Friday, August 28, 2009

Madras Rediscovered in Tamil

Bringing up the finale as it were on the last day of what was a hectic Madras Week was the Madras Book Club, with the launch at the Taj Connemara of the Tamil translation of S Muthiah’s Madras Rediscovered. There were some sterling speeches by Prof. V.C. Kulandaiswamy, chairman, Tamil Virtual University, who launched the book, and Dr V. Irai Anbu, secretary (tourism and culture), Govt of Tamil Nadu.

But the honours must go to Badri Seshadri, publisher, New Horizon Media, for bringing out the 600-page book at an economical price, C.V. Karthik Narayanan for translating the book and, of course, Muthiah himself for having taken the initiative, I’m sure, of making it all happen. With this offering, prospects of the city’s history being read by many more people are bright indeed.

Reminiscing about his entry into the world of writing, printing and publishing as an eight-year-old, Muthiah said it all had to do with his joining a new preparatory school, St Thomas’s, in Ceylon (where he grew up and which is still his first love) where a teacher named W.T. Keble proved to be the greatest influence on his life. Keble got the children to read, and told them the histories of Ceylon and England as interesting stories of countries, unlike what is done in most school classrooms today. Later, when Muthiah wrote Ceylon Beaten Track, he found Keble’s influence on almost every page.

Muthiah arrived in Madras in 1968, to take over T.T. Maps and Publications, a TTK Group company then, and it was while bringing out a booklet with a large map of Madras that he discovered a city and its history, and from then on there was no looking back…

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