Posts Tagged ‘Mairie Hall’

Mairie hall b4 collapse

Governor Bontemps gave me a glorious life in the year 1870,

I had a long innings of 144 years, serving all of you aplenty.


Just a year after I was born, the French Parliament gave you representation,

Panon Desbassyns de Richemont had the first honour by your recommendation.


The first seeds of your emancipation he and Ponnu Thambi Pillai alone pooled,

The latter walked into the court wearing shoes and established equality between the rulers and the ruled.


Local governance brought in better degree of autonomous gaiety,

When the first ever Municipal Elections were held in 1880.


The novel concept of Renocants was introduced through the 1881 decree,

A beginning of assimilation of two diverse cultures I could then see.


In 1892, setting up of the Gaebele (Bharati) Mill was a historic event,

The starting up of the Rodier (AFT) Mill in 1898 was no different.


As the farmers started acquiring industrial skills, making different work ethics align,

Of the faint stirrings of a home-grown ‘Swadesi’ movement there was a clear sign.


Subramaniam Bharati soon arrived and ignited your patriotic fervour,

1910 saw Sri Aurobindo come in and assume the role of a spiritual saviour. 


V. S. Aiyar and Va. Ra. shortly followed, giving an impetus to the freedom movement,

The French rulers were aware but did not think it worthwhile to comment.


I watched in horror as the twin disasters of two World Wars unfolded,

I salute those who made the ultimate sacrifice with my hands folded.


The year 1947 made me rejoice as the Indian Union awoke to its tryst with destiny,

I watched in quite sorrow as 1948 saw a farce election being held with impunity.


I was a dumb and mute witness to Monsieur Menard’s brutal repression,

Leading to a complete hartal in 1954, giving the natives’ wish an expression.


Our de facto transfer to India came about on the 1st of November, 1954,

The rich tapestry of French influence of 280 years became a part of history and folklore.


I witnessed the dream of Auroville manifesting itself in a manner grand,

With quiet dismay I saw the promenade losing its lovely stretch of sand.


Matri Mandir added to the golden-hued spiritual ambience of the town,

Enthusiasm of people from all over making Pondicherry their home could never be put down.


Having people who use 55 diverse languages and together face a tsunami-like adversity,

It sets a fine example, a testimony to cultural harmony and unity in diversity.


I did play an important role in making Pondicherry what it is at present,

An oasis of peace in a vast desert which is turning increasingly turbulent.


I breathed my last this day in 2014, hoping I shall be reborn soon,

A new body received in a spirit of harmony and utility shall be a boon.


My soul continues to hover unabated, shining through many of you,

I hope that you shall overcome your differences and rebuild me with a holistic view.

(Historical facts quoted from ‘A Concise History of Pondicherry’ by Prof. P. Raja, ISBN 81-87619-03-1)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/the-soul-of-mairie-speaks)

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For 144 long years, suffering neglect, I served you all,
Elements of nature eventually took their toll, making my frail body fall.

Mairie hall b4 collapse

Lofty hopes of your rulers once soared in lime and stone,
The best materials gradually became my flesh and bone;
The architecture was flawless; of ingenuity in design there was no dearth,
To only serve you was I visualized and made to spring up from the earth.

Mairie Hall Pondicherry

Celebrities, dignitaries, citizens and visitors marveled at my grace,
On the sands of Puducherry’s history, I have left many a trace;
The creaking body of mine gave you several hints in the past,
Your apathy made me crumble, leaving a gap in the Promenade vast.

My soul continues to hover unabated, shining through many of you,
I hope that my passing would give rise to a united fervour and view;
For the sake of posterity, Puducherry’s heritage is yours to preserve,
I yearn to be reborn; beseech you to restore others which also deserve.

Mairie hall after restoration

All over the planet, many structures like me seek care and restoration,
Connecting you with your glorious past, we cannot survive merely on adoration;
Like ageing human beings, we also need love, nursing and tender care,
Let others not meet the same fate as befell me, leaving the earth barren and bare.

[All those who are fond of taking a brisk walk on the beach front of Puducherry would henceforth be sourly missing an imposing structure – the Hotel de Ville, also known as the Mairie Hall.

Built in 1870-71, the Mairie (French for town hall) building was an important part of an ensemble of sea-facing landmark structures, including the old lighthouse, the Chief Secretariat and the French Consulate.

A landmark building with a unique architectural style, it was a majestic structure which one passed by casually, often marveling at its splendor and beauty. On the 29th of November, 2014, owing to heavy rains which lashed the coastal town of Puducherry over the preceding week, it collapsed.

This composition is dedicated to Mairie Hall.]

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-soul-of-mairie-recounts)

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