August 26, 2006

Madras Day : the true spirit

'Madras Day' has touched people in the USA.
Numismatist and history buff D. Hemachandra Rao, who, with Raja Seetharaman, put up a fantastic exhibition of coins, postal stationery, pictures, books and maps at 'Clive House' inside Fort St. George this past week, gets a call late at night.
The caller is Rao's longtime friend and brother coin-collector.
A. C. Triloknath has been visting his family and relatives in the USA. He jumps out of his seat while watching the TV coverage of 'Madras Day' and gets to see Rao in the clips on the 'Clive House' show.
Impressed and emotional, he makes that long distance call and offers a donation of one thousand and one rupees. For the 'Madras Day' cause.
Just what we hoped would happen in the years ahead.
That the celebration of a city should motivate its people to do their own thing.
I accompany a colleague to the 'Live Heritage Projects for Schools' show for the north Chennai region. At a wedding hall near Toll Gate, about sixteen school teams who have toiled since 9am that morning await our arrival. The hall comes alive when we enter this place, every school team is eager to tell us about the work that they did to put up each project on a local landmark or their own neighbouhood.
One team stuns us. Makes us smile. Makes me cry inside.
The team from The Saivite Middle School of Vallalar Nagar.
Theirs is a brilliant and unique project - with models, charts, vintage pictures and song, the team of A. Balaji, V. Pavitra, Md. Salman Sheriff and R. Geethanjali trace the story of their own school which will be 100 years old next year!
And they begin their presentation with a 'villupattu' and bring all their companions inside the hall - teachers, students and onlookers - to their nook here.
Sheriff hits the right notes, like a trained performer on stage. The string breaks but he carries on and his teacher keeps it taut by winding it around her palm.
For all of us who have been encouraging people, groups, volunteers, hosts and artistes and people for the 'Madras Day', this single incident may truly be the spirit of the celebration of this city we call Madras or Chennai.
It has truly been a wonderful community event this past week.(If you still have not soaked in it, check out the weekend events at
And we get the feeling that this could well be the start of a unique city event.

1 comment:

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