Saturday, April 12, 2008

Back in Chennai

Finally back to Chennai after a slightly longer trip to US, but this got me a good opportunity to spend a week in Columbus, Ohio and connect with our friends there.. More on that in a separate post..

As I drove back home in the wee hours of today, I was surprised to see few visible changes. Here are some changes I observed this morning..

Kathipara flyover is open... just one segment though. I didn't think they were ready to open anything anytime soon, so was surprised to see that one section was open to traffic. Just to be clear, it might still take several months / years for all sections to be ready for traffic. But, even this notional opening would surely help relieve help ease of some traffic pressure at this crucial southern entry point in to the city.

Ugly Billboards are gone... Another thing I noticed was the Billboards or more precisely lack of them. Billboards have sprung in every possible place in Chennai marring the beauty of the city and Government after trying various approaches came down heavily on the billboards and took them down in the past few days.. For once, this highhandedness is welcome... I only hope the billboard lobby doesn't pay its way through and start mushrooming again in few weeks / months.

Billboards aglore in Chennai (taken in 2006)
This picture was taken in 2006 and since then it has gotten only worse..



(photo courtesy: The Hindu)

One Way.. Gone Baby Gone.. As quickly as it came, it disappeared just as fast. City officials had made several roads around my neighhourhood oneway with little or no warning, putting lot of people in to misery and throwing any semblance of traffic regulation for a toss. For us, CP Ramaswamy road became a nightmare at any time of the day and it became increasingly difficult to even walk across the road let alone walk any stretch of it. But this morning, I found all the barricades gone and the cab driver told me that all restrictions have been withdrawn due to public hue and cry. I this bound to make the citizens of சிங்கார சென்னை happy and allow them to gleefully go back to their old ways uncontrolled parking, driving and encroachment.

Drive-in Woodlands may be history.. Drive-in woodlands is a landmark in the heart of Chennai across of US consulate. It has been around longer than I remember and is regular fixture for thousands of chennaites including my family. To my surprise, I read in papers today that it is being shutdown due to some complex Government maneuvers and long litigation. I am sure there is some politics behind it but I have always wondered why such a large tract of prime property is vacant in the heart of the city and now I know that it belongs to Tamil Nadu Government agriculture department. I am not sure about the plans of the Government, but I would like to see that converted in to a park akin to Central Park of New York City, though much smaller in size.

Quite a significant changes in two weeks..This reminded me of the powerful speceh I heard in Orlando. One of our senior executives opined.. "If nothing changes then nothing changes'... Right.. if nothing changes then nothing changes even the one we would like changed..