A few days ago, a little piece of paper was stuck on the walls of Thiruvananthapuramâ€™s favourite street â€“ Manaveeyam Veedhi. The lane, tucked between two busy roads in Vellayambalam, would be renovated.
Passersby stopped. This was not just any other lane in-between. This is where artistes would gather and perform every Sunday evening, where pictures were drawn, books were read and songs sung. This is where films got screened and plays were staged. An ordinary road that had somehow turned into a cultural hub when it got the name Manaveeyam Veedhi 17 years ago.
The stretch would still be left to the public, to perform, to showcase their creativity. Perhaps every day. Perhaps with both the sides closed to traffic, so there will not be disruptions any longer.
The notice stuck on the wall is an initiative by the District Tourism Promotion Council, Thiruvananthapuram. It is a joint venture of the State Tourism Department, Department of Culture, Thiruvananthapuram Corporation and the district administration. They have invited suggestions and opinions from art and cultural organisations, artistes, and the public.
The Manaveeyam Theruvorakoottam, a group that puts together the weekly programmes on the street, had submitted a detailed project proposal to the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation two years ago. It was prepared by an expert group led by Dr Manoj Kini, Faculty Member and Programme in Charge(Urban Design), College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram. â€śThe final project will be based on this two-year-old proposal and other ideas that will reach the district collector now,â€ť says a post published by Manaveeyam Theruvorakkoottam.
Women's groups who use the lane for many gatherings are also sending their suggestions. This includes the Women's Collective, Thiruvananthapuram Women Writers Forum, Idam, Pavizhamalli, Network of Women in Media, and Vanitha Kala Sahithi.
The lane is where a Neermathalam tree was planted in memory of the late writer Madhavikutty and where women gather to express their concerns, worries, and also protest. It is also a place of book releases and other little celebrations, says the note that the women's groups have sent to the collector. Their suggestions include maintaining a green cover in the street, with flowers and trees, and water and resting spots for the tired passersby.
Many other groups have also written to the authorities. The Indus Cycling Embassy, a group that promotes cycling among young people, especially girls, has organised various cycle rallies starting from the Manaveeyam Lane. They too are asking for it to be declared a green corridor with rain shelters and allowing all cycling events. They also ask for the formation of a committee consisting of artists, cultural activists, writers, cyclists, environmentalists, district administrators and the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation representatives to supervise and manage all the activities in the street.