July 15, 2006

Madras Day: Countdown begins

This is for the women.

Did you in your teenage days at any time lock yourself up in your room and get into the clothes of your brother or a cousin?

If these memories flood you now and you break into a smile, imagine the reaction of a young man who is greeted at an exhibition by a photo of his mom dressed in men’s clothes at an event that took place when she was in her 20s!

Thankfully, this young man joked about it to the visitors and even told them the tale of his mom and her girl friends in Perambur who dressed fashionable menswear and posed like an all-girls band, Beatles style!

This unique picture was my favourite pick at this exhibition curated and held as part of the ongoing ‘Anglo-Scapes’ fest which ends this Sunday.

The fest also featured the well known writer I. Allan Sealy, who lives in Dehra Dhun ( author of ‘Trotter Namma’ and the more recent ‘Red’). Sealy was in Madras for many days, soaking in the city, and one morning I volunteered to be his guide as we went off on a walk through the old parts of Mylapore and San Thome.

We were lucky to gain entry to the unkempt campus of The Music College, off Greenways Road, and explore the magnificient Brodies Castle - one of the first garden houses that the British built as they moved away from Fort St. George, and then the Great Plains, and built large bungalows on the banks of the Adyar.

I have been to a few kutcheris hosted by the college and held in what must have been the ballroom of Brodies, and these have been heavenly pleasures even in the early afternoons.

The Adyar may not run deep and its life depends on the vagaries of the sea and its tides, but with the river as the backdrop, this is a great setting for ‘kutcheris’. The castle is being repaired now - but only after it had gone to seed!

The old and new neighbourhoods of our city will be the focus of another celebration that is coming up in August.

The ‘Madras Day’ celebrates the founding of this city, once known as Madras, its past and its present.

An idea which was inspired by the city historian and writer, S. Muthiah, the ‘Madras Day’ has gathered momentum these past two years. And it seems to interest more and more people and communities when the idea is broached and expanded.

The first of the events has been launched - a contest on English song lyrics devoted to this city. More will follow.

If you belong to an organisation or community which is passionate about this city, there is a lot you too can do. Visit the web site (www.themadrasday.in) for background and information. And draw up your plans.

Meanwhile, if music/movies is your elixir, be at the final shows of ‘Anglo-Scapes’ this weekend.

A jazz music concert at The Music Academy on Saturday and a film at Satyam Cinemas on Sunday. If you make it and want to tell me about these shows, do that at my blog.

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