February 10, 2007

Jamming in Pondy

If you are at a loose end this weekend and enjoy a drive, you may want to head to Puducherry.
162 kilometres covered in about 130 minutes on a highway which runs alongside the scenic east coast. The drive itself is exhilarating, not the speed!
For a year now, a musician friend of mine, Sidhartha Patnaik, who has his two feet in three towns - Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru and Puducherry, has been promoting ‘Sec-Sat’ in the former French colony.
‘Sec-Sat’ provids a platform for musicians to perform, with no strings attached.
All forms of music are encouraged. Carnatic, soft rock, heavy metal, blues, Indipop, pettai rap and gana.
You sign up at pondyjam@gmail.com and wait for Sidhartha to wake up at high noon, feast on fruitcakes sold at a bakery run by the Ashramites and reply to the bands in the queue.
Sidhartha just finished presenting the annual Pondy Freedom Jam, a cousin of the hugely popular Freedom Jam in Bangalore.
This year, concerts and shows were held at six different venues on the weekend, including one on the newly-raised beachfront which is the most popular ‘time pass’ destination for all of Pondy and its neighbouring towns.
Sidhartha searched hard for a ‘gana’ specialist group but could not find one and is hoping a ‘gana’ troupe will mail him for next year’s Jam.
Taking a cue, the Tourism Department of Puducherry invited this veteran guitarist to quickly rustle up a band to play at the opening of yet another popular destination of the town - Bharathi Park.
The park has been ‘revitalised’ by INTACH, a body which works on heritage projects, and has made space for all kinds of activities including a stage for concerts.
In the months to come, the park may well be the venue for musicians not only of Puducherry but also from Chennai, if the latter are adventurous and willing.
Our parks can be wonderful spaces for a range of quiet events.
Concerts, readings, yoga, tai chi and art. Or as poet-lyricist Vairamuthu does, for writing lyrics for film songs.
The Corporation of Chennai has invested a lot of money in our parks.
Now it is for communities of the neighbourhood to re-vitalise them.

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