I have been living in Chromepet for 35 years. Chromepet of my childhood is significantly different from what it is today. Back then, every stranger would greet me with a smile. Now, my neighbour is a stranger. Then, only one bus operated from Chromepet to Broadway. Chromepet derived its name from Chrome Leathers, which functioned there. It is a concatenation of ‘Chrome’ and ‘Pettai’. Now, the company has been demolished and a hospital built in its place. Traces of Chrome Leathers can however still be found while walking through CLC Works Road, near Chromepet Police Station. In 1949, the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded in Chromepet in an area covering over 20 hectares.
Our former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was a student of this prestigious institute. Residential and commercial development started in the 1960s. The area has witnessed stunning development. The MIT Bridge has been a boon to residents. Dr. Rajendra Prasad (R.P. Road), which leads to Hastinapuram, has become a commercial hub. The problem of poor bus connectivity is a thing of the past. Instead of the lone bus, we now have a fleet of buses going to Broadway and other central parts of Chennai.
I still remember the days, when I would walk for two kilometres from the station to reach my home, having paneer soda and kamercut . It would be a walk along vacant lands, amidst playing children and cattle. If we behaved as children, we’d be allowed to watch films at Vetri Theatre. Old temples and schools in the area have now been renovated. Chrompet now has swanky restaurants and branded shops. Development has however taken its toll on the residents. For pedestrians, walking on R.P. Road is an achievement.
Due to lack proper parking facilities, cars are parked on roads, making them narrow.
I used to hold my father’s hand and walk freely and happily. Now, I hold on to my grandchildren’s hand, fearing for their safety.
(Chandrakala Chandrashekar is a long-time resident of Chromepet)