Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pudupet: The Auto Nagar of Chennai

You can buy all parts of a maruti car or Hero Honda bike, assemble them there itself and drive it away at a very low cost. When quizzed, what is special about Pudupet?, this was the answer from K Abdul Manaf, hailing from Alandur. Though seems to be quite exaggerated, one could find it is true on a whistle tour through the streets of Pudupet.

Pudupet, Chennai's exclusive automobile market, which is around hundred years old, is a one-stop destination for A to Z of two wheeler and four wheeler spare parts. Whether it be the parts of a latest imported car or the original spare parts for restoring vintage and classic cars or bikes, Pudupet will be the wisest choice.

Pudupet market comprises of seven streets, such as Adithnar Salai(Harris Road), Venkatachala Naickern Street, Venkatachala Achari Street, Chandrabanu Street, Nagappa Mudali Street, Kancheepuram Pachiappa Mudali Street, South Coovum Road and West Coovum Road.

For automobile crazys, walking through the lanes of Pudupet is a joyous experience. Cars and bikes stripped down to their shell, engine heads open and mechanics peering over them and tinkering away the body shells and shops diplaying both new and second hand body parts, Pudupet is seems to be teeming all the time.

S Dilip, a Plus Two student from Ambattur, don't mind to ride all the way from Ambattur to buy a new horn or change the tail lamb of his `dressed up' Hero Honda bike. "Pudupet is synonymous with two wheeler spare parts in the City,'' Says S Dilip and MF Hameem. "I often visit here to by accessories for my bike and compared to the other parts of the city, it is cheapest here,'' adds Dilip.

Special areas for spare parts of cars, bikes are here in Pudupet. Exclusive areas for horns, wheel cups, head and tail lamps, seat covers and other extra fittings offer customers plenty to choose.

Karthik, who was in search of some spare parts for his old bike since the morming with his friends, was enough lucky to get the right stuff. "It is very difficult to get the spares of bikes that are not available in fresh market and Pudupet market is the only choice for me,'' says Karthik showing the stuffs he procurred after a long search.

The Motor Vehicle Spare Parts Traders Association is instrumental in stremlining the markert. The second hand spares available here are procured from vehicles met with accidents or from dealers who sell these spares by weight and there is no flow of parts from stolen vehicles, says one dealer.

They are at least 50 to 60 percent cheaper compared to other shops in the city, adds another dealer. "Earlier, the market had a stigma, but now we make sure that no parts from stolen vehicles are sold here,'' says D Kandhasami, president of the traders association.

But however, the market seems to be lost his past glory. "Now the business is very dull as many prefer new vehicles instead of repairing their old ones,'' says A Nizam, who is working in a second hand spare parts shop in Venkatachala Naicken street. "But those who are crazy with their old, vintage or classic bikes, definitely will approach us,'' he adds.

What makes the Pudupet market unique is the availability of any parts of any vehicle. Original spare parts of Benz, Morris Minor, Playmouth, Dodge are available in plenty. Accessories for old cars like Standard 10 or Standard Herald, production of which ceased ago, are still available here.

The clientele of spare parts in Pudupet market is not restricted to the city. Customers are even from out side the country. "We had some customers from Malyasia, Singapore and Sri Lanka also,'' says MD Rizwan, who sells four wheeler spare parts at Harris Road.

With exclusive shops for spare parts and mechanics for Royal Enfield bikes and other vintage models, and shops for alteration works of vehicles, the Pudupet is a place that one automobile fanatic don't want to miss.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Express yourselves through graffiti

“Before you love a girl, look into her eyes and you will see the graves of many boys there.” Wondering who is the philosopher? This is one of the many graffiti messages seen in suburban trains in the city.

`Express yourself' seems to be the buzzword of today’s youth, and how they express themselves is what matters. White spaces inside trains, buses, public toilets and even trunks of trees are billboards to express their feelings.

Graffiti, the act (or art?) of posting messages in public places still a common affair in the city. The most common type is scribbling of names and love names. Public telephone booth operators are the worst affected of this practice. “Though not done intentionally, by the time a person finishes a phone call, be may have scratched on the wall using a pen or a key,” says a PCO operator in the city.

Bathroom graffiti, also known as Latrinalia, is a different act altogether tending more towards the obscene than the artistic, including sexual propositions, vulgar insults, toilet humour and even pornography. “It is a rather psychological problem and psychologists pen it down as the expression of sexual dissatisfaction or suppressed feelings,” says Junaid Ahmed, a research scholar from Madras University.

“We are aware of this practice which is now rampant in suburban trains, especially on the Tambaram – beach route,” says S Gopinath, a senior publicity inspector with the Railway department. “Since it is not easy to trace them, no legal actions cannot be taken. The only measure is to periodically erase or paint them,” says Gopinath.

Situational graffiti is distorting a public message to create humour. For example, changing “To Let, Contact...” to Toilet, Contact...”. A shortage of water and the heavy dust that forms a layer over stationary objects provide vehicle graffiti lovers with the canvas they require. Vehicles sporting “Also available in white” or “Wash me” are a common sight.

