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    September 26th, 2016adminAmazing Feats, Education, Records, All


    Erode :

    He holds a record that is not easy to beat. A lawyer based in Erode,  K K M Kesavan has to his credit, a PhD in Legal Aid, 14 master’s degrees and eight PG diplomas to his credit. And he is 75!

    Now, he is in the second year of a correspondence master’s programme, even as 2017 will mark the golden jubilee of his legal career. Among his degrees are MA in English, Political Science, History, Sociology, Economics, Public Administration, MCom, MSc in Education Management and MBA, besides his degree in lawfrom the universities of Periyar, Annamalai, Bharathiar and Alagappa.

    His success in life was achieved against the odds as his family was neither well off nor highly educated. Born to a small farmer in Arathil village in Kannur district of Kerala (then in the Madras Presidency), his mother died when he was just a year old.

    In 1959, Kesavan came to Erode and joined his uncle Sankar, who owned a small hotel. He got a bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Delhi University through correspondence and then studied BL in Bangalore University.

    Kesavan joined as a junior advocate under V S Venkatrama Ayyar, who later became a High Court judge. He then worked under A P Chinnasamy. Later, he started his own practice.

    “As my seniors mostly handled civil cases, I have attended over 2,500 civil cases so far and won nearly 80 per cent of them,” he recalls.

    Of the 45 juniors who have worked with him, seven became magistrates and munsifs. There are now four juniors working with him.

    Kesavan’s quest for learning started at a young age and continued even after he started working as a lawyer, as per the advice of an uncle, Vasudevan, a school teacher in Erode.

    Practising actively in Erode, Kesavan has held the president’s post of advocate associations several times and is now the joint secretary of the AIADMK lawyers wing.

    His son K S Jeyaganesan is a Central government pleader in the Chennai High Court. His daughter, also based in Chennai, is a Bhartanatyam exponent. She had served as a college lecturer for a while.

    Proper use of time is the secret to his achievement. “All of us get the same 24 hours a day. How we utilise it, is important in coming up in life,” says Kesavan.

    His wife, Savithri, should also get some credit for it. As she took all responsibility for the family, he was able to focus completely on his work and studies. The author of many articles on law, Kesavan’s only pastime is reading.

    On the judiciary front, Kesavan suggests a National Judicial Academy to select judges for high courts. It should also conduct tests for the judges before elevating them to the Supreme Court.

    This method, along the lines of IAS selection, would end the present controversy over the collegium system, which is not transparent.

    source: / The New Indian Express / by Express News Service / September 26th, 2016

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    Chennai :

    A long with over a dozen students from Beta Matriculation School, we board the Chennai Express – TNIE’s double-decker bus (sponsored by NAC Jewellers) near the famous Gandhi statue. The youngsters were eager to learn more about the history of the city, and were surprised when Suresh Sethuraman, convener of INTACH Chennai Chapter joined us.

    Suresh, a numismatic expert and one of the very few with a doctorate in this field, has written over 30 books. Cheerfully greeting the students, he began talking about the heritage buildings along the Rajaji Salai – Wallajah Road stretch.

    Student aboard the Chennai Express  P Jawahar

    Student aboard the Chennai Express  P Jawahar

    “The DGP office to your left was built in 1839, and the Queen Mary’s College in 1914 was the first women’s college in South India…,” were some of the interesting nuggets he announced on the mike. As we cross several other buildings on the stretch, including the Ice House (Vivekanandar Illam), Presidency College and the University of Madras, Suresh quizzes the students. “Why was the ‘Ice House’ called so?” Pat came the reply from a 15-year-old, “The British imported ice from America and stored it here,” and Suresh continued, “Yes, from Boston! And the ice crossed the equator twice and never melted!” he added.

    Across the Napier Bridge, we reach the War Memorial and take a detour via the railway office building and notice a few more heritage buildings like the Curzons. “It was built in the early 20th Century and they are wonderful furniture makers. In fact, they made the furniture for the Madras University library,” shared Suresh.

    After a satisfying tour, we caught up with Suresh for a small chat about being an archaeologist. “Archaeology has always been a rare subject. But now it’s getting rarer,” he explained. “People are not taking to it due to two main reasons — lack of awareness about the subject and the wrong notion that archaeologists have to live in the forest digging and can’t make money. Senior archaeologists are retiring and we don’t have youngsters with technical qualifications to occupy the post. So, we are trying to spread awareness through career counselling sessions.”

