The 22nd of August every year is commemorated as Madras Day in Chennai (formerly Madras) in India.
The city of Chennai, originated around the British settlement of Fort St. George. The fort and the lands surrounding it were leased by the East India Company on August 22, 1639.
This small settlement in the Southern part of India slowly grew into the impressive Madras Presidency during the colonial-era, and developed into the awesome metropolitan city of today.
No one knows for sure how the city got its name of Madras, though many rumours abound. So, here’s my take on how the city might have got the name.
Today, the city’s most notorious for its autorickshaw drivers, who charge exorbitant rates and drive rashly.
Then, these autorickshaw drivers probably did have their ancestors.
The time when Fort St. George was built and colonialists were slowly starting to trickle in, the British decided that they must surely have transport. Transport in the likes of horse-wagons. So, some horses were bought, and wagons built.
The next problem arose. Who will drive these wagons?
Someone had seen a mass of people transporting goods from one village to another in bullock-carts.
So, a few men, who had been seen driving those carts were enlisted for driving the horse-wagons.
The men agreed.
Soon, it was time for the first drive. (if I may say so)
More people were arriving from Britain and they wanted transport from the port. Consequently, the newly enlisted bullock-cart drivers – turned Coachmen were sent to pick the people from the port.
The chief among the people who just arrived decided to board the more grander wagon, with a beautiful horse. The wagon looked good, but there was only one problem with it.
A problem the chief would come to know only after a while.
After the entire party had settled down into various wagons, the chief yelled, “Let’s go!”
The Coachman agreed and the horses began trotting.
Slowly, they started picking up speed, again and again, till they were galloping in full speed.
Meanwhile, the chief asked the Coachman, while pointing into the distance, “What is the name of the place we are going to?”
The coachman, who did not have a good grasp over the English language answered, “This Mani, this Rasa”, thinking that the foreign gentleman had been asking what the names of the horses were.
The horses sped up even more, now that the coachman had been busy trying to understand what the foreigner chief had said and trying to formulate a suitable response.
That’s when he realised that he’d lost control of the carriage.
The carriage went berserk and the colonialist was thrown back and forth against the walls of the carriage, so, he yelled, “This is not Mannytisras, this is Madness!”
And slowly, Madness evolved into Madras, and that name stuck.
P.S. This is totally fiction and meant to be taken as such. I do not mean to hurt anyone’s sentiments and such.