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Schools of excellence

Charuhasan’s reference to Loyola College and Sterling Road (“When the living was easy”, MetroPlus, April 1) reminded me of the educational institutions that existed in Nungambakkam in the 1930s. It had excellent educational institu tions right from elementary schools to colleges. It included Corporation schools for boys and girls, the Good Shepherd Convent, the Vidyodaya Girls School (later shifted to T. Nagar), the WCC and Loyola College. Most Englishmen serving in the Indian Civil Service and as judges in the Madras High Court had palatial residences on Nungambakkam High Road, College Road, Haddows Road and Anderson Road, apart from Sterling Road, where a number of Railway officers lived.

M. S. Jayaraman

Nandanam

Father Lee’s snake?

Charuhasan’s recollection (MetroPlus, April 1) brought back many pleasant memories of Loyola College, where I studied a decade after Charuhasan did. As one of the marvels there, Charuhasan mentions the boa constrictor Father Lee kept as a pe t. The name, Father Lee is, I think, a slip of the pen. Probably Charuhasan had in mind Father Charles Leigh aka Snake Father! Speaking of snakes, Fr. Leigh writes: “My name is found several times in the ‘Fauna of British India’ — not as a newly discovered reptile (!) but as an authority on snakes. I wrote a series of articles for the Madras Mail, enough to make a book if reprinted…”

Fr.Lawrence Sundaram in his biographical sketch of Fr. Leigh (Anjali, 1993), says: “These essays (by Fr.Leigh) illustrate another side of his life…his reputed knowledge of snakes…by a strange irony, Fr.Leigh was known all over India and even beyond, as the Snake-Father! A photo of him with four pythons round his neck found its way to Rome and appeared in the Vatican paper, front page, enlarged. From there it found its way into many countries…” Thank you, Charuhasan, for transporting me from the grim reality of old age to the halcyon days of my youth.

N. Sreedharan

Chennai-33

Correction: In the same article, Ambi’s Cafe on Broadway was wrongly mentioned as Ambika Hotel. The error is regretted.

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