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    In-house canteens are an integral part of the campus. Photo: M. Karunakaran / The Hindu

    In-house canteens are an integral part of the campus. Photo: M. Karunakaran / The Hindu

    From idli-vadai-pongal to vempampoo rasam and filter coffee, Chennai’s canteens have it all

    Legend has it that the strike in Binny Mills in 1921 started over food. Led by V. Kalyanasundaram, it lasted six months, but was suppressed when the management tactically split workers into two groups, using canteen hierarchy. But the struggle didn’t go waste: It spawned the first workers’ union and the employee canteen got established on firm ground.

    Today, every departmental canteen in Chennai has history added to its menu. “The 250-year-old College of Engineering, Guindy, gave south Indian industry its basic structure, which included the workers’ canteen,” says painter Srinivasan N., analysing the canteen concept. “In manpower-rich manufacturing, subsidised food is seen as a way to keep workers happy. Whether autonomous (IIT, DD, Anna University, Chennai Port Trust), Government-controlled (Ordnance Factory, Ripon building, ONGC, Southern Railway) or private (TAFE, Hyundai, Leyland), in-house canteens are an integral part of the campus. Now, brain-powered IT industries have switched to food courts,” he remarks.

    Whether brick and mortar or chrome and steel, canteens here are a no-frills service. You check the prices of the standardized menu on the blackboard, buy coupons and accordingly collect food at the counter. Hot, soft idlis, crispy vadas, and thin dosais along with ‘meals’ are a staple.

    Have you been to any of these?


    The canteen opened on December 1, 1974 and shifted to the separate tower block in 1984. The shift at AIR starts at 6 a.m. and at 8 the staff is assembled in the canteen. Newsreaders are the first to choose from idli, puri, dosa or pongal and get their fill of tea or coffee. You can come back for bajji, vadai and bonda till noon, and after that you can go for a lunch thali that consists of rice, sambar, rasam, two vegetables, buttermilk, pickle and appalam for Rs 20. Peckish at 4 p.m.? Try out the kara sevai, butter murukku and the bajji.

    While the pathway and the hall need sprucing up, nothing can dim the thrill of being in a place where Chennai’s luminaries broke bondas. “L.K. Advani came here in the 80s and had special coffee,” says Dr. Selva Peter, Deputy Director/Hony. Secretary of the canteen, listing out the celebrity visitors: Kannadasan, T.M. Soundararajan, P.B. Srinivas, L.R. Easwari, Sivaji Ganesan, Ilayaraja, Vairamuthu among others.

    During the two years of the Isai Saaral programme, all popular Carnatic and Hindustani singers were treated to snacks, Selva Peter says.

    Although the canteen staff number has dwindled, the cooks still serve “guests” from the Police Commissionerate nearby, Bank of India, Santhome branch and the Crime Records Bureau. At the All-India staff training workshop, out-of-state participants wanted to know which hotel the food was from. Not surprisingly, Sankaran, head cook since 1974, was quickly re-appointed when he retired.


    I join Dr. Balaramani, Asst. Director/Hony. Canteen Secretary for a special thali lunch that included bright orange jalebis and sweet mango pieces. “We make sure our guests visit the canteen and we ask them to try a meal. It costs no more than Rs. 44 (lunch is Rs. 25),” he says. Post-recording, artistes, accompanists and theatre assistants head straight to the canteen. “Only the fussiest stars leave without tasting the day’s fare,” he says.

    Starting small in 1975, the canteen went departmental in 1980. “Our canteen is exclusively for the 500 plus staff, resource persons, AIR FM transmitter engineers on the premises, home guards and the TN Women Police on guard duty,” Balaramani says. The canteen specialises in dosai varieties, on Tuesdays you get idli-vadai-pongal-upma, Thursdays are for puri-masala and keerai vadai. At 1 p.m. you can choose from the lunch thali and variety rice, at 3 p.m. it is bajji, dosai, tea/coffee and kesari.

    The Doordarshan dining hall too has been graced by a galaxy of cinema and theatre artistes. Helpers have served actors Vivek and Nasser, Vairamuthu, Kutti Padmini, Kathadi Ramamurthy, Delhi Ganesh, R.S. Manohar, Nagesh and G.V. Prakash. The canteen is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., five days a week, but was open for 18 hours on election counting day.

    “This canteen is more than a mother to us,” says Sethu Madavan, who joined in 1986. “Today, a canteen employee’s children are engineers. We enter the hall with a prayer that the day’s work should go smoothly,” he says.

