1940 – The year of Fires

Fires of a world war were raging across the globe, but 1940 was a year of three famous blazes in Madras, which in a way rewrote the history of the town. The New Year started with a fire which gutted the Congress run All India Khadi and Swadeshi exhibition, whose organization had been compared in the…

BUTCHERING A ZOO

Madras had a long tradition of exhibiting animals and boasted of a choicely-kept menagerie from the Nawab times. The zoos were seen later as the symbol of British Empire’s economic power as it built a global empire. The earliest public zoos was established within the Egmore museum premises giving rise to the term ‘uyir college’…

Waiting for a Japanese bomb

For a year every flying fowl in the skies was suspect.  Likewise, every utensil that slipped out of the housewife’s hand had people scuttling for shelter. “What if it was a hot headed Jap pilot discharging his volatile cargo?” was the sheepish response. With dramatic suddenness, lives had been changed when on   Easter Sunday, 75…

Madras and the Stealer of Locks

The world war times were periods of paradox. It was 1942 and the height of world war 2. The British said they would defend Madras at any cost. And the people believed them. But when nearby Colombo , Vizag and Kakinada were bombed mercilessly by the Japanese Fear entrenched itself in the minds of the…