If anyone asks me for my most unforgettable experience of my past life, I would unhesitatingly mention about my rides in the trams of Madras (Chennai). I lived in the Triplicane High Road and studied in the nearby Hindu High School. The trams ran right in front of my house and it was great watching them move around at snail’s speed making a huge grinding noise like the modern mixies. The tram driver would operate it standing all day and by way of horn, he would stamp on the bell at the bottom with his feet. I loved travelling by them with my dad. How many times I would have travelled by them in my childhood! I was around eleven years old when the tram services were withdrawn for financial reasons. The company cited huge losses as the reason to close down and you know how much it was? Rs.50000 per month! It is the equivalent of an average monthly salary of a software employee today! It was in 1953 and I even remember the day. It was just a couple of days before the Tamil New Year’s Day in April. We were all extremely sad and nobody was in a mood to celebrate New Year. My grandmother called it as ‘Vinaasa Kaalam’ in a choked voice. We were all standing outside the door to bid final farewell to the last tram at midnight. The conductor offered us free rides as a parting gift. The whole city looked dead without the trams the next day. The rails on which the trams ran were left undisturbed until the successive road laying covered them! The other novelty was the hand-pulled rickshs. The burly riksha pullers would pull us with ease over long distances. I loved travelling by them but my mother considered it a sin to travel in a vehicle pulled by another man. Whenever I fell ill, my mother would take me to the Doctor in it but she would prefer to walk alongside rather than riding in it. Our Medical miracle-man was Dr. Krishnamurthy Rao who lived some two miles away close to Parthasarathy Temple. He had a phone in his room that always kept me spell bound seeing him talk over it. Occasionally he allowed me to say hellow to his wife whenever he received a call from her. After he examined me with a stethoscope and thermometer, he would call his compounder Ranga Rao and give him a prescription. Ranga Rao would go to the adjoining room and prepare the concoction. It would be invariably a pink fluid with awful taste. It would be given to us in a flat bottle with the dosages marked on a piece of paper stuck on the side. My mother would grab my head and pore it in my mouth despite my tearful protests. She would then give half a spoon of sugar as a palliative for the awful-tasting medicine. There were hardly any medical shops in those days and Dr.Krishnamurthy Rao had no faith in them either. There was the Star Talkies right in front of my house which is closed now. The lowest ticket was priced at 4 3/4 annas (30 paise in modern terms). Whenever the old news papers were sold, my brother and I would make a beeline to Star Talkies. I saw Madhumathi several times in this Theatre and was madly in love with Vyjayanthimala who was some ten years elder to me! There was a ‘chettiar’ shop near my house where we bought buy our stuff for credit on a weekly basis. The Chettiar was very fond of me and every time I went with my mother there, he would offer me a toffee on condition that he should pop it in my mouth himself. My mother was never happy with this arrangement as she always had a morbid fear that I might swallow it and choke! My school celebrated its centenary when I was in the 6th Class. It must be racing towards its bicentenary now! There was a nickname for every teacher based on his appearance, name or practices! For example, there was a teacher who used a single finger to hit us with telling effect to submission. He was nicknamed ‘verladi’ (Finger beater!) My association with Triplicane was the happiest part of my life. It keeps me going even now! When I was sick recently, I spent most of my time joyfully recalling my Triplicane days! I just recall the lines of a popular song, ‘Those were the days my friend We thought they'd never end’ PS: My uncooperative right eye is responsible for all mistakes!