    AGS Office

    Annapurani of AGS office, they call their canteen of more than 50 years, in a nod to their women-dominated workforce. Homely food goes to all the offices in the complex, and if you are here, you can’t leave without sipping their coffee. Even though the canteen went from co-operative to departmental, conventional to steam cooking, plantain leaves to plates, the aroma of coffee is a constant, say officials. While vadais are permanent, major breakfast foods are on a weekly rotational basis. Lunch is served in a thali, but if you fancy tiffin, that is available too. One item you don’t want to miss is the rasam say insiders. Also, plan your visit — Monday for pongal and Friday for the famed rice upma-vathakozhambu combo.

    Close to 400 officials pile in for breakfast and lunch. For the single, married-with-kids and long-distance commuters, the canteen is a boon – the food is good and the rates are low. Curd rice is rated high, as is the neer-moru. You can also pick from chappathi or mixed rice varieties. Food combos have add-ons like sweets and coffee.

    A meal costs Rs. 15, coffee is Rs. 5 per cup. The canteen maintains quality by buying provisions from its co-operative store in the complex. Cleanliness is religion — steam cookers hiss, mechanical scrubbers clean up plates, a machine kneads dough, huge exhausts keep the spot smoke-free and an RO plant provides water.

    If the sitting area gleams, the counter looks like it’s from a popular fast-food joint. Everything smells class, and most AGs are patrons.

    The canteen prepares and supplies snacks for office functions, higher officials’ visits and farewell treats to save on office budgets. During Deepavali, the kitchen prepares 1.5 MT of mixture and nearly one MT of sweets, so make sure you order the special mixture and boondhi laddu. “The office canteen is an extension of our kitchen,” say employees. For me, its best feature is its proximity to the parking area.

    Anna University


    As students, parents and guardians gather anxiously at Anna University grounds during admission season, the one place that keeps them smiling all day is the “main” canteen. The food is cheap – Rs. 16 for a full thali and Rs. 4 for coffee, apart from the sweets and ice-cream which are on offer all year round.

    While the campus is 250 years old, the canteen has its own history. Generations of students have succumbed to its gastronomical charms.

    “My mentor Ravi and I would bunk classes, sit under the aalamaram opposite the CEG canteen and order bread omelette. Whenever I was asked which branch of engineering I was in, I’d say canteen branch,” said Crazy Mohan. Bread omelette was his son’s favourite too, at AU.

    “People from the Cancer Institute and Science City take parcels of the healthy, non-spicy food,” said Registrar Dr. Ganesh, reminding me that the canteen bans soft drinks and preservatives. “The pav bhaji is very good here, have it with fresh fruit juice,” recommends Srinivasan.

    “Prices are affordable, and the food is prepared with clean, modern kitchen equipment. An RO plant and a bio-waste-disposal system are part of this century-old canteen.”

    The herbal food canteen at Chennai Corporation Campus. Photo : A. Muralitharan / The Hindu

    The herbal food canteen at Chennai Corporation Campus. Photo : A. Muralitharan / The Hindu

    Ripon Building

    The canteen menu of South Indian delicacies at the Ripon Building were upgraded with a herbal touch in 2012. To ward off seasonal sniffles, it serves nilambu kashayam and sukku coffee; its vepampoo(neem) rasam is guaranteed to cure stomach trouble, thoothuvalai soup should help you breathe easy in cold weather.

    In an effort to promote millets, the canteen serves varagu, saamai, thinai and kuthiraivali rice varieties. These can be washed down with herbal tea, herbal soups, juices and ginger buttermilk. The kollu (horsegram) rasam helps reduce weight, so eat away at this historic canteen.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Featurer> MetroPlus / Geeta Padmanabhan / Chennai – July 17th, 2014

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    Santha Sheela Nair, retired IAS officer and vice president of Tamil Nadu Planning Commission, lighting the first lamp at the Chozeeshwarar temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram on Friday | express

    Santha Sheela Nair, retired IAS officer and vice president of Tamil Nadu Planning Commission, lighting the first lamp at the Chozeeshwarar temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram on Friday | express

    Jayankondam :

    People of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and its surrounding villages took pride in celebrating the crowning millennium year of King Rajendra Chola.

    Thousands of people, including women and children, thronged the Chozeeshwarar Temple on Friday evening and a huge rally started from Maaligai Medu, the village where remains of the king’s palace were excavated.

    Three elephants walked in front of the rally in memory of the king whose skills on the battle field was well known. The elephants were followed by folk artistes, who caught the eye of people as the rally passed by. Slogans praising the king were raised all along the rally.

