There was something special and charming about the once-vibrant Pondy Bazar, says this reader.

On a lazy Saturday, I decided to go to Pondy Bazaar, a long time after the eviction of the pavement shops. The scene that greeted me surprised me. It looked worse than what I had imagined. I was never a fan of the place, yet I grew to like it for its life and variety — all that was gone.

The shops dotting the pavement, those narrow spaces where you had to squeeze your way out, the welcoming colourful flower shops, glittering bangles, earrings and necklaces — sending girls into a tizzy — in almost every colour on earth, the amazing assortment of bindis, vast array of footwear of the latest trends, little keychain shops where you could get your name engraved on a fancy keychain, din of hawkers calling out, customers haggling with them for discounts, quiet bookshops where you can get almost any book for half its rate, stuffed toys… all were gone. Well, not entirely gone, they were relocated to a “better” place, but its charm, for me, is lost.

People would still go to the block where all these shops are set up, but the thrill of retreating into the shade of the canopy and scrutinizing every tiny stuff, lost in the bewildering variety, when you become oblivious, if only for a moment, the crowd behind you… it was gone. That experience is just irreplaceable! The roads look wider, but desolate.

The heart of Chennai, the ideal hangout that we used to proudly show off to the non-Chennaiites, now stands like any other road, much to the relief of many, and to the sorrow of others like me.

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