Mr S. Muthiah (left) receives the first copy of the book Historic Residences of Chennai from S. Vijayaraghavan. Author V. Sriram is at right.
Audience in the Ball Room of the Taj Connemara Hotel gathered to witness the release of the book Historic Residences of ChennaiJoe & KumKum attended a Madras Reading Club event when a book by V. Sriram titled Historic Residences of Chennai was released on the occasion of the 369th anniversary of Madras. It has been called the First City of Modern India, established by a grant of land from two local Nayaks (leaders) to Andrew Cogan and John Day of the John Company on August 22, 1639. Thus it antedates both Bombay (1661) and Calcutta (1690).
Copies of Sriram's handsome book printed on art paper with full-page pencil sketches of 50 dwellings (by a young artist, V. Vijayakumar) were given free to all the attendees - about 400 people attended at the Ball Room of the Taj Connemara Hotel. The publication was underwritten by the business group, Sanmar. Every residence is described on the page facing the sketch with a historical account in English and Tamil. Mr Sriram, the author, is an entrepreneur in software and hydraulics, but his intense interest in music and preservation of tradition has inspired him to write three books about exponents of Carnatic music. And now this volume on heritage.
Mr S. Muthiah, a well-known figure in the heritage and preservation of Chennai, and self-styled 'Chronicler of Madras', received the first copy. He writes in the preface to the Seventh Edition of his book, Madras Rediscovered, that "there are heartening signs that heritage and history are being paid attention to." His book of 450 odd pages has been touted as the best guidebook to the city, with many black & white photographs and maps.
Joe & KumKum met the Ms Jayanthi of the Madras Book Club, who reaffirmed her invitation to the Kochi Reading Group to attend their functions, free of charge. Incidentally, they charge Rs 600 per year from their members. Before the event the Book Club served coffee/tea, gulab jamuns, etc. in the regal surroundings of the Ball Room of the Connemara Hotel.
A couple of photos are shown above, and here is an account of the event as it appeared in The Hindu of Aug 18, 2008: