The article “Caged in a matchbox apartment, I pine for the pyol” (Open Page, Dec. 4) was interesting. Our house in Perambur, Chennai, had a thinnai facing the road on the west. It was, therefore, cool in the mornings. It was the most sought after place in the house, and started getting busy from 6 a.m. when The Hindu arrived. The sports page was in great demand among my brother's children and me. My brother read the newspaper till 8 a.m. My father, retired from the Railways, would unfold his easy chair and read the paper from the first to the last page, marking all important news items. This would go on till the sun reached overhead at 11 a.m.
After sunset, the thinnai was the meeting point of our school/college friends. It was also the place where my mother and her friends in the neighbourhood bargained with vegetable vendors and others. There was no television. The Vividh Bharati filled the air with music. The thinnai was also the venue for discussion whenever relatives visited us. We miss the thinnai. Memories come flooding when we pass through the area which is now a big, modern residence.
A typical, traditional Tamil house had a street veranda called tazhvaram and a raised platform with wooden columns and masonry benches for visitors, called thinnai. The thinnai linked the outside world to the home. When people were forced to migrate to cities for employment or studies, life changed a lot. They had to adjust to lives in nano-sized apartments.
‘Modern living' has become a tough call for many as apartments lack the openness of a traditional house.
Although the thinnai was awesome — it existed till about 50 years ago — it was also an unproductive place where people wasted time and spread rumours. I lived in a house with a thinnai for more than 25 years. I recall the thrilling and entertaining carrom tournaments we conducted on it. It was also transformed into a battleground when tempers ran high.