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Spirit of the golden oldies

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Madras Heritage Motoring Club spread joy and messages on the road to Puducherry

The youngest in a family grabs all the attention. Some families make an exception. Like this one, which took a trip down the East Coast Road last weekend. While having a spot of relaxation near Marg Swarnabhoomi's project site, close to Mudaliar Kuppam Boat House, this family reverentially let its oldest member — a 1927 Austin Chummy – stand in front and hog the limelight.

We are talking about a family of vehicles whose specialness lies in defying time.

An overhead Marg banner said, “We laud the spirit of the golden oldies.” Laudatory efforts by their owners had brought these vehicles so far.

They would go even farther; their old engines would cool off only in Puducherry.

Chennai to Puducherry is an unduly long distance for these oldies.

The fact that the cars, numbering over 30, made the trip and back, with only minor hiccups along the way, underlines the meticulous planning by the Madras Heritage Motoring Club.

While the rally encompassed roles by the tourism wings of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, messages about heritage preservation and a socially-responsive performance by a villapattu troupe, it was not just another staid awareness campaign.

The car owners had a rollicking time. There were quips, cranks, good-humoured barbs and insider jokes. Viji (treasurer, MHMC) said, “Bally (president Balraj Vasudevan) is a picture of concentration. He's driving a big car.” Bally was at the wheel of M.S. Guhan's huge Chevrolet Skyline; and Viji was alluding to the dimensions of Bally's car — a 1926 Austin Chummy. Had it participated, this Chummy would have been the oldest.

Maya Ganesh was a surprise. The biker girl was at ease rolling the wheels of a left-hand-drive Willys jeep, her uncle Selvaraj's. She kept pace with her friend's modern vehicle, overtaking it regularly. The engaging race was disrupted when the Willys stopped for want of fuel. Maya had filled the tank just before Prarthana Drive-Inn Theatre, the starting-point of the rally. With good friends to watch out for her, she was back on the road.

Participants drove their machines resting in the thought that a retrieval team, headed by Mohammed, was just a call away. M.S. Guhan, Bally, Ranjit Pratap, Sumanth, Viji, Lachu and Kylas were among those who played an administrative role and steered the rally to an incident-free completion. As usual, Ranjit brought a fleet of machines to spice up the event. So did Guhan.

The tourism departments played the perfect hosts, entertaining their guests at their best facilities. In Puducherry, they stayed at Anandha Inn.

The vehicles were also given a good place to stay. The shutters of the warehouse at the old port were pulled up for them. The old vehicles cooling off with their hoods up was a pleasing sight.

PRINCE FREDERICK

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