    Though foreign governments are giving scholarships to Indian nationals to hone their skills in archaeology, Suresh rued that the number of eligible applicants is few. “This is why engineers and doctors corner the scholarships. We don’t have good archeologists who apply for them!” he said, and added that heritage clubs in schools and colleges could be used to create awareness among the youth. “You can graduate in any discipline and pursue a masters in archaeology,” he said.  The oldest teaching institution for archaeology in India is the University of Madras, while Deccan College, Pune and MS University, Vadodara are colleges that match international standards. “Sadly, we don’t have many Indian students studying the subject in these universities. But, people from abroad come here to study. That’s the sad state,” he sighed.

    Scholars have pointed out that before 1947, Santhome, Kilpauk and Chetpet were sites of archaeological digs. “There’s a lot of scope for excavations in Chennai. The irony is that India is rich in archaeology but poor in archeologists,” he averred.

    Suresh explained about a little-known piece of history — Roman trade in South India. “Romans and Greeks came here 2,000 years ago. They reached Poduke (Arikamedu) and came to Pondicherry. From there they travelled to Melange (Mahabalipuram) and finally reached Mailarfa (Mylapore). They used the ECR route even before we built it!” The Romans took Indian textiles, gems and spices for gold and silver coins and accidental discoveries have shown that their presence was strong in areas like Mambalam and Saidapet. “Excavation is still on in some rural parts like Kodumanal,” he said.

    But the most astonishing fact is that scholars and archaeologists from abroad aren’t aware of the Roman trade in South India. “It’s our fault too. We discover something but we don’t publish it in international journals. Even in books about Romans, the trade is either mentioned in merely a line or there’s no reference at all,” he rued.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Roshne B / August 29th, 2016

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    Kamal Haasan. Photo: Nagara Gopal

    Kamal Haasan. Photo: Nagara Gopal

    The Order is part of France’s premier award, the Legion of Honor.

    Actor Kamal Haasan will be awarded the Chevalier de L’Ordre Arts et Lettres (The Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government. The Order is part of France’s premier award, the Legion of Honor.

    “The distinction, which is yet another laurel for the actor, is in recognition of his high level of artistic excellence and his distinguished career achievements. The award will be conferred on Kamal Haasan at a special ceremony,” read a statement from the actor’s publicist.

    The order of merit is awarded “to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.”

    The Order has three ranks – chevalier (knight), officier (officer), commandeur (commander) – and two high offices.

    Other Indians who have been conferred the Chevalier Order include veteran musician Balamuralikrishna, and actors like Sivaji Ganesan, Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Nandita Das and Shah Rukh Khan.

    The actor released a statement thanking his family and fans for supporting him.

    Our Staff Reporter adds:

    In March 30 this year, the versatile actor, who made his debut as a child artiste in Kalathoor Kannamma in 1959, had received the Henri Langlois Award for his contribution to cinema in France.

    Mr. Haasan, who is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan from the Government of India, has donned several hats and has been actively involved in production, direction, playback singing and song writing in films.

    Chachi 420 (the Hindi version of Avvai Shanmughi), Viswaroopam and Hey Ram are among the movies he has directed.

    He is currently directing and starring in the trilingual film Sabhash Naidu which is being made simultaneously in Tamil, Hindi and Telugu. He was last seen onscreen playing the lead in the movie Thoongavanam.

    Here is his full statement:

    “The French Government has kindly conferred the Chevalier award for Arts and Letters on me. On this occasion, I bow before my more deserving forerunners, Mr. Satyajit Ray and Mr. Sivaji Ganesan, who made even the common man realise the value of the Chevalier award. I thank His Excellency, the Ambassador of France in India, Mr. Alexandre Ziegler, who inimated me of this honour.

    “This award humbles me rather than stiffen me with pride.

    “I realise my journey in my chosen field has not been alone. Teachers and admirers abounded around me. With motherly care they have applauded my every little step forward. The melancholy of my parents not being alive to see this day is allayed by the fact that the elders and the young are still around in my family to enjoy it. I dedicate this award to my admirers and audience, who give me the tenacity of purpose to pursue, to this day and moment, my arts and letters. Thank you.”

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> Cinema / Internet Desk / August 21st, 2016

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    August 20th, 2016adminRecords, All, Sports, World Opinion

    This is the first time that India clinched three medals from this event.

