the residents of thiruvika colony n.
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The residents of Thiruvika Colony

The residents of Thiruvika Colony

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The residents of Thiruvika Colony

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  1. The residents of Thiruvika Colony Constructed by the British during the colonial era, Mount Road is an embodiment of the development that has taken place in Chennai. One of the city’s main arteries, this 15km road stretches past some of the largest corporate establishments and Government offices. SelvanThandapani wandered the side streets along Mount Road and discovered that the ease of life and provision of infrastructure and services normally associated with development has not percolated to the voiceless residents who live on these streets. This photo journal captures a glimpse into the lives of the residents of Thiruvika Colony, one of the many poor neighbourhoods around Mount Road. Photos: SelvanThandapani Themes: Elizabeth Mathew

  2. The view from Thiruvika Colony The distant view of Ramme Mall, paved roads and bustling traffic from Thiruvika colony belies the level of development that has taken place within this neighbourhood.

  3. Sambrani Guna, a long time Thiruvika Colony resident, carries out her daily task of making Sambrani which consists of the ash derived from burning a special type of bark valued for its incense and mosquito repellent qualities. A few months prior to when this photo was taken, this colony had suffered an outbreak of waterborne diseases. During the monsoons, it is common for residents of waterlogged neighbourhoods with poor or non existent drainage systems to battle mosquito borne diseases like malaria and dengue.

  4. The power of promises With elaborate promises of change and development, politicians invest a great deal of money in canvassing for votes from the residents of Thiruvika Colony. In return, the politicians receive loyalty from disadvantaged community members desperate for change and with no alternative source of hope. A picture of a beaming, prominent politician with a faux halo, projecting him as an almost god like figure, is a common sight in this neighbourhood.

  5. The corner store In stark contrast to the sleek air conditioned malls on Mount Road, outdoor corner shops like this one serve as the main form of livelihood for a number of residents. These small shops sell household goods, such as single serve sachets of shampoo, that are especially marketed to the population that lies at the bottom of the pyramid. Chickens belonging to other residents of this community wander around freely.

  6. Kalaiarasi’s home 13 year old Kalaiarasi, seated in front of her house, uses the last few hours of sunlight to complete her homework. Her family, like most of the other residents of the colony, “borrow” electricity from neighbouring houses. The Government refuses legitimate electricity connections to those residing in homes that are not entirely constructed out of concrete. This is a novel concept for Kalaiarasi who has lived under a thatched roof for as long as she can remember.

  7. Sense of community Kaniamma is 40 years old and has four grown children who are expected home at any moment for dinner. Kaniamma uses a traditional cookstove to make dinner while in the background dogs lazily while away their time. The sense of community in this colony extends to all its inhabitants including the animals that live here. Kaniamma makes it a point to feed the stray dogs every day.

  8. Long time resident Lakshmi (right) has lived in this colony for the past 25 years and says that she knows everyone here. She babysits her granddaughters (left) who also live here. Given their closeness, Lakshmi and her neighbours stay abreast of all the news in each others lives, an interesting contrast from the comparatively isolated lives of residents in more developed areas where contact with neighbours rarely takes place on such an intimate level.

  9. Panner and Martin Panner (left) and Martin live in Thiruvika Colony and have been friends for the past 25 years. Meeting up at each other’s homes is an evening ritual for them. This evening they decided to meet at Martin’s home. Both are employed as painters, a profession that is in high demand given the number of newly constructed buildings around their colony.

  10. Necessity and innovation Rani is 61 years old and has spent the last 10 years selling flowers after a serious injury to her leg affected her mobility. Innovative means of using everyday objects is a common theme as disadvantaged community members make do with what they have. Here Rani sells marigolds on an improvised table comprising a board that rests on top of a bucket.

  11. Flowers From left to right: Puspa, Kanika and Gowri thread flowers while a neighbour keeps them company. The women are all in their 40’s and 50’s and have been doing this work for decades. These women are representative of the many others in Thiruvika Colony who are not just responsible for taking care of their homes but are also often times the primary earners in their families.

  12. Ravi Ravi, age 4, doesn’t live in this colony but likes to come here to play with friends. He rides his bicycle, a recent gift from his father, past red colouredtaurpalin that has been placed over a crumbling wall to protect if from the elements.

  13. Tea time Neighbours meet outside their homes in the evening for tea. In the distance, street lights signify the entrance to government housing that was constructed to rehabilitate evicted slum tenants.

  14. Government housing Saranraj, 18, Praveen, 17, and Vimal, 17, stand in front of the government constructed flats and make plans to watch a movie with friends. The stark contrast in clothes and lifestyle between those residing in government housing and in the slums draws attention to the fact that a number of people continue to live in the slums while they rent their government allocated apartments to richer families.

  15. Water Women who live in the slums mingle with those who reside in the government housing as they all gather to collect water for their homes. On average, one pump provides water to around 20 families. Each family owns its own water pump handle which they bring along when they come to collect water.

  16. Prayer A motorcycle leans against the wall of a church. The predominant religions practiced in this neighbourhood, as with the rest of Chennai, are Hinduism and Christianity.