Date:22/08/2007 URL:


Tamil Nadu - Chennai

Emden and its impact on Chennai discussed

Staff Reporter

Lecture part of Madras Day celebrations

Photo contest on the theme ‘Madras Maridichi’ announced

For details, visit

Chennai: A German ship that created panic in the city 93 years ago has contributed to the Tamil lexicon.

Warship Emden bombed British oil tanks kept on the Madras coast and, now ‘emden’ in Tamil means ‘streetsmart’.

A lecture on the ship and its saga was organised at Max Mueller Bhavan on Tuesday, as part of the week-long celebrations for Madras Day.

Research scholar Joachim Bautze said SMS Emden was such a beautiful ship that even the British, who were enemies of Germany, referred to it as the ‘Swan of the East’.

Captain von Muller, who led the ship’s attacks, had written an account of the ship’s voyage with a description of the bombing of Madras.

There are descriptions of the thick smoke that blackened the city’s skyline as grenades hit the oil tanks, he said.

During the interaction session, members of the audience asked Mr. Bautze if an Indian was on board the Emden.

There were stories of a crew member by the name Chembakaraman Pillai, who was said to be a right-hand man of the captain.

Mr. Bautze said that though the original records bear no mention of an Indian it was quite possible that there was one on board.

Madras and America

The Indo-American Association held a meeting on the connections between the United States and Chennai on Monday evening.

Historian S. Muthiah spoke on events in the past that linked America and India.

Mr. Muthiah said that trade had flourished between Madras and the colonies in America before the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Mr. Muthiah also narrated a little known story of a ship called United States that sailed from Philadelphia to Pondicherry in 1784 in an attempt to gain permission to set up a colony in the area. The Americans were not granted the right to create a colony but trade relations continued.

The historian said that Welshman David Yale, one of the first Governors of Madras, had helped found the Yale University. U.S Consul-General in Chennai David Hopper participated in the lecture.

Photo contest

Ambitions 4 Photography Academy will hold a photography contest on the theme ‘Madras Maridichi’ (Madras has changed).

Entries to the contest should be marked ‘The Madras Day Photo Contest’.

Entries sent to the academy at 21/2, TTK Road, Alwarpet, Chennai - 18, by Saturday.

The photographs should reflect the changing face of the city of the Chennai, the contrast between the old and the new or the existence of the old with the new, a release here said.

The contest is open to all and has two categories – juniors (aged below 20 as on July 31, 2007) and seniors. Juniors must attach a proof of age document.

The photographs should be original work in colour.

The size of the photo print should be eight inches by twelve inches only.

A participant can send a maximum of only two photographs.

Prizes would be awarded to the best three photographs in each category.

Interesting entries would be displayed for public viewing. Photographs submitted would not be returned, a press release said. Visit for details.

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