June 25, 2011

Solar panels at street corners?

A few days ago, there was a little drama that took place on the main road where the office of the Mylapore Times is located.
Black jelly spurted from the tarred road, flames shot up, the smell of burning wires enveloped the place and smoke swirled up.
Once again the local power cable which supplies power to our building which is set in a complex owned by Chennai Corporation had crumbled, unable to handle the load required to keep over 30 shops and offices going.
The impatient, evening rush-hour traffic smothered the drama and we resigned to the inevitable - working in the sweltering heat and under emergency lamps and in candle-light.
We have learnt to work around the daily dose of hour-long power cuts. And when the unofficial ones strike us, I some times choose to go up to the terrace and sit under the canopy of a Rain Tree that rises from the neighbour's compound and spreads across our terrace.
If the sea breeze sets in in the afternoon this is the place to be.
During one recent break on the terrace, I mused over the idea of fixing solar panels to draw natural power for our Macs and making little of the current power crisis.
Perhaps, if we did this we could convince a few others in this complex to adopt the technology. And get the Chennai Corporation Commissioner to acknowledge this effort!
There are a few simple ways in which civic and community issues can be addressed locally.
The effort is missing or is rather lame.
Recently, a resident of the Adyar neighbourhood wrote to the 'Adyar Times' newspaper to highlight the practise of local shops using all the lights and neon signs they had fixed inside and outside their shops at a time when we are facing a sever power crisis.
This was a timely point to make.
But did the Electricity Board officials of Adyar get to read this letter?
If they had, they could have started an informal campaign to coax shops to switch off their 'decorative' and promotional lighting and thus save some power.

June 18, 2011

Madras Week 2011: how can you celebrate?

A small group has a date to keep in June. It is the group which catalyses all that goes on in the name of Madras Day.
Madras Day, for those who are new to the celebration is an annual event which attempts to celebrate the founding of this city of ours and all that it stands for.
What began as a simple, one - day event some years ago is now a unique celebration which hosts close to 100 events that it is now covers over a week.
So we now choose to rename Madras Day as Madras Week!
The Madras Day group's June meeting is for brainstorming. To think of core events, to list resources and people who can contribute, to share ideas on how to grow . . .
The 2011 edition of Madras Week is to be celebrated from August 21 to 28 since August 22 is now observed as Madras Day (the day a deal is said to have been signed between the local ruler and a rep of the Company to own a piece of sandy land which grew into Fort St. George and led to the formation of this city).
We are very keen to get lots of communities and groups involved this year and hence, getting the word across as early as we can to set the ball rolling.
It is all about sharing, networking and putting hands together.
IT professional and writer Pradeep Chakravarthy is best known for his tours of temples where he taps into records and inscriptions to tell stories. Now Pradeep is sparing time to give talks at a few city schools and take a few student-groups on walking tours in south Madras.
Writer-historian V. Sriram has compiled a list of over 20 speakers who can deliver great talks on subjects related to the city. Crime, cinema, temples, archaeology, Gujarati community, the Anglo-Indians, theatre, cricket . . . .and more.
Actor and collector Mohan V. Raman is willing to share his prize collection of postage stamps and Thamizh film and theatre materials to people who will display them carefully. He is also open to invitations for talks " but only if there are at least 30 to 40 keen people in the audience."
But Madras Week needs dozens of passionate people to share, link, network and execute to make this celebration a success.
The unique character of this event is that it is all about people doing their own thing with their own efforts and monies. There are no corporate sponsors, there are no state-driven plans and there is no one single mela.
After all, this is a people's celebration.
So this is the time to invite schools and colleges, clubs and community groups, artists and musicians, bikers and Hashers, Rotarians and Freemasons . . . to plan events that celebrate this city of ours.
Some leads are at www.themadrasday.in. E-mail - madrasday@yahoo.com.

June 11, 2011

Mango Party is a fun idea!

Theatrepeople will be familiar with Ranga Shankara of Bengaluru.

Promoted by the well known actor Arundathi Nag who toiled for years to set up this unique space for theatre, Ranga Shankara which is located in the upscale neighbourhood of J. P. Nagar in Bengaluru is now known across the country and outside.

Plays are held here throughout the month/year though the accent is on Kannada and space is provided to all shades of theatrepeople.

This week, the Ranga Shankara invite in our electronic mail box was for a unique event.

It is hosting its annual Mango Party on June 12.

All you need to do is bring along a kilo of mangoes of your choice and contribute to the mango pool that will be created at this place.

Later, at an appointed time people can gather around, choose the fruits they like and enjoy them even as musicians and actors entertain the guests.

Ranga Shankara is also hosting a special Mango Party only for children and I am sure those who will attend will enjoy it.

This is the kind of fun event that can be a huge hit in a community.

There used to be a small group of vintage Hindi film enthusiasts who met once a month at Elliots Beach in Besant Nagar.

They came from all over the city and each was asked to bring snacks made at home which would be sufficient for the entire group.

The men would devote an hour to singing the evergreen songs they grew up with and then pass the snacks around.

Our neighbourhoods still have some quiet, open, green spaces where communities with ideas and enterprise can gather at least once a month and indulge in creative events.

You don't need sponsorship, you don't need chairs and tables and mikes, you don't even need permission from the local police for they would gladly support such informal events.

But we do need creative people who can use public spaces creatively.

If you or your group has been doing some thing like the Mango Party do let me know.

June 04, 2011

Roar for CSK but support volleyball too!

The roars at Chepauk were deafening last weekend. Chennai Super Kings had won the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League T20 cricket and won it with ease.
Well before the CSK players lifted the trophy parties hit the top and there were lots of people outside the M A Chidambaram cricket stadium and in city clubs and bars showing off their CSK colours.
If the IPL continues to be well managed and presented year after year, it could duplicate the success of international club football.
And our city will have lots of CSK fans who will want to roar more often.
Chepauk was our destination if there were matches on the weekend that we could watch for free in the 70s. The stadium was a fifteen-minute walk from home. Every other youngster in Chepauk and Triplicane could play cricket.
The Egmore stadium was our destination on the other side of the river. It took us 5 minutes to get there from our school if we took the short cut of jumping over the wall that protected the hockey field.
The Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium, as it is called today hosted three intense sports activity. Hockey, volleyball and tennis. A few chess diehards would play games under the shade of the campus trees.
Hockey and volleyball attracted our bunch of schoolboys. While the city hockey league matches began at about 2 p.m. the volleyball court came alive at about 4 p.m.
There was one man who drove everything about volleyball at the Egmore courts and he was a roly-poly man called P. John. He not only nurtured generations of volleyball players but also saw that his Nellai Friends Volleyball Club became legendary.
Everybody who played, cheered