Royapuram: Wheel of time takes the sea away

In the 1970s, Ajit Diaz’s family was among the very few non-Anglo Indian families to make Royapuram their home.

Article by Serena Josephine M | The Hindu

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What he vividly remembers about this north Chennai locality is its tranquil surroundings, large houses and carnival-like atmosphere during Christmas.

“The four Mada Church roads make the Royapuram that I know. There was a huge presence of Anglo Indian families and a few non-Anglo Indian families like us. There was just one grocery store,” says 52-year-old Mr. Diaz, who continues to run a printing press on East Mada Church Road.

Many of the neighbourhood’s Anglo Indians worked in the Railways, with Royapuram housing one of the oldest railway stations in India.

“There were several avenue trees and villas. The street houses were quite large, airy and had a tiled roof. Very few had motor cars. People used to sit outside their homes and play guitars in the evening,” he recalls.

In 1986, Mr. Diaz moved to Anna Nagar, as the development of the harbour carried dust from the iron ore and coal and the streets became parking zones for lorries.

The Parsi community has its presence here even today. Eighty-nine-year-old J.C. Patel said the community has grown up around the Fire Temple, club, dharamsala and burial ground in the neighbourhood.

The octogenarian feels sad that he no can longer catch a glimpse of the sea. “When I was a child, the sea was much closer to the road. There was a small beach. Over the years, the sea receded, and with the harbour, we cannot see the sea at all,” he adds.