteers plans to culturally map the Cooum – the historic spots of interest on its banks. That way he plans to bring the river back into focus in our lives. He says there are Padal Petra Sthalams by the river, several of them Chola period temples now under threat of modernisation. Besides there are of course the Company era and later day monuments as well.
But by far the most intriguing was the fact that crocodiles once swam in the Cooum. Venkatesh says the Madras Museum has a stuffed sample and even showed me a photograph! From then to now…
For this project which is nothing but a labour of love, Venkatesh needs volunteers. You will need plenty of enthusiasm and love for this city of ours to work on it. What you will get in return will be plenty of satisfaction and nothing more. In case you are game for it, please do drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Venkatesh can also be contacted on Facebook. You may also want to see Cooum- A Cultural Mapping on FB.
Who knows? Something big may come out of this whole exercise.