Time for us to pat ourselves on the back. Madras that is Chennai turned 375 a couple of years ago. Fort St. George attained that venerable age last year. We don’t know how old Mylapore, Tiruvallikeni and Tiruvottriyur are. We do know that the High Court of Madras turned 150 in 2012, the Madras Chamber of Commerce & Industry is 180 this year and that the Corporation of Madras completed 325 in 2013. Compared to all that, we are small fry, but when we look below our masthead and discover Madras Musings has completed 25 years, we do feel a particular sense of satisfaction and happiness.
This landmark would not have been possible without the support of all you readers. Your encouragement, feedback, contributions by way of stories, ideas and donations is what has kept us buoyed up all these years. At the same time, we thank our principal sponsors, Chennai Heritage – that dedicated band of corporate houses that has seen value in what we are doing and has generously kept us financially solvent. On this occasion, we also look back with happiness on the day when N. Sankar of the Sanmar Group stepped in just as the going appeared to be tough and promised to get us enough sponsors to ensure our continuity.
Where would we be without our dedicated band of writers, photographers, cartoonists, researchers and heritage enthusiasts, all of whom saw Madras Musings as the perfect medium for their thoughts, findings and expression? And what about Pace Systems, now Mot Juste, that does our layouts and maintains our website or for that matter Lokavani Southern Printers who initiated Madras Musings and has printed it since inception? And we cannot forget Broadgate Technical Services, which handles our accounts and mailing lists.
Over the years we have highlighted several issues concerning our city’s heritage, both built and natural. We cannot claim to have made much of an impact on the Government, which continues to remain oblivious of the need to protect these. But we do know that we have influenced thousands of residents of Chennai and made them espouse these causes. How else can we explain the overwhelming number of Facebook groups dedicated to Chennai’s heritage, the number of heritage walks that are happening all the time, and the number of articles that appear in the daily media? Just twenty years back little of this existed. And thanks to our columns, several forgotten personalities of our city have been brought to light and their contributions remembered.
Madras Week is another happening that we can take some credit for. Today, this is a month-long festival with hundreds of events taking place across several parts of the city. The Madras Musings lecture series and the walks Chennai Heritage conducts have been received extremely well and we are certain that they will continue and that Madras Week is here to stay.
It is not as though heritage is the only aspect of our city that we have campaigned for. Over the years we have sought a better city and lamented about hundreds of civic issues – potholes, drains, pavements, water supply, power, traffic, pollution and environment. We do flatter ourselves in thinking that at least some of our pleas have been heard – that has been acknowledged privately – and some action has resulted.
Overall, it has been an extremely satisfying 25 years. On this occasion, we rededicate ourselves to this city that we care for, we are happy to live in and are proud to take our name after. True, our city may have changed its name but we are, after all, proponents of heritage. And as long as the causes we espouse remain, we will be around to fight for them. Yes, sir (and madam), we are in for the long haul.