    The Indian players on the podium during the mixed doubles medal ceremony (image courtesy: WSF World Doubles Twitter)

    The Indian players on the podium during the mixed doubles medal ceremony (image courtesy: WSF World Doubles Twitter)

    India finished a historic campaign at the WSF World International Doubles at Marrara, Darwin in Australia on Thursday with three medals for the first time in the history of the championships. The second-seeded mixed doubles pair of Saurav Ghosal and Dipika Pallikal had to settle for silver in the summit clash where they lost to the third seeds Paul Coll and Joelle King of New Zealand, 8-11, 8-11 in 34 minutes.

    Besides that, the second Indian mixed doubles pair of Harinderpal Sandhu and Joshna Chinappa as well as the top-seeded women’s doubles team of Chinappa and Pallikal both captured the bronze after losing their respective semi-finals.

    Pallikal and Ghosal had prevailed over the Kiwi mixed doubles pair in a tight match a day earlier in their final group assignment and were thus considered the favourites. But King and Coll put up a determined show that took the game out of the Indians’ hands.

    By constantly varying their pace and returns, they never allowed the Indians to build a rhythm. The Kiwi pair’s dropshots and their strategy of keeping the ball in the middle paid rich dividends.

    The Indians had more chances in the second game which was neck and neck. But Coll and King applied just the right amount of pressure in the end, to seal the win in straight games.

    The performance of all the Indian players at the World Doubles earned praise from the national coach Cyrus Poncha who called it a ‘fabulous show’.

    “Whichever way one viewed it, this has been a fabulous show overall by the Indians. Returning with three medals is something to be proud of and the players surely need a pat on their backs for this,” said Poncha, who was with the squad in Darwin.

    The Indians will now be turning their attention to the season’s first World Series event – the Hong Kong Open that starts on August 23.

    source: / SportsKeeda / Homepage> Squash> News / by Sudeshna Banerjee @Sudsports / August 18th, 2016

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    The Huan De Temple in Uthandi, the first in India, promotes the philosophy of peace in everyday life

    Just off East Coast Road in Uthandi lies a gleaming, modern structure bearing an unusual name —‘Huan De Temple’.

    ‘Huan De Temple’ literally translates into ‘The Temple of Universal Virtues’ and is a centre for the propagation of a philosophy called Tao.

    Not to be confused with Taoism, Tao is a philosophy that propounds an upright way of life as a means of understanding the Universal Truth,” says Master Mak Siew Fong, a founder-trustee who lives in Malaysia, who is on a visit to the temple. Elders of the Tao order are referred to as Masters or Teachers.

    The philosophy believes that we are all imbued with the basic values of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and trustworthiness.

    These are lost in the course of our daily lives; Tao seeks to bring about a transformation from within to help people connect with their true inner selves. While Tao is popular in China and South East Asia, it has its headquarters in New York, and centres in major cities of the world (there are more than 200 Tao temples worldwide). The Chennai temple is the first in India.

    Chennai’s relationship with Tao goes back to the 6th Century CE, when Pallava king Simhavarman ruled Kanchipuram and its surrounding areas. His third son Bodhidharma is supposed to have been a meditative ascetic, who learnt Tao from a scholar. It is reported that he travelled to China, where he introduced Tao to the Chinese Emperor. This led to the proliferation of the philosophy throughout that country.

    Master Fong explains that the doctrine of Tao comes from the teachings of Maitreya Buddha (or the ‘Laughing Buddha’ as we know him), who was a disciple of Gautama Buddha. “It is based on the premise that our needs are simple but our wants are endless, which leads to negativity in our lives. Tao teaches us that we are here to love one another and be kind. We hold the power to change our life by transforming our behaviour,” he elaborates.

    The Chennai temple was established in April 2015, and holds three prayer services (mainly for world peace) every day. Master Madam Soong Moi Fong, another teacher, says the services are conducted in a serene, solemn atmosphere, where the “body, heart and thoughts have to be clean”.

    The Temple does not actively solicit members or advertise ; most members were passers-by drawn to the temple while driving by.

    The spacious three-storey temple has a central prayer hall, besides lecture halls, a dining room that can host 500 people, meeting rooms, a library, the administrative office and a couple of apartments for visiting teachers. Most of those who work at the temple are volunteers.

    The temple funds some of its expenditure through the sale of fresh, home-made tofu that is made there every day.

