Some time ago we saw past and present of Paris morphed into one picture.
Now, I am Madras, a Facebook page has released a set of images which compare-contrast present day Chennai with its past as Madras. The album is titled #ChennaitoMadras
Along with the beautiful images, descriptive captions also put the relevance of these pictures into perspective.
Then: Even in the 60's, apart from Ambassadors, bullock carts frequented Mount Road. There's no median, and you can see the Kashmir Art Palace, the Old Curiosity Shop and Agurchand Mansion leading to the LIC Building.
Now: Do we really need to talk about the frustrating one-ways?
Then: It was a time when Mount Road was a cart track leading from Fort St.George to St.Thomas Town, as well as functioning as a haven for film buffs. Casino was one of the first few theaters of Madras, and screened only English films for a long time. It was a sophisticated work of art than just a movie theater. In the old image you can see 'The Virginian' playing at the theater.
Now: After several attempts to revive it, Casino is now unfortunately a terribly-managed lost landmark. However, thanks to Street Art Chennai, the theater now sports a striking portrait of Madhubala, and a bit of its old-world charm.
Then: Started by an English librarian named Abel Joshua Higginbotham, Higginbotham's, arguably India's oldest bookstore opened its doors around 1844. By the middle of the 20th century, Higginbothams expanded to almost all of the railway stations. Higginbothams remained the largest bookstore until the 1990's.
Now: A visit to Higginbotham's is like stepping into a whole other world, going back in time, with the arterial Mount Road / Anna Salai outside constantly buzzing with traffic and the Metro Rail construction. What's amazing is how they managed to maintain the building so well, even if it's lost most of its customers to its competition.
Then: Another shot of India's then-largest bookstore as vintage cars park comfortably, and its occupants to grab their favourite literary classics. The building next to Higginbothams is Poompuhar, the popular textile shop.
Now: If you park outside Higginbotham's today, you're probably gonna be pulled over by the cops for obstruction of traffic, thanks to the Metro Rail work going on right opposite.
Then: Commuters stop by to check ongoing Test Match scores on the manually-operated scoreboard on the balcony of The Hindu office.
Now: You can hardly stop for more than a minute outside the Hindu office today, thanks to the wonderful, constantly moving traffic. The traffic is such that it even warranted a subway to cross the road to the side that hosts the defunct Secretariat.
Then: Old ambassador taxis plying in and out, while the rest of the commuters preferring to take a cycle. Before its expansion in the 80's, Madras Central station was a relatively calmer, charming alighting point.
Now: A symbolic landmark of the city, Chennai Central looks as majestic as it ever was, but terribly buzzing with thousands of people who visit it everyday. And unfortunately, the Central signal has become a nightmare for those who've visited it(pretty much every Chennaiite)
Then: History says that, 'Madras Egmore' was previously a fort called the Egmore Redoubt, a place used to store ammunition for the British.
Now: Even with CCTV cameras and round-the-clock security, Egmore Station still retains its old-world charm and calm(relatively) in the otherwise buzzing Egmore area.
Then: Constructed in a Neoclassical style, the all-white Madras Corporation building was one of the finest structures in Madras, with it's own pond that you can see.
Now: Off-limits to passers-by, it is now impossible to even stop and stare at the Ripon Building which is now shielded by the Metro Contstrucion blue sheets. Which makes this one of the toughest shots to catch!