    Writers Balakumaran, Kulothungan and Kudavayil Balasubramaniyan, who wrote books on the king and the temple, Santha Sheela Nair, vice-president of Tamil Nadu Planning Commission, P Senthil Kumar, commissioner of disciplinary proceedings, Nagercoil, K Dhanavel, IAS officer (retd) and Porko, former vice-chancellor of Madras University were taken on a chariot-like vehicle.

    The writers were later honoured for their contributions to Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

    Meanwhile, in Thanjavur, a torch relay commenced at Thanjavur Big Temple. The rally was flagged off by Collector Dr N Subbaiyan, in the presence of writer Balakumaran, who lit the torch. The torch was escorted through Thanjavur city by 1,000 volunteers on motorcycles.

    From Palliagraharam, around 100 volunteers on bikes escorted 20 torch bearers, who took turns in taking the torch to Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

    The torch was used to light up 1,000 lamps around the temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram. The Thanjavur chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) made arrangements for the torch rally. The team of torch bearers later joined the rally.

    A huge crowd welcomed the rally when it reached the temple. Around 6.30 pm, Santha Sheela Nair lit the first lamp at the temple,  after which a thousand small lamps were lit by women, marking the millennial year of the king’s coronation.

    Ramu (75) of Thottikulam village, said, “I haven’t seen such a joyful festival before. When I was young I heard a lot about King Rajendra Chola and this temple. Only now am I seeing how the people are celebrating the king. The joy of people here gives me the feeling that the king is alive and in our midst.” Later, a grand symposium was held on the temple and writers and historians spoke about King Rajendra Chola’s achievements in various fields.

    (With inputs from TNIE Thanjavur correspondent)

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by  K. Ezhilarasan – ENS / July 26th, 2014

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    Jayankondam  :

    Late King Rajendra Chola was on Saturday remembered not just for his skills in battlefield but also for tackling drought.

    “The lakes, especially those built by Rajendra Chola 1,000 years ago still help us in tackling water problems,” said Porko, former vice-chancellor of Madras University, recalling his contributions at a grand symposium held at Gangaikonda Cholapuram on Friday night marking the millennial year of the crowning of the Chola king.

    Writer Balakumaran said children should be taught the history of Tamil Nadu so that  they will understand the importance of personalities like Rajendra Chola. “Every Tamilian should know the history of the Chola kings. I appreciate the people of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the surrounding villages for organising this celebration,” he said. He also requested the State government to build a memorial for Rajendra Chola at Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

    M Rasendhran, commissioner of agricultural department, praised Rajendra Chola for his skills on the battlefield.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by Express News Service / July 27th, 2014

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    Chennai :

    Fourteen Jain rock beds dating back to the 5th century AD have been excavated inside three caverns on top of a hill in Vellore district.

    The beds were found on the Bhairavamalai in Latheri on the Vellore-Gudiyattam road when Jeeva Kumar, a Jain priest, was on a study tour in search of abandoned and neglected Jain sites in Tamil Nadu. “It was difficult to climb the hill because the rock steps to the caverns were almost lost over the years. Recently, the locals have built a temple near the caverns. They have also built a flight of 1300 steps for the new temple. Unfortunately, there is no passage to these caverns that house the ancient rock beds,” says S Jeeva Kumar, who has excavated a number of Jain sites in various parts of Tamil Nadu.

    The hill is situated in a small village called Kukkara Palli and scholars say the word ‘palli’ has a strong association with Jainism.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / M. T. Saju, TNN / July 21st, 2014

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    Madurai :

    A 13-year-old girl from here has successfully entered into the Limca Book of Records for dribbling two basketballs simultaneously for a distance of six km. The girl, who skated throughout the distance, achieved the record in 29 minutes and 58 seconds. The 13-year-old L S Sivashree is known to make everyone awestruck with her feats as she often engages herself in doing many impossible tasks. She is also a state-level under-14 basket ball player and an athlete who loves to run on long tracks.

    Sivashree did the dribbling for Limca a few months back amidst thundering applause from the crowds on the busy Kamarajar Salai. She, along with her father L S Sundaramoorthy, a sports trainer and her younger sister L S Yogashree were all on cloud nine when they received the copy of the book recently. Although they received an official e-mail with confirmation and the copy of book with her record under ‘Human Story’ category, they are still awaiting the certificate. Like Sivashree, Yogashree too is keen in athletics and basketball.