    As part of its outreach initiatives, the temple funds a host of charitable projects around ECR.

    Volunteers were active during the floods in Chennai last December, taking part in relief efforts.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> Metroplus> Society / by Shazia Andaleeb / August 19th, 2016

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    Representative Image

    Representative Image

    Coimbatore :

    S R Chandran, who has been part of 3,000 fire service and rescue operations in the last 39 years, was bestowed with the President’s Fire Service Medal for gallantry services during the Independence Day celebrations.

    The Coimbatore division’s fire and rescue district officer was in Vellalore, fighting the raging fire at the dumpyard there, when his friend called to tell him about the medal. Chandran joined the service in 1987 and will turn 58 next year. With just one year left to retire, he said this medal commemorates his service.

    “In this field, we get direct appreciation from people and are given importance in any crisis situation. It gives me great satisfaction to save lives and be appreciated for it. Whenever any disaster strikes, we are the first people to reach the spot,” he said.

    There were many instances when he was the last person to have spoken to the victim before he/she died. “I have gone to the rescue of several burn victims. They talk to us about the situation and what exactly happened. Initially, I felt a bit awkward, listening to their personal stories. But soon I became accustomed to it,” he said. He recalled his third day of service when a man on cycle was run over by a truck. “It was the first time I had seen a dead body but I was not afraid,” he said.

    His most challenging rescue operation was the Karikaranpudur floods in 1993. He had participated in the effort to save 1300 lives. “Located in Dindigul district, the entire village was under water. At that time, we had no mobile phones for communication. I was the first person to cross the river using a rope and one by one I helped the villagers cross it. After a few months, the villagers held a function to felicitate me. That was one of my best moments in service,” he said.

    Having always wanted to get into uniformed service since the age of six, Chandran has won 80 cash awards and 25 good service entries in more than 10 districts he had served.

    Chandran says that officers should be given rigorous training in adventure sports such as scuba diving. “This would come in handy during rescue operations,” he said. Shortage of trained manpower is a huge crisis in animal rescue operations.

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Coimbatore / TNN / August 18th, 2016

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    August 19th, 2016adminRecords, All, Sports


    K Sivakumar, havildhar attached to the Madras Regimental Centre in Wellington, is the first person in Tamil Nadu to have climbed the Mount Everest as part of an army mountaineering expedition this May. He is presently posted at II Madras in Sikkim. On his first visit, after the expedition, to his home town Lovedale near Ooty, K Sivakumar talks to TOI’s Shantha Thiagaragan on his inspiration and challenges faced in climbing Mount Everest.

    What gave you the inspiration to climb Mount Everest?
    I joined the army in 2001. In 2004, I was sent to Mountaineering Training School in Gulmarg, Kashmir, for six months training. I passed out with 80 per cent score in the training. Initially, I drew inspiration from other army personnel in the training. But my motivation was heightened when I got posted at the same training school as my instructor for four years. During those years, I got the chance to climb six peaks in Ladak, Utharanjal and Himalaya while training army students.

    Have you attempted to climb the Everest before?
    Yes. In November 2014, a team of army personnel had planned to scale Mount Everest to celebrate fifty years of climbing the mountain by the army. But unfortunately, the expedition was cancelled midway due to an earth quake on April 25, 2015. The Nepal government had also cancelled permission to access the Everest. During that time 18 people died and around 60 were injured.

    How do you handle the disappointment?
    The experience only gave me more courage and hope. In November 2015, a team of 30 members were sent for training in army camps in New Delhi for two months. Out of the 30 people, two seven-member teams were selected to climb Mount Everest. I was fortunate to have been chosen. We reached Kathmandu on March 30 and on April 5 we started our Everest expedition.

    How did you manage the low oxygen level and rations on your expedition?
    As the oxygen level is very low after 7000 meters, we could not eat but we needed energy. Part of our ration included energy bars and drinks which helped us get through the expedition. The oxygen was part of our mountaineering costume. It took us 25 days to reach Mount Everest and return to Kathmandu.

    How did you feel when you reached the highest peak?
    On May 19, after crossing several army base camps, we reached the very top of the mountain. Words cannot express how I felt when I reached the peak. I just could not believe I had actually climbed the Everest. It took several days for the achievement to sink in. Standing there at the top was the best moment of my life. We stayed there for 20 minutes to take pictures and videos as evidences.

    Did you ever think that one day you would climb Mount Everest?

