Chennai? Madras?

January 8, 2010

The lovely weather’s lasted a much longer time than anyone (except perhaps, a rabid optimist) would have hoped.

Sitting on the beach and wanting to slip into a sweater or (at the very least) a full-sleeve shirt is fantastic. Sitting outside and breathing in air that feels clear as crystal and cold enough to make you realise that your breathing is wonderful. Madras, is this?

Global warming, people say. It’s not fair really. It’s so bad for the world. And so good to us Chennai-ites. Then again, maybe it’s just good ol’ Madras December/January back again.

This is the time of year when sounds carry, more people stay in, fans go off, blankets come out. It’s like being on vacation without stirring an inch!

Also- with this kind of weather, cleaning the beach will be a joy. Goodbye, reluctance-breeding-stickiness.

Inhale, invigorate yourselves. Go for a walk along the beach.
Remind yourself why you love it, why you love Madras. And why it’s all worth reclaiming.

Akhila, ROB


The ROB manifesto

December 20, 2009

“Reclaim Our Beaches” is a campaign by Chennaiites to reclaim our
public spaces beginning with the beaches — one of the last remaining
truly public spaces where people go for fresh air, fun, exercise,
livelihood, some private moments with a loved one, for the elderly to
sit around talking to their peers, a romp on the sands with our little
ones, for peanuts and the merry-go-round, for a game of frisbee or
cricket, a walk on the waterline to protect the Olive Ridleys. The
campaign is aimed at reviving our responsibility over this public
space, as the only way of preventing this space from being
commandeered to suit the designs of vested interests — real estate
lobby, politician-contractor mafia.

Reclaim Our Beaches is an initiative that is triggered by the sorry
state of our most cherished public space, and the fact that as users,
the lot of us named above have done little to prevent the beach from
being run over by trash — plastic spoons, water sachets, balloon
pieces, broken glass, beverage containers. From time to time, the
Government orders our school children to clean-up the trash on the
beach, and calls that an environmental activity. Why our children are
called in to clean up after somebody else is never really explained.
Neither is there any explanation of what steps are being taken to
prevent littering on the beach, or the use of unsustainable material,
or of why all the waste that is collected from the beaches are dumped
on the unsuspecting communities living near Perungudi and
Pallikaranai. Through this aimless deployment of our children as
labour to clean up after somebody else, we are conveying that it is ok
to mindlessly use and throw trash, including plastics, that those who
dirty the place need not clean up, and that the only way to clean up
the beach is to dirty someone else’s neighbourhood.

The Right Clean-up: Reclaim Our Beaches Initiative proposes to engage
Chennai residents, beach users and visitors in an effort to clean up
the beaches and keep it clean — not by periodic clean-ups by unpaid
child labour; nor by engaging in periodic clean-ups by paid adult
labour;  but by potty training our society. The Clean-up Campaign that
begins in November will converge to a massive clean-up on January 30,
2010, and a celebration on January 31.

Spearheaded by 350me, a youth initiative, and the Save Chennai Beaches
Campaign which is a collective of residents opposing the Elevated
Expressway on the beach, Reclaim Our Beaches is an initiative to
reclaim democracy.