    A Class 8 student of Meenakshi School at Vandiyur Mariamman Theppakulam where she resides, an enthusiastic Sivashree said, “I want to participate in the Olympic Games and bring laurels to the nation in athletics event. Not only in sports, I’m also good in studies too. I always score more than 80% in all the subjects.”

    “Sivashree in earlier attempts ran for 30 km when was just five years old. When she was six she ran for 10.5 km by dribbling a basketball. In another attempt she dribbled a ball while skating for 19 km when she was seven years. We have presented them to the Guinness records but they have not even considered the little girl,” said Sundaramoorthy.

    “In the next level, I want prove my talent in running and basketball at the national level. I have been undergoing rigorous training to come up at the national level,” Sivashree said.

    Sundaramoorthy said that during his school days he wanted to pursue basketball and table tennis seriously but was rejected citing his height. He then took up kho-kho and athletics to emerge as a state player. From then, he has been coaching his two daughters to groom them into the international level, he said.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / by v. Devanathan, TNN / May 23rd, 2014

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    Jamal Mohamed College Students Cooperative Stores, Tiruchi, being awarded as the Best Student Cooperative Stores / .Photo: Special Arrngement / The Hindu

    Jamal Mohamed College Students Cooperative Stores, Tiruchi, being awarded as the Best Student Cooperative Stores / .Photo: Special Arrngement / The Hindu

    The store managed to achieve a sales turnover of Rs.13 lakh last year and a maximum dividend of 14 per cent has been paid to its members for the last 20 Years.

    Jamal Mohamed College Students Cooperative Store has been adjudged the best store among the 276 student cooperative stores functioning in Tiruchi district for the year 2012-13. It won the award for the second consecutive year.

    The store has been functioning as an outstanding student store ever since it came into being in 1953. All the students of Jamal Mohamed College are enrolled as members of this store. The teaching and non-teaching members have also been admitted as members and they have to pay a share capital of Rs.100. The student store at present accounted for 109 teachers and non-teaching staff as members and over 2,500 students as associates. The store managed to achieve a sales turnover of Rs.13 lakh last year and a maximum dividend of 14 per cent has been paid to its members for the last 20 Years.K. K. Selvaraj, Managing Director, Tiruchi District Cooperative Union, handed over the shield to Khaja Nazeemudeen, Secretary and Correspondent of the College, and Khaleel Ahamed, treasurer, in the presence of Mohamed Salique, Principal, and Syed Ghayas Ahmed, secretary of the cooperative stores.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Tiruchirapalli / by Special Correspondent / Tiruchi – July 20th, 2014

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    Chennai :

    With a rusty trunk in hand and a plethora of instructions in mind, Anna Jacob boarded SS Franconia from Bombay to Liverpool to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. “It was 1947. There were 3,500 passengers on board, and most of them were Britons returning home,” says Jacob, 67 years later.

    The journey lasted three weeks. “There was a badminton court, a swimming pool, a live band. Many of them were upbeat as they all were returning home at last,” says Jacob, her face breaking into a wrinkled smile.

    Jacob, who will turn 100 this month-end, was among the first batch of students who completed the higher grade nursing course from Christian Medical College, Vellore, in 1936. In the city to attend the centenary celebration of Women’s Christian College, where she did an intermediate course in 1946, she recounts her days with Dr Ida Scudder, founder of CMC, and Vera Pitman, her nursing tutor.

    Jacob, fondly called Annamma by her family and friends, surprises people with her sharp memory. “I still remember the day Miss Pitman came to our school in Tiruvalla, Kerala,” she recalls. “She was really tall and graceful, but what drew people to her was her passion for what she did — nursing. Fifteen minutes into her talk on the need for dedicated nurses in the country, I had already made up my mind to join her team in Vellore.”

    Her family members were aghast as “Nursing was looked down at that time. No woman from a good family would get into the profession.” When I broke the news to my family that I was moving to Vellore, they were aghast. News spread fast and my father received condolence letters,” said Jacob, who was the third among five sisters. Undeterred, she went on to be among the first batch of nine students under Pitman. “It was the best move I made in my life,” says Jacob.

    After completing her course three years later, Jacob moved on to work in Delhi, before she got a scholarship in 1947 to do a bachelor’s in Canada. “A month later, I saw myself on board SS Franconia and later made my way from Liverpool to Montreal,” she said. She returned to Vellore two years later, where she was made the Nursing Superintendent. She worked there from 1949 to 1974.

