hitting the streets Downtown

Interplay between certainty and change

Todd Hunter Nagar is a locality carved out for people in government service. Photo: M. Srinath   | Photo Credit: M_SRINATH

Lined with gable-and-tile-roofed buildings that are liberally spaced, Todd Hunter Nagar Road seems, at first sight, to have been spared Time’s ruthless scythe. However, as the road winds on, realisation dawns that the hooded figure has trodden through this stretch, but refrained from wielding his weapon as brutally as in most other roads branching off Anna Salai.

That is because, as a locality carved out for people in government service, Todd Hunter Nagar in Saidapet has an in-built protection against change. It consists of PWD quarters and TNHB apartment blocks. Noticeable changes in recent times pertain to the former. A stilt-plus-nine-floor PWD building constructed for engineers lends contrast to the locality which derives much of its character from yellow-coloured independent houses redolent of colonial architecture.

"In recent years, a great number of independent PWD houses have been torn down to make way for more modern buildings. Construction of the new structures is under way. These independent units were demolished because they were considered too old. Considering a lot had been spent on the renovation of these buildings, this is sad," says G. Rajendran, secretary, Todd Hunter Nagar PWD Quarters Government Officials Welfare Association.

Developments immediately outside Todd Hunter Nagar also contribute to the growing change in character.

The worksite of the upcoming Metro station at Saidapet adjoining Todd Hunter Nagar Road has made the area look busier than usual, says 68-year-old S. Subramanian, who runs a tailoring unit in the area for the last 43 years, operating from a shop he picked up for rent in a government auction.

Subramanian’s unit is among a sprinkling of shops in what appears to be the central part of the colony. Another shopkeeper, 39-year-old T.K. Rajesh says a couple of slums that have cropped up immediately outside the area take away from its charm.

The blustery winds of change have blown away a few advantages the colony enjoyed. Before the bus terminus moved to Koyamebedu, mofussil buses heading towards towns, villages and cities in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu would stop first right outside Todd Hunter Road after leaving Parry’s, Subramanian recalls.

The colony however cannot be divested of certain advantages, which includes its location. Abutting the Cosmopolitan Golf Course, it is close to Nandanam. Adyar, Kotturpuram, Guindy and T. Nagar are not far away. And then, a raft of buses plying to the southern suburbs pull into the bus bay at Saidapet that is a just short walk away. And when the Metro goes operational, its stock will go up considerably.

Says Rajendran, "Things can get better. There are certain changes we want. One of them is that open drains should go. At present, there is one behind every independent house. Their presence makes us forget that we live in the central part of the city."

(A column about the lanes and bylanes that lie hidden behind arterial stretches, but are nevertheless interesting in their own ways.)

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 4:42:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/interplay-between-certainty-and-change/article5431346.ece

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