Society

George Town: The narrow streets with big hearts

Not only have people moved away but a number of the old houses too, in George Town, have made way for commercial establishments, during the last quarter of the past century.   | Photo Credit: HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

George Town is a fine example of excellent town planning, with all its roads intersecting at right angles in a grid pattern.

Its main thoroughfares — NSC Bose Road, Walltax Road, Rajaji Salai and Old Jail Road — connect thickly populated residential localities, streets and bylanes that not only house a number of the city’s historical and heritage buildings, but sepia memories, too. 

Traditional communities, including Arya Vysas and Gujaratis, dominated the area in the 1900s. As it underwent changes, people of other communities too, settled here.

C. Venkatachalam, the 79-year-old proprietor of Ega Theatre, reminisces how his family used to export condiments to New Zealand, Australia and U.K., from George Town.

“Our family came here in 1908. We had our factory on Mint Street and as the harbour was nearby, it was easy to transport our curry powder which was very much sought after by foreigners,” he said. 

Rafiq Sait, MD of Gatsby Collection, said, “Shop owners themselves would open and close the stores. There was skeletal staff and a hand-to-mouth existence. Buyers, sellers and visitors were all an extended family.”

The streets of George Town were narrow but the people there were large hearted, said many of the old-timers. “We established healthy relationships with each other. We ran a furniture business in George Town for 50 years, over three generations,” said P. Gopala Krishna Guptha, a rosewood furniture merchant. 

Not only have people moved away but a number of the old houses too have made way for commercial establishments, during the last quarter of the past century.

However, in spite of all the changes, business goes on as usual here.


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Printable version | Nov 25, 2021 9:09:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chen-society/george-town-the-narrow-streets-with-big-hearts/article6250214.ece

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