    Pitman continued mentoring her through letters from London. “She said it was up to me to now to pass on what I was taught. And that’s what I did and continue doing,” says Jacob, who stays on her own in Vellore and continues mentoring young nurses.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / by Ekatha Ann John, TNN / July 20th, 2014


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    Tamil Nadu govt institutes award in poet Ilango Adigal's name

    Tamil Nadu govt institutes award in poet Ilango Adigal’s name

    Chennai :

    The Tamil Nadu government has instituted an award in the name of Ilango Adigal, the author of “Silappathikaram,” which is one of the five great epics in Tamil literature, to honour people who have done pioneering work in the field of literature.

    Chief minister J Jayalalithaa said in the assembly that the award would be presented to individuals credited with similar feat in the literary world and who spearhead the cause of classical literature. “The award, carrying Rs 1 lakh in cash, one sovereign gold medal and a citation, will be presented during the Tamil New Year in April,” she said.

    Similarly, the government has instituted ‘Tamil Chemmal’ award to honour people who have made big contributions for the development of Tamil in every district. It would carry a cash prize of Rs 25,000 and a citation.

    Jaylalithaa said two new buildings would be constructed at Tamil University in Thanjavur. A museum to showcase the life of ancient Tamils would be opened at the International Tamil Research Institute in Taramani, Chennai.

    “My government’s efforts will develop Tamil language, encourage Tamil enthusiasts and help the future generations know about the ancient Tamils’ values,” she said.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / by Julie Mariappan, TNN / July 25th, 2014

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    July 20th, 2014adminRecords, All, Science & Technologies


    The 24-year-old gives birth to a baby girl at the same hospital she was born in

    At 4.24 p.m. on Thursday, the first cry of a newborn brought back memories of an unforgettable day in 1990 for doctors at GG Hospital and a family from Tirunelveli.

    Twenty four years after she was born at the hospital, south India’s first test tube baby — Kamala Rathinam — delivered a girl at the same hospital. “She got married on September 8, 2013 and conceived naturally. She endured heavy labour pain this morning. We tried for seven hours to ensure a normal delivery but there was difficulty in opening of the mouth of the cervix. She underwent a caesarean section. She was due a week later but we did not want to take a chance,” Kamala Selvaraj, obstetrician and gynaecologist, GG Hospital, said.

    The baby weighed 2.8 kg and both mother and child are healthy, she added. An excited Dr. Selvaraj said that this case will remove any doubts in people’s minds about whether test tube babies can lead a normal life. Ms. Rathinam and her husband Rajesh Hariharan are software engineers working in Bangalore.

    “I was keen on bringing her to GG Hospital for delivery. We had ante natal check-ups done in Bangalore and came to Chennai during her eighth month of pregnancy,” Mr. Rajesh says.

    Kamala’s birth on August 1, 1990 marked a milestone in Assisted Reproductive Technology in south India, recall doctors. Her father Ramamurthy (70) wishes his wife was alive to see their granddaughter. “She died last year when my daughter had just conceived,” he said. He was 46 when Kamala Rathinam was born. “I knew that this procedure was new but they explained everything to me, and I was not afraid,” he said.

    Kamala was named after Dr. Selvaraj and his mother Ramarathinam, he said.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai> Health / by Serena Josephine. M / Chennai – July 11th, 2014

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    Chennai :

    Milk production in Tamil Nadu has gone up by 1.2 lakh litres per day and 18,356 new born calves were added to the cattle population as a result of the 36,000 milch cows distributed by the initiatives of Chief Minister J Jayalalitha, Animal Husbandary Minister TKM Chinnayya said on Saturday.

    Speaking at the valedictory of the 21st Annual Convention of Indian Society for Veterinary Immunology and Biotechnology at the Madras Veterinary College, he said the 6 lakh goats distributed free by the government have more than doubled their population to increase to 14.86 lakh.

    According to him in the three years that the scheme has been implemented, about 1.2 lakh people who have received milch cows and over 1.5 lakh beneficiaries who have received goats are reaping the benefits of the scheme.

    He also informed that Tamil Nadu accounts for 17.71 per cent of the poultry population of the country and more than 90 per cent of poultry products exported from India originates from the state.

    The minister distributed several awards to the participating students and prize winning presentations at the conference which has drawn several delegates from the US and UK. Secretary to Government, Animal Husbandary, Dairying and Fisheries Department, S Vijayakumar, President of ISVIB, RK Singh, Dean of Virginia – Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, USA, Cyril Clarke and Vice -Chancellor of TANUVAS, TJ Harikrishnan, were present on the occasion.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Express News Service / July 20th, 2014

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