Mambalam housed a number of journalists, junior artistes, and drama actors.
Vikraman, editor of the fifty-year-old Tamil magazine Amudhasurabhi, belongs
to West Mambalam. Other than him, playwright Komal Swaminathan, writer La.
Sa. Ramamirutham, vocalists Radha and Jayalakshmi, actor Nagesh were all
initially residents of West Mambalam. As soon as the name Nagesh is
mentioned, we are reminded of cinema. Till date the only cinema theatre in
West Mambalam is the National theatre. Right from the time the theatre was
functioning and till now, you can find no major difference there. While
approaching that place the cows used to lift their tails. The place in front
of the National theatre must be the only place in Chennai where one can get
natural manure in plenty. The entire place will be in such a mess.
Generally the prices of groceries will be much cheaper in West Mambalam.
That too, certain shops will display on their boards, "Sudden fall in the
prices of chillies! Tamarind prices decline! Toor dall costs fall!" and
these slogans will kindle the enthusiasm of one and all. The vegetable
market is also noteworthy. The enhancing desire for non-vegetarian food in
Chennai has failed to make a significant mark in West Mambalam. There are
two ancient and beautiful temples. One is the Kothandaramaswami temple and
the other one is the Kasi Viswanathar temple. Adjacent to the
Kothandaramaswami temple is the renowned higher secondary school run by the
Ahobila Mutt. Students belonging to backward classes and even Muslim
children study and learn Sanskrit here and they even win prizes. In those
days a speech or a religious discourse was conducted daily in
Kothandaramaswami temple. Today those who have a flair for such religious
discourses watch B.R.Chopra's "Mahabharatham" television serial.
People getting together and maintaining the environment is the
extra-ordinary feature of West Mambalam. The area, which was slushy and
dirty with drainage water and synonymous with stench and elephantiasis, has
turned out into a cleaner place. Elephantiasis has been thoroughly
eradicated. The streets of West Mambalam are tidier than those of New
Mambalam, Thiagaraya Nagar. All the streets have proper name-boards, that
too free from posters being stuck on them. Old Mambalam, known as West
Mambalam now, is one of the oldest residential areas of Chennai. Even though
it has not transformed itself into a dazzling, wealthy area, it is an area
where you can find people with greater discipline and self-control, in
everyday life. It stands out as a model in the entire Chennai City.
Retro Chennai from Asoka Mithran looks back at Chennai, in fact the Madras as it was known and existed. The column traces the city's lifescape at various points of time.