December 30, 2007

Mylapore Festival 2008 - Curtain Raiser II

What does it take to host a cultural fest in public spaces?
Perseverance, guts, resilience and a pair of strong legs!
As we do our final acts to launch yet another edition of the Mylapore Festical supported by Sundaram Finance, we, as the owners of this event have a hundred
things to do this weekend.
Here is what I jotted down for my blog on
It was a Wednesday evening.
Lady Sivaswami Girls' School would like to rent their hall to us for some events but postponed exams cast a doubt on letting it out on weekdays.
Outside, the muck which stagnated because of blocked drains is now like layers of dirt cakes.
The contractors overseeing the project of a new R R Sabha are wonderful.
They promise to clear the blue metal and red bricks for our fest. God bless you folks.
Across the street, a civil promoter has got his men to hammer the steel in the middle and has dumped blue metal all over.
Thankfully, the promoter arrives on the scene and promises to clear the place for our Fest. God bless you sir!
Further on, we are anxious to find out if a well-meaning staff of the temple has pruned the saplings he planted along the temple tank.
Yes, he has and promises not to bother us for some time.
God bless him too.
We walk down East Mada Street. Potholes. Bitumen. Metal pieces.
And we worry how we should clean the mada veedhi to let the 200 plus women enjoy drawing kolams next weekend.
I tarry here. And see a gaping hole in the façade of the street. An old house has been demolished and the debris cleared.
Little boys play cricket.
Wow! What a place to have puppetry shows for our Fest!

December 22, 2007

Mylapore Fest 2008: Curtain Raiser

What comes after Christmas and New Year?
The Mylapore Festival!
Between carol concerts and plans to take in the fresh air on the East Coast Road on the first day of the New Year, my team and I have one hundred and one things to do to launch the 2008 edition of the 'Mylapore Festival'.
The main shows are in order.
But there are two dozen other things to be done.
Ensure security for the 'puli vesham' folk dance performance on the weekend. The artistes play around with a bit of fire too!
Should we run the Theru-koothu show of our friends from Kanchipuram district into the night?
How do we manage the huge crowd of devotees that throng the Sri Kapali temple for 'sani prodosham' ?
And will the teams engaged in the Mylapore Treasure Hunt be able to negotiate the polluted Buckingham Canal or should we give them an easy way out through the bridge?
Every December, we have a roller-coaster ride that leaves us drop dead on Pongal eve. What started off as a simple kolam contest that 'Mylapore Times' hosted for the neighbourhood in a school playground over a decade ago, has grown into this Fest.
Sponsored by 'Sundaram Finance', the Fest continues to grow.
Like the kolam contest which now attracts at least 250 people from all over the city, we hope that the Pallankuzhi Contests will get popular from this launch year.
I was amazed at the enthusiasm many young people have shown at the coaching camps we had and I hope seniors will flood the hall on that weekend.
Do get the word across to all your friends and come along.
The info is now posted on a web site -
On a blog linked to this web site, I share little stories of our experiences.
Check that out too. And feel free to comment, with grace.

December 15, 2007

Santa's job is real tough . . .

Finding a person to play Santa is real difficult.
Even if you want to pay him for the job.
Is it because there aren't many people around
to liven up people's lives?
Fr. Joe Andrew came to my rescue this week.
No, this Salesian priest isn't going to play that role. He loves giving sermons using Power Point visuals and graphics and is much in demand for the Christmas season.
Fr. Joe got us two young men who used to board and study at his school in San Thome to be part of our season's offer to bring Santa to the houses of people who wish to surprise their children. Or their loved ones.
Community newspapers - Adyar Times, Mylapore Times, Arcot Road Times and Velachery Plus - introduced this facility a few years ago when I realised how happy children were when they got gifts from Santa.
I guess today's generation would prefer to gift online.
Not in all cases.
Yes, there may be families who do not want to open their doors after 10 pm and Santa has to retreat to a chai shop down the road.
I can imagine their anxiety what with rogues coming in different veshams and conning people with their eyes wide open!
Santa's is a difficult assignment. Hard work.
There are people who want him to take the lift to the fourth floor, negotiate the corridors and do a jig in their drawing room.
This is a painful task even for a young man in our day when every other address is a multi-storeyed apartment block.
This year though, we have been getting calls from Homes for seniors, crèches and daycare centres.
Would we be able to send Santa to other neighbourhoods and arrange for gifts to be given to people there?
We would love to. Maybe next year we will try to reach out.
We will need two Santas. Got to start advertising that job early!

December 07, 2007

Christmastime in Chennai

Be it a Blackberry, a diary or a pocket notebook, you may need to fill in your calendar more often in December.
That is if you are an 'outdoor' person. A person who loves to go to a concert, join a heritage walk or dine out on the East Coast Road.
I maintain two columns in my diary.
One is for the December Season of music and dance. The other is for Christmas celebrations.
And I make time for the latter. For obvious reasons.
The best thing about Christmas is the music.
One single note can signal this season. And if you haven't been to a carol concert, I request you to go for just one.
This weekend, I will have to be at St. Marys at the Fort.
I have to be.
Last year, we zipped across the city, fought the traffic on the Marina and leapt into the nothingness of the fort on a holiday weekend. Only to hear the fading notes of the last carol.
The sound of music at St. Marys is heavenly.
Whenver we take people on our heritage walks around the Fort, the lucky ones get to listen to the music of the organ as the choir prepares for Sunday Service. It is the biggest bonus for the walkers. And I suggest to them that they be on another Sunday.
If the Fort is too distant for you, you should check out the MCC's show at the MCC School in Chetput this week.
5000 people gather in front of the giant, decorated stage to listen to over a dozen groups perform on two evenings.
Someone should ask the Southern Railways to suspend operations on the Egmore-Nungambakkam rail section for those hours! And leave us all to soak in the carols.
The tradition of choir groups visiting homes after dusk and past midnight and singing in the drawing rooms has waned.
It had a Santa Claus magic to it. Today, the kids meet Santa in the malls.
I must make one entry in my diary now. A visit to Deepak's apartment in Mandavelipakkam.
Every year, this young man, working for a BPO, presents a sound and light show on the birth of Jesus in his drawing room.
Deepak recorded a Thamizh sound track a few years ago, in addition to the English, to help his neighbours enjoy the story.
For his effort, this time around, I should sing a Christmas carol for Deepak's family.