Sunday, May 16, 2010

The New Golden Triangle

FOR many reading the title, memories of India's famous poster of DelhiJaipur-Udaipur may come to mind.
Others may recall the phrase that emerged in the seventies during the Vietnam war about the areas of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam for the drug, sex and narcotic underworld trade. I am referring to neither but the emerging area in our own backyard of southern Tamil Nadu -Trichy , Tuticorin and Tirunelveli.
I am not mentioning Madurai or Coimbatore, which emerged two decades ago as Tamil Nadu's mega growth centres. Today , the three Ts represent the aspirational and assertive face of our state. Money, trade and ambition are soaring among the younger generation who think nothing of flying to Chennai to party , pay cold cash for jewellery, fancy luggage and saris. Like the farmers of Punjab who travel to Delhi's Louis Vuitton store with cash-filled suitcases for the branded bridal luggage collection costing almost Rs 40 lakh, "the times they are a changing."

Walk into the best hotel in Trichy and ask the chef to whip you up an egg white omelette with multi grain bread and voila! It comes with a flourish and and a smile. Great tasting veggie sandwiches and old world bakeries serving nankhatai biscuits, Japanese cakes and cream puffs are standing tall amidst temple gopurams. I can still find my favourite `panneer soda' in a small shop opposite the temple mutt. Though these towns are best known for their religious and cultural landmarks, national brands are locating these new lucrative markets.

Trade, commerce, philosophy and culture have always been nurtured by the banks of the Cauvery and the Tambarabarani. Musicians, dancers, priests, thrived under the patronage of wise rulers. Today , parties, private jets, fancy cars and branded diamond watches are the norm for the affluent in these emerging towns. Thousands of phirangs crowd the ancient temples in the surrounding areas of Trichy and Tirunelveli while the new India is thronging the hotels and malls -the neo temples of today .

I travel often to all three cities and have been amazed with the change over the years. The sari brands of Pothys and RMKV hail from Tirunelveli and so do many other successful retail names. Trichy and its suburbs has become the centre of many new universities offering alternative courses in the performing arts, philosophy and culture. The best of Tamizh folk and martial arts are still being practiced in this geographical `trikona'. So city readersstop being snooty , lower those Dior sunglasses and take note. This is the new golden triangle of our state.

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