    I was an athlete when I was in school. However, mountaineering never crossed my mind. Only after joining the army, I developed a passion for mountaineering. If not for the army and support from my family, I could not have achieved this goal.

    How does it feel to return home after scaling the highest mountain?

    It is very refreshing to return home and spend time with family.

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Coimbatore/ by Shantha Thiagarajan / TNN / August 19th, 2016

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    August 17th, 2016adminRecords, All, Science & Technologies


    Vellore :

    Assistant director of Mobile Forensic Science Laboratory, Vellore, K Pari has helped investigating officers solve a recent hit- and-run case with the help of a portion of tyre mark, a few pieces of broken metals and paint flakes of an unidentified vehicle that was involved in the accident.

    Pari’s efforts and expertise won him the award for applying scientific methods in a real life-time situation.

    Director general of police Asok Kumar presented him the award during the state police duty meet in Chennai on August 13.

    Natrampalli inspector Muralidharan, who investigated the hit-and-run case , got the award for best investigation.

    Pari said the accident took place at Athurkuppam on the Chennai-Bengaluru National Highway around 3.30am on April 22.

    The victims were travelling on a bullock cart from their native village Elaraipatti to Natrampalli for a temple festival.

    When the bullock cart was passing through Athurkuppam, it was hit by an unidentified vehicle. Three women died and seven people sustained injuries.

    “It was a rear end collision. Except the tyre mark, flakes of paint and broken materials, there was nothing in the accident spot,” said Pari.

    “Going by the tyre mark, we come to a conclusion that it was a heavy vehicle that hit the bullock cart. The rear right side of the bullock cart was hit by the vehicle. We concluded that the left front side of the heavy vehicle had hit the bullock cart. Since the paint flakes were brown in colour, we focused on brown colour heavy vehicles. We checked CCTV footages at the toll plaza in Vaniyambadi and Krishnagiri,” he said.

    However, no such vehicle had passed the toll plazas for the next couple of hours after the accident. “None of the heavy vehicles passed the toll plazas matched our suspect list. We continued checking the footages,” he said.

    The investigation team zeroed in on one vehicle as it took over 20 hours to cross Krishnagiri toll plaza form Vaniyambadi.

    “Normally, it will take 90 minutes between Krishnagiri and Vaniyambadi toll plazas. Though the video footages showed that the vehicle was intact (no damage was seen), we grew suspicious as the vehicle took over 22 hours to cross the Krishnagiri toll plaza,” he said.

    Investigations helped police nab the man behind the wheels of the vehicle that claimed the three lives.

    The team found that stark difference between the right and left front portion of the vehicle. “While the left side was painted and gives a glassy look, the right side was pale brown. So, it strengthened our doubts. Further investigation revealed that the driver had halted en route to Krishnagiri to repair the damaged portion,” he further said.

    The sample of paint collected from the right side of the vehicle and paint flakes found on the accident spot also matched. The analysis of the samples at the Forensic Lab in Chennai also confirmed it, said Pari, who had been honoured by the police department four times earlier for helping solve cases.

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Chennai / by Shanmugasundaram J / TNN / August 11th, 2016

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    Murasoli is an integral part of the Dravidian movement and its history precedes that of the DMK

    When DMK president M. Karunanidhi launched Murasoli, a handwritten manuscript mouthpiece of the then fledgling Dravidian movement on August 10, 1942, World War-II was still on. The DMK itself was not launched then. Murasoli which has since graduated, first from a hand-written magazine to a weekly and then to a daily is now into its platinum jubilee year.

    Recording the landmark moment, Mr. Karunanidhi. writing in the party organ recently, describedMurasoli as his “first child” and said he cherishes its founding day more than his own birthday.

    The veteran politician had for long used the mouthpiece as a medium to communicate with his party cadre. In fact, during the Emergency when media was subjected to stringent censorship, he subtly conveyed to the cadre about the list of leaders who had been jailed under the draconian Maintenance of Internal Securities Act (MISA). Knowing well that the Press Information Bureau would not allow these leaders to be named, he, instead, published the list of leaders who would not be able to pay respects to party founder C.N. Annadurai on the latter’s death anniversary.

    “The DMK and the Murasoli are inseparable and the contribution of the paper to the growth of the party is immeasurable,” said former Minister Duraimurugan, who has been reading the paper since 1962. Few leaders had the passion of Mr. Karunanidhi when it came to running a party organ, he said.

