We are an all-woman team at The Hindu MetroPlus Coimbatore. As we write a round up of events of the year gone by we find it difficult to think beyond the rape of a 23-year-old variously called “India’s daughter”, “Our sister”, “Courageous soul”, “Real fighter”… She earned these sobriquets after a rape, pain and death. The doomsayers were right after all. The world as we knew it, actually ended, not on December 21, but a few days earlier. Our team’s shared experiences say we have been groped, commented upon lewdly and leered at. We have experienced fear, humiliation and degradation and felt unclean, unwanted and undermined. Will 2013 be any different? The cynic in us says, “Not really”, but the optimist says, “Of course it will”. Because of those people, causes and events that have found their way into our pages. Ordinary people have stepped up and made life worth living. From feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, to saving trees and spreading literacy, they give us hope. These are the men and women, who, we strongly believe, are the reason the world still turns. We hope our round up of the ‘good moments’ brings you some cheer. Due to space constraint we could only include a few. But we salute the many others who have made us proud. Happy New Year!
It has been the year of ordinary people achieving the extraordinary. A. Muruganantham made a low-cost machine that manufactured sanitary napkins and bus conductor L. Kanaga Subramani read the Thirukkural out to passengers. Akila Vaidyanathan and Sriram Narayan worked on advocacy and activism for autism and S. Mohammed Ali, founded Natural History Trust and authored eight Tamil wildlife books…
The year also saw young men and women get together to follow their passions. The Kovai Runners for instance, began their days running while The Photography Club of Coimbatore went on photowalks documenting birdlife around wetlands. Coimbatore took to the streets in a big way with the superbikers club Cotton City Throttle who rode Tamil Nadu’s roads each weekend and Jeeva Nantham and team, who drove to China from here. Some people made professions of their passions such as mypromovideos, a group of enthusiastic animators, The Cuckoo Movement for Children that engaged with kids in remote villages, team G18 and SEEDS that endeavoured to make a difference to the lives of people less privileged.
The city witnessed some firsts with The Kingfisher Premium Coimbatore Fashion Week and TEDxYouth@Anaikatti. The former saw top National designers showcase their lines to a fashion-conscious audience and the second, brought together young minds to ideate with entrepreneurs and achievers. Yellow Train organised a day-long festival for children that included story telling sessions, poetry writing, pottery, adventure, cooking and carpentry among other things.The four-day The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest served up both experimental and traditional theatre from across the country, while The Hindu Friday Review November Fest brought internationally reputed artistes such as Bombay Jayshree and the Australian Art Orchestra. Music lovers in the city relived the greats at retrospective evenings organised by the Coimbatore Arts and Theatrical Society on the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel. Choir music was given an impetus too at performances by the Madras Musical Association and Coimbatore Chamber Choral. For the book-minded, there was the Sahitya Akademi’s North-Eastern and Southern Poetry Festival and readings by writer Srividya Sivakumar and functions honouring writers Devadevan and Kanmani Gunasekaran. There were also performances by street-theatre artiste Ammapettai Ganesan and shadow puppeteers Khandi Ramadas and troupe.
There were photography exhibitions, particularly on wildlife, organised by the Environment Conservation Group, Siruthuli, Osai and the Forest Department. Contemplate Art Gallery and Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery (which turned 25 this year) also held monthly exhibitions by contemporary artists and photographers.
Several celebrities visited Coimbatore. Ilaiyaraaja, Kamal Haasan, Rahul Bose, Prabhudheva, Parvati Ommankunattan graced events in the city. Alongside, we also celebrated the weavers, potters, painters of signs and goldsmiths among others.
Food festivals at the many hotels brought gastronomical adventures to the city, while new restaurants and street food stalls widened the choice for foodies. To counter the bingeing, fitness events such as aqua zumba and pilates ran galore. We even featured A. Ashok — a man who runs backwards.
Initiatives by entrepreneurs in the city made a notable change in Coimbatoreans’ lives. The Coimbatore chapter of Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation was inaugurated with an Egyptian film festival. Others championed social causes such as protecting and providing for children with HIV, free breakfasts for underprivileged children at PSG Sarvajana HSS, nurturing thousands of native trees (Nature The Railways) and greening the Vellalore garbage dump.
Much was done to protect the environment too. From rare sightings of red-necked phalarope and the pallas gull at the Singanallur Lake by Salim Ali Naturalist Forum to noting the red-listing of the lion-tailed macaque and involving the public in bird census, the year strengthened several environmental causes.
The year gone by also added pages to the history books of Coimbatore. Besides the various personal accounts recorded in the ‘Memories of Coimbatore’ column, little pockets of history such as the Gass Forest Museum, the St. Marks church in Podanur, The Thaeneeswarar Kovil in Vellalore were documented. Much interest in the city’s history was also generated by lectures on Kongunadu history organised by The Vanavarayar Foundation, a seminar on the Cholas by Rotary Club of Metropolis and introductory lectures on traditional architecture by the Kumaraguru College of Technology. There was even a Gandhi touch with auditor J. Vijayaraghavan’s memories of Gandhi’s thank you note to his father.