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Updated: May 6, 2012 19:28 IST

Pages from the past

PRINCE FREDERICK
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A Snapshot of the
A Snapshot of the "My Madras" page on Facebook

With photos, videos and nuggets of yesteryear, nostalgia is what drives My Madras on Facebook

Recollection of its past — no matter how difficult — almost always adds an extra layer of charm to a place. This partly explains the success of My Madras, a community page on Facebook that collects tidbits of information about the city, when it was known as Madras.

Drawing photos, videos and articles about Madras — and also what constituted the Madras Presidency — from various sources, the community page, with nearly 8,000 followers, provides an opportunity to discuss things that once defined the region.

The good old days

An old advertisement of the soft drink brand ‘Kali Mark' brings a fizz of memories for many visitors to the page. A photo of German light cruiser SMS Emden — which bombarded the Madras harbour during World War I — opens up a discussion about the semantic associations of the battle ship.

An old photo of the flyover at Gemini — probably taken shortly after its completion — has received a flurry of ‘likes' and a range of topics, from details about its construction to real estate realities in Madras.

Agni Sharman, who has created and manages the page, says it is sustained by the enthusiasm of contributors who dig for information and share it. He gives the example of Meenakshisundarm Nataraajn who raids libraries that stock hardly accessible old books and unearths the history of Metrowater. He has shared many interesting facts about this utility service's impact on the city.

Responses to accounts of Madras' glorious moments — such as Chhatrapati Shivaji's visit to a temple in the city in October 1677 — has convinced Agni that people take more pride in their city than generally believed.

In fact, Agni himself is an illustration of the fact. In 2001, he and his brother Vishnumitran brought out the book “Chennai Memory Chips”, which discussed the ‘proper nouns' of the city. Its 2,000 entries traversed a wide spectrum of subjects, from Amrutanjan to Andhra Mahila Sabha and Hamilton Bridge.India Today

In the search for Madras' past, Agni had collected a fascicle of images, and the desire to exhibit these photos motivated him to create the My Madras page in January 2011. “Talking about Madras is plain passion and I have let it remain that way. The page is strongly protected against spamming — by me and by others,” says Agni.

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