December 24, 2010

It's Christmas time!

There is a bit of the Moore Market spirit at this shop in George Town. And for people who rewind to the past, Moore Market brings fond memories especially at Christmas time.

Good Pastor Depot is something of an institution in its own way. A destination for many senior Catholics of this city.

Located on the ground floor of the huge building behind the landmark Catholic Centre and in the campus of the heritage St. Mary's Co-Cathedral and its neighbour, the equally famed St. Mary's School, this depot as it is called, has everything that a home and a church requires, for religious and for social functions.

I was there a few days ago, on a shopping spree.

A crib set, a little Christmas tree, balloons, illumination serial lights, some buntings and greeting cards.

This is quite a big shopping list by my standards but I enjoyed the experience.

The Brothers of St. Paul, who run this store were swamped that afternoon but they served with a smile as did their staff who were really stretched.

Wonder how cool they would have been today, on Christmas eve!

Shops like these weave magic around you if you suspend your matured ideas! Shops that our kids would love to soak in.

I had waded through the swathes of devotees who head to the cathedral on Tuesdays to pray at the shrine of saint Antony, managed a parking lot inside the Catholic Centre and rewarded myself with extra time at the Good Pastor Depot.

It was a nice experience.

In the old days, the Community Hall on this campus hosted wonderful parties, dances and wedding receptions.

The parish priest says they do not hire out the hall for such functions any more.

Christmas has moved to the five star hotels and swank malls. Not for me, these places.

December 18, 2010

San Thome Christmas fest

Putting together a community event or project is not easy in this city.

Not everyone believes there is a role to play in the public space.

A small bunch of people who reside in the San Thome neighbourhood are trying to promote a Christmas event.

This will be the second edition of this festival.

The ideas are small, the goals small. But the effort has to be sustained.

Two women have taken the lead to lend a hand.

Vimala Padmaraj and Sheela D’Souza were part of the team last year. They are on this year too despite the many commitments they have at Christmastime.

This may not be very obvious in San Thome though it is in Mylapore.

Just as many people who live abroad head to Madras on Christmas eve to soak in the

Margazhi music and dance season, a small number also fly in to the city to spend Christmas and New Year with their families in San Thome.

San Thome had a wonderful December season decades ago. Migration of many families led to a decline in the festivities.

The more recent community effort is to allow residents here and others to soak in the season’s spirit, even if you are not a Christian.

Vimala and Sheela are doing all they can to run three events that have been planned.

A party-games-contest mela for children will take place on December 26 afternoon and the team hopes all the children of San Thome and Mylapore and areas on the fringe will sign up (you can call 98846 88984) and have a party!

There is also a Christmas party for senior people. Music, games, eats and fellowship are on the cards. You can call the cell number given above to register. This will be on December 27 evening.

The Revival Singers of San Thome are also doing their best to present a grand music concert in San Thome on December 26 evening. They have invited a band of talented young musicians who will rock the place after the Singers have done their Christmas act.

There should be snacks stalls at the venue - St. Bede’s school campus.

Besides the events, Anthony and his friends of San Thome are coaxing owners of stores and residents on San Thome High Road to illuminate the spaces this season.

Hopefully, the spirit of Christmas will be infectious.

December 04, 2010

Christmas party at San Thome

This was unexpected. But welcome. Who would run away from a party?

My first Christmas party for the season arrived at a time I least expected.

On Thursday.

It happened at St. Bede’s that evening.

Vincent Felix always makes it a point to invite me to events at this over-a-century old school. I am glad I accepted his call earlier this week.

Vincent is among the few ‘old boys’ of this Anglo-Indian school who studied here in the 40s. He is 84 (he passed out of school before India became independent) and he has lots of San Thome and Mylapore stories to share.

And when he shares them on the sprawling grounds of St. Bede’s where boarders play vigorous games of hockey and basketball until dusk, these stories come alive.

On Thursday he told me how he was the only dayscholar among seven boarders in senior school who were caught redhanded by the Rector on the beachside, for enjoying the company of the girl-students from other city schools who had to write their final exams at St. Bede’s!

“Today, we celebrate Mother Mary’s birthday so I am sparing you the flogging,” the padre had told the boys. “But you will have to clean the chapel as reparation.”

It was a great evening - for Vincent Felix and members of the Old Bedeans (the alumni) had put together a Christmas party for the boarders, all Anglo-Indians.

There was music, they had Santa, there was a Christmas tree and the boys sang a few carols. And they roared when all of them got gifts, bought by the alumni.

And when the special biryani was served, the boys were the happiest lot present.

The padres were also there and it was a perfect Christmas party.

I only wish the boys’ band had time to perform after dinner. But then, there are rules to follow in a boarding. The show had to close.

For the Old Bedeans present it was indeed a wonderful evening.

Hopefully, there will be many such evenings this Christmas for you.