I was extremely happy when my idea for reporting on Marina post- Jallikattu protests was approved. Marina is my most favourite place in the city.
Although I decided to concentrate more on what was going on near Jaya memorial, I decided to take a long walk like I always did. I got off the bus near Queen Mary’s College and kept walking along the beach. It helped me report better. But, I hated the deserted look of the beach.This was not the first time I was there in the afternoon. I used to go there in the afternoons frequently during my undergrad days at Ethiraj. The place invariably cheered me up. Not today, though.
One thing became very clear- the anxiety. An ice cream seller told me that people got anxious seeing cops everywhere. Policemen there told me that the government was scared college students would start another protest for something. A cop told me that they were having ‘tight shifts’ because of the fake news spreading via Whatsapp that worries the government (whatever that was)!
Most shops were closed and I could only talk to police personnel and a few people who were about to close their shops too. There were a number of foreigners (English, I guess) with cameras around their necks. I wondered what impression they got, of the beautiful natural beach. I wanted to approach and tell them that this was not how it was.
After speaking to a lot of people, my hunger pangs kicked in. I decided to visit Aavin Parlour before heading to Jaya’s memorial. After a sandwich and a lassi, I spoke to a helpful person behind the counter who told me that the footfall had reduced there too.
One would mistake the memorial for any famous tourist spot. A photographer with a polaroid camera promising you an instant photograph at Amma memorial, police asking the line to move ahead once done getting themselves photographed, people taking selfies and groupfies, hawkers shouting ‘Amma oda vaazhkai varalaaru 20 rupees dhaan’ (Amma’s life history for just Rs.20). Three or four of them hanging around had these ‘history’ books, key chains and pictures of the late chief minister. After taking a picture of the keychains, I started walking out of the place. I realised after five minutes that I could have talked to the hawker. I went back to find more people clicking pictures of his key chains. I asked him about the crowd there. He enthused “Naalaiku Amma oda porandha naal ma” (It’s Amma’s birthday tomorrow) and when I tried to be nice and asked “oh, apdiyaa anna?” (Is it?), he asked me to get myself a copy of the history. I smiled and half-lied that I didn’t know to read Tamil at all and left the place.