    “Our leader has the capacity to write what will please all sections of the society. He will proof-read what he had written even at midnight and always ensure that he read the paper in the morning before others read it,” said Mr. Duraimurugan.

    Former School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu, a second-generation leader, said, Murasolihas adapted itself to technology and it is now available online to reach a wider audience.

    “The first issue of Murasoli had four pages and Kalaignar wrote the contents under his pen name ‘Cheran’,” said Dravidian Movement’s historian K. Thirunavukkarasu. “It became a weekly in 1948 and Kalaignar suspended its publication after joining Modern Theaters. He resumed its publication in 1954 and Murasoli became a daily on September 17, 1960,” he added.

    Murasoli has since become the only newspaper of the Dravidian movement to have weathered many a political storm and Mr. Karunanidhi had ensured its existence by forming a trust to run the paper. “He was a hands-on editor and never hesitated to spend his money to run the paper. Murasoli is a guide to the party leaders as well as the cadres,” said Mr. Thirunavukkarasu.

    But the admirers of the Dravidian movement, who pointed out its role in demolishing feudalism and upper caste domination in the society, are sceptical about the role of the Murasoli. “While the Dravidian movement ensured that democracy percolated and reached sections of society that were hitherto impossible to reach, Murasoli has become a weapon in the hands of neo capitalists, particularly the family of the DMK leader,” felt V. Arasu, former head of Tamil department at the University of Madras.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Tamil Nadu / B. Kolappan / Chennai – August 15th, 2016

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    Chennai :

    As the country celebrates 70 years of Independence on Monday, the day marks another glorious chapter in the history of the Indian Railways. One of its legendary trains, the Chennai-Howrah Mail, completes, on this day, 116 years of ceaseless operations.
    Introduced in 1900 between Madras (Chennai) and Calcutta (then the national capital), it continues to serve as a crucial link for millions of travellers. It has, in fact, become a brand with rail enthusiasts recalling the interesting stories woven round it from its glorious days. Through rain and shine, it has transported in its weather-beaten coaches literally everyone -from casual travellers, holidayers and migrant workers.

    Through its more than a century run, the train has a number of firsts, according to members of IRFCA, a forum for railfans.

    After being hauled by steam engines for decades, it became in the 1960s the first passenger train to be hauled by a diesel locomotive. “Initially , it was on diesel traction between Howrah and Bhadrak [in Odisha]. Soon after, the entire run was on diesel traction; that cut more than four hours from the journey time,” says Kamal, an IRFCA member recalling his experiences.It also had the maximum stoppages en route, ensuring that people in the smallest of places had a rail link.

    When the Telugu film industry thrived in Madras, multitudes of its members, especially those hailing from coastal Andhra relied on it. Senior railfan Vijayaraghavan recalls seeing in the 1950s film stars Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Anjali Devi hurrying into the first coach. Over the years, many trains on the Chennai-Howrah route have been withdrawn, but the Mail continues.

    A senior railfan and IRFCA member Vijayaraghavan recalls seeing in the 1950s famous film stars Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Anjali Devi hurrying into the first coach.

    The Mail was also popular among people in northeastern Andhra Pradesh.”It was very convenient because of the timing. It would start from Chennai late at night, and travel throughout Andhra Pradesh for most parts of the day ,” recalls a resident of Lakkam Diddi, a tiny village in Srikakulam district.There are several stories about locals pulling the chain as the train neared their villages and getting off there. “The checks were not stringent then,” he adds.

    This ties in with S Venkatraman’s recounting of how it took a long time to reach its destination. The 93year-old former railway employee and railfan who has written books on the history of trains in the country remembers it as being the only train from Chennai to Howrah for more than 30 years. “It had eight wooden coaches in the olden days.Travelling used to be tough.There were bed bugs… There was no catering, no food at the wayside stations.It took more than 36 hours to reach the destination,” says Venkatraman, speaking of the numerous journeys he made in it.

    In the late 1970s, the railways introduced Coromandel Express on the same route with limited stops to cut down on travelling time between the two cities, forc ing the Mail to play second fiddle. But, the old warhorse has shrugged aside the challenge of its brash, young competitor and soldiers on. It remains THE train on the route for the countless who have travelled by it. Its various features, particularly the evergreen mail van (railway mail service), continuing to embellish their memories.

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Chennai / by T Francis Sundar Singh / TNN / August 15th, 2016

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