Among adolescents, challenge graffiti marks the successful completion of a difficult or distant task. The name of an individual or a gang atop the clock tower or a mountain is an exercise in self-assertion.

The most common and long existing type of graffiti, is the caving names or messages on trees. Poster graffiti, political graffiti, online graffiti, drunk shaming... the list goes on and as long as public space exists, so will graffiti,

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A date with Parry's

From iron to plastics, vegetable to fruits, Parry’s Corner is a place for everything. Here, one can find everything from paper and textiles to cosmetics and decorations at affordable prices.

Parry’s Corner is one of the city’s business centres. Often referred to as Parry’s, the place is situated near Chennai Port, at the intersection of North Beach Road and Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose Road.

Named after Thomas Parry, who set up the EID Parry Company in 1787 (The corporate headquarters of EID Parry stands on the corner), the place is also a hub for intra city bus services. Parry’s Corner is an area that is vaguely defined and contains a number of streets. Though there are streets well-known for certain things, the peculiarity of Parry’s Corner is that one can have almost all things from a single street.

Anderson Street is well-known for wedding cards, with many shops exclusively for them. “Wedding card sales is a 365-day affair here,’’ says Govindan, a sales person. “Cards range from 50 paise to even Rs 150,’’ says A Mohamed Ali, manager, Olympic Cards. Books, pens, plastic files... as you go down Anderson Street, the things available keep varying till the end.

If you are walking along NSC Bose Road towards the Flower Bazaar police station, there is a narrow but crowded-street called Badrian Street. The fragrance of jasmine, rose and other flowers fills the air and will not miss your attention. The street is one of the retail flower trade centres in the city. Even though the wholesale market has shifted to Koyambedu, the name Flower Bazaar remains. As the sizeable Malayali population of the city is set to celebrate Onam, Badrian Street was witnessing brisk business on Saturday and Sunday. “This is the only place in the city where flowers are available in retail at affordable prices,’’ says Shylesh and Manikandan, a frequent visitor of the street.

The business in the shops here keep changing with season. Shops that now sell stationery will have a different look during Diwali, Christmas and New Year, selling crackers, Christmas props, diaries and calendars in the respective seasons. Other items will take a backseat,” said a store manager. Shops selling decoration items, flags, plastic flowers and ribbons, Bunder Street is a colourful lane. The street, again, carries seasonal wares and is very active in the beginning of the year. With pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, notebooks, files and all other paper items, the street is a living sign of how important paper and allied accessories are, even in the digital age.

Parry’s Corner is about 80 acres of commercial business space and the traders are a mix of Tamil, Telegu and Hindi-speaking people. Burma Bazaar, which got its name because Indian refugees and traders from Burma dominated the area once, is an area where one can find all sorts of imported goods, ranging from electronic gadgets to readymades and perfumes.

-Published in The New Indian Express on Monday August 27, 2007

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A book for all, by Kids

How do you start writing? What is the easiest topic to write on? From where do you get ideas? The wannabe writers had plenty of questions to ask when they got a chance to chat with Children’s writers Sreekumar Verma, Anshumani Ruddra and Aysha Rau during the launch and reading of the book For Kids By Kids, a collection of the best entries received in the Scholastic Writing Awards 2008.

Write about anything that interests you, said Shreekumar Verma, well-known author, publisher and entrepreneur.

Think of a story you haven’t read, said Anshumani, a city-based children’s writer. How do you plan a story? Do you plan every aspect of the story in the beginning itself? “The moment I get a point, I start writing. The ideas and the rest come automatically,” replied Anshumani.

“If you plan everything first, it may not work out well. We should have a seed and then proceed,” said Verma.

Do you write to please your readers or yourself? “Of course, myself, as I can’t please everyone,” pointed out Verma. “Write for yourself and see how many like it,” opined Anshumani.

“Don’t read critiques, and ignore critics,” joked Anshumani when quizzed about critics and criticism. “Everybody will have different opinions. Criticism is alright only if they are meaningful.” Sreekumar Verma launched the book at the Citi Centre Landmark recently.

“Last night I started flipping through this book, and ended up reading half of it. I couldn’t find a single mistake in this book. Instead of the title, For Kids, By Kids it should be For All, By Kids,” quipped the author.

“This is a combination of fiction and non-fiction stories written by children of classes IV -IX, is a collection of the best entries we received in the Scholastic Writing Awards. This is the second edition and will be an annual feature,” said Tahsin Chacko, Branch Manager, Tamil Nadu, Scholastic India Pvt Ltd.

At the Scholastic Awards 2007-08, young writers had two options, a short story on a subject of their choice or a non-fiction piece on a Hero for Today’s India. The book contains 10 short stories and eight non-fiction pieces.

The young authors K Shilpa of Vairam Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Pudukottai, Vasudyha Mishra of Padma Seshadri Balabhavan, KK Nagar and Janis Maria Frederick of St Patrick’s School, Pondicherry, also read out excepts from their stories and shared their experiences.

- Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on Wednesday June 25 2008

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