In the 50s and 60s, crossing the Adyar Bridge was like travelling to another ooru. Adyar itself was a very cosmopolitan place when compared to neighbourhoods like Mylapore, Chintadaripet or Triplicane. Each of these localities had its own cultural identities. But in all the residential areas of Madras, it was difficult to see people on the streets after 8 pm.
Adyar had a flavour vastly different from the rest of Madras. The Theosophical Society and Kalakshetra (located in Adyar then) created a distinct and unique ambience in Adyar. I think they made the ideals of universal brotherhood and the spiritual power of the arts an everyday reality for the Adyar residents.
Many foreigners - Spanish, Colombian, British, Belgian, Kenyan and Dutch - visited or worked at the Theosophical Society. Kalakshetra too had its share of these people from other parts of the world. Rukmini Devi's assistant was a lady Belgian, the lighting expert was from the Netherlands. Students came from all parts of the globe. At one time, Adyar housed a community of Tibetan refugees.
Adyar afforded a great deal of freedom to women. Women cyclists in practice costumes for Bharatanatyam were a common sight. Many Adyar women were well educated and some had been involved in the freedom struggle. Compared to the more traditional women in other parts of the city the Adyar women could be called modern.
Adyar was beautiful. It had rows and rows of banyan trees and rain trees lining the roads. The birds were amazing - hoopoes, kingfishers and drongos were everyday sights, you could glimpse the paradise flycatcher trailing its spectacularly long tail through the trees. Elliot's beach was a lonely, scary spot, full of whispering casuarina groves. Adyar was so silent that you could hear the waves everywhere. Yes, Adyar could have been a dream world!