REPORTING AT DAWN

Reporting Assignment – (Eco Park, Chetpet Lake)

Chennai, March 4: As the reporting module by Radhakrishnan Rariyam went on to its second week, I became more accustomed to his style of correction and tried avoiding the errors I had made in my previous assignments.

Since each group gets only two weeks with a respective teacher in the final trimester at Asian College of Journalism, I decided to make use of as much opportunity I got with RK Sir. Having got my story idea approved on Wednesday itself, I decided to act fast and get my reporting done as quickly as possible.

The story that I chose for the fourth assignment was about the new Eco Park that was inaugurated by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa around Chetpet Lake last week. I had decided to write on the facilities offered by the new park and what the Chennai public felt about the latest hangout spot in their city.

The Chetpet Lake was in bad shape before the revamp took place. It had overgrown vegetation and was used by the nearby slum-dwellers as a dumpster. The Eco Park, built at a cost of Rs. 42 crore promises to give Chennaites a new eco space where joggers can walk and the evening crowd can relax.

Chetpet Eco Park, run by Department of Fisheries, Government of Tamil Nadu
Chetpet Eco Park.

Having decided to do my assignment in two parts, I left for Chetpet on a local train from Guindy on Wednesday evening to catch the local revelers before the park shut down at 6. I met the enthusiasts who were having a fun time at the park; some were boating in the lake, while some were trying to catch fish in the Chetpet aeri, while others were simply sipping coffee at the café in the park. I returned to my hostel after that and decided to catch the morning walkers at the park next morning.

Since I had to leave for Chetpet Lake early morning on Thursday, I made arrangements for a scooter from one of my classmates beforehand. I put an alarm for 4 am and went off to sleep.

Next morning, I woke up early, got ready and left for Chetpet around 4:30 am. The Eco Park is a 15 km journey from my college and it was the first time I had driven around the city at this early hour.

The sun hadn’t risen and the streetlights were still on. There was a slight nip in the air as I drove at high speed on the empty roads. Crossing the Sardar Patel Road, I could see TASMAC shop owners emptying their crates and putting the empty bottles in trucks. As I drove on the Gandhi Mandappam Road, I could see trucks delivering newspapers to the vendors.

FB Final 1
Entrance to the Eco Park.

Dawn was breaking as I sped away. Probably the first time in Chennai, when I didn’t have to wait at any traffic signals. Trucks were racing as they aimed to cross the city limits before 6 am.

Crossing the Adyar River early in the morning was a sight to behold. Even though the water was filthy, the cold breeze made me park the scooter by the side and wait for a while.

I reached Chetpet Lake in 15 minutes, a journey that could have taken me over an hour had I driven at the peak office hour. I parked my scooter and met the morning walkers. Senior citizens wearing running shoes and walking briskly around the lake, parents with their children jogging and students exercising made up the scene at the park.

Chetpet Lake as seen from Dr. Guruswamy Bridge
Chetpet Eco Park as seen from Dr. Guruswamy Bridge in Chetpet.

I asked a few elderly people on how they felt about the new park that has come up. Some told me that it’s a good step, while others said that more such parks should come up in the city.

I took a few quotes from the joggers for my story, came out and had coconut water from outside the park. I look at my watch; it was close to 7 am. I kick started my scooter, and returned to the hostel.

The journey and the reporting part were over, but filing the report was task still left. The day had just begun!

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