This coffee table book is a maiden effort to present Coimbatore as an emerging metropolis. The fantastic photographs of the city are easily the best part of the publication.
Taken by Stalin Ramesh and K. Marudhachalam, the pictures capture the essence of the city, old and new. Photographs of the engineering industries and state-of-the-art hospitals speak of how Coimbatore has held its own in the 21st century. There are pictures in it that also tell of things that have remained unchanged for hundreds of years — a lady drawing a centuries-old kolam pattern at her doorstep, a homam in progress, a temple elephant blessing a devotee, village women joyfully dancing the kummi, and so on. Pongal rituals, handloom weaving, stone carving, kaavadi processions — characteristic of the region — are all colourfully chronicled.
The Perur temple that dates back to the Chola period has been captured in stunning visuals, as also museums, gracious old bungalows, clubs, office buildings, and educational institutions that have their origin in the colonial days. Glossy depictions of shopping centres, restaurants, theme parks and other places of entertainment speak of the city’s growing modernity.
In fact, sections of the book deal with the Coimbatore that was and its emergence as a modern city. But, one might have liked to have more to read about the pioneers who had a vision for the city. Or, in the book’s food section, a mention of the Annapoorna’s famous family dosa (there is a small picture of the dosa, but nothing more) would not have been amiss. If it is information one is looking for, the book is a tad disappointing. Of course, those who have compiled the book have made clear that the work is not for the serious historian. It is, rather, a presentation of Coimbatore through its sights, smell, sounds, and people. Still, a little more depth in the narrative parts of the book would have been welcome. That said, a word of praise for the writer, Shobhana Kumar, will be in order. She is lucid, and easy to read. That she has brought out the publication in such a short span as six months is quite an achievement.
The book does provide a visitor to the city a glimpse of what it is all about. And, it does the Coimbatoreans proud.
COIMBATORE: Pub. by Hitech Universal Printers and Publishers, Senthoor Nagar, Mylampatty PO, Coimbatore-641062 and Esscom, Esslingen Coimbatore Association. Rs. 500.