Memories of K K Nagar – by K K Nair

K. K. Nair is 81 and active. You will not miss him at the campus of the Sri Ayyappa Temple in K K Nagar. Nair left his home in Alleppey in Kerala for Delhi when he was in his late teens to make a career in journalism which ran for over four decades. Much of it was spent in Madras. He moved to K K Nagar in 1973 after building a house on Lakshmanasamy Road.
In this column he rewinds to the days when a Housing Board land was the pursuit of every middle class family.
When I came to Madras and began working for the Indian Express in its Sports department, Pudupet was our home. The office was not far away and our kids could school at a local convent.
colleagues and people in the press who were looking for a piece of land had learnt about the offers that the Housing Board was making in the K K Nagar scheme and some of them were lucky to be alloted either plots or flats. That was in the late 1960s.
A senior colleague, V. P. Vijaykumar had got a place ( he continues to reside here today) and although I heard of the scheme I did not give it much thought – who had that kind of money. Anywhere between ten and thirteen thousand rupees for a decent plot.
I later learnt that there was a small quota set aside for journalists and then I made enquiries. I still had not been to the K K Nagar area and did not know what it looked like. When I finally checked with the Housing Board officials they said the quota was exhausted now and that I would have to wait for another scheme.
I used to cover football those days and we used to get big crowds at the gams held at the old Nehru Stadium. We also had many VIPs who sat for the games and enjoyed them. Ministers like Rajaram, Raghavanandam and R M Veerappan and actors like Muthuraman and Nagesh.
These people would sit near the media section. One day I bumped into Rajaram who was the then Housing Minister and he asked me where I lived. I told him. I also told him of my attempts to get a HB plot. He said he would help and asked me to meet the head of the Board, a IAS officer.
Soon, an allotment was made. But they had a plot of over 2 grounds and it would cost over Rs.13,000. I did not have such money but this time I did not want to let go the offer and managed to get some soft loans and paid to get the plot.
When my wife and I came here to see the plot we were not shocked. The bus stopped near the area where the Ashok Nagar Police Station is today. And we had to walk in. Roads had been laid and there were about three houses in K K Nagar. Drinking water was available but the drains were yet to come up.
The whole area looked like a scrub land but in present Nesapakkam, the vegetation was thick.
I managed to raise some money and we constructed some thing to call our house. Very basic it was. That was in 1973. Within a few months, apartments of the Housing Board came up on P T Rajan Salai and the place looked a bit different.
I used to work as late as 10 p.m. and would hop off the bus at the K K Nagar terminus and walk all the way home. But I had no fear. We never had any security problems. But the scrubs of Nesapakkam were the haunts of the people who made illicit liquor and sold it. It was the bad land of this area and we kept away from that end.
Mrs. YGP was soon setting up the Padma Seshadri Bal Bhavan in a private space with a thatched roof and her colleagues came around encouraging us to admit our children here. My daughter studied here. Imagine the scenario today!
As we slowly build a more formal house we made best use of the open plot as did our neighbours. We had a great mango tree, many coconut trees and lots of vegetables and flowering plants. I would say we were self sufficient when ti came to vegetables.
All the houses were independent houses and there used to be many Keralites here, some famous names like film director Bharatan who had a house built in the Kerala style.
Changes took place in the 1990s when people expanded their houses and more buses began to ply inside K K Nagar and the commercial spaces sprang up.
Soon, people began to sell their land to builders and apartment blocks came up.
Many Keralites who had grown old left for Kerala; their kids stayed on or the properties got sold so we lost many familiar faces. But a few still remain though all of us now live in apartments because we could not manage the independent houses.
But K K Nagar have given me another active life. I  have been associated with the Sri Shastha Sangam that built the Sri Ayyappa shrine here since its foundation and since my retirement I have been an active leader,being at the campus every morning and evening.
>> You can reach K K Nair at 2366 3208.
<< DO YOU WANT TO SHARE YOUR RECOLLECTIONS OF LIFE IN VADAPALANI/ASHOK NAGAR/ ARCOT ROAD in the 60s? Please call us at 2376 4320 and we will sit with you and chat! And reproduce your story in Arcot Road Times >>


This entry was posted on Friday, April 2nd, 2010 and is filed under News, Rewind. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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