OTHERS

From sleepy suburb to happening hub

ANNA NAGAR, 1990.

Every Sunday, many families in the sleepy little suburb, would step out of home. A boring routine. For it was just the Anna Nagar tower every time. The beach was too far and movie tickets during the week-end were hard to get.

So it was the Visveswaraya Tower Park, notorious for suicides, a popular sanctuary for love-birds and `wild' life, with dirty lawns, non-functional fountains and non-existent maintenance.

All said, a community meeting place, with the sky above and the earth below. For the elite, there was the Anna Nagar club nearby where sport-lovers used to snatch a round of tennis, badminton, table-tennis or just play cards.

There was the Yeses Supermarket, a `Stop and Shop' changed Vitan, Trinity and Witco that catered to all immediate shopping needs.

Fast forward.

Anna Nagar, 2000.

Space-ships. Simulated radar. Time zones. Totally `spaced out'. At a `Planet Yumm', enough to keep the kids in the neighbourhood busy all through the summer vacation. Next door, a `Nilgiris' supermarket, with a built-in pharmacy, cake-shop, delicatessen, play centre, snack joint and a beauty parlour. A `Marrybrown' restaurant with a McDonalds feel, pool parlours unlimited, pizza joints, Internet zones, half-a-dozen supermarkets and entertainment centres, Anna Nagar is a whole new world minus a few trees.

The neighbourhood newspaper asks residents to abstain from shopping for a month at a particular complex because trees were allegedly felled for the construction. But many seem to welcome the concretisation of the jungle. Ask Brenda and Paulson who have been dropping in almost every other day at `Planet Yumm'. ``Please write that it is the best thing to happen to Chennai,'' the children insist.

`Planet Yumm', the food mall promoted by Mr. M. Mahadevan, hotelier (Wang's Kitchen, La Picasso, Copper Chimney, Hot Breads) has six different restaurants under one roof. Sitting at one place, you can get a pizza from Dominos, dosa from Sangeethas, the curries from Cafe Spice, sandwiches from Hot Breads, noodles from Wangs Kitchen, chat from Gayathri and ice- creams from Milky Way, all at one table.

``It's like co-operative farming. Every restaurant pools in to share the common expenses every month,'' says Mr. Mahadevan. So it is not just a coming together of hotels, but also of people, and importantly, children from all over the neighbourhood. A modern day community meeting place.

Anna Nagar Tower, that once used to be conspicuous by its presence, is today curtained by a concrete jungle, the numerous shopping plazas that have sprung up, speciality stores such as `ConneXions', `Infiniti' `Health and Glow' and `Hi-style' that stares at 2nd Avenue from both sides, with the sweet shops- Parvathy Bhavan, Ganga Sweets and Ananda Bhavan, all existing side-by-side.

Today, Anna Nagar is one big family with one big heart to keep everybody happy. One big wallet. And one big appetite for entertainment.

By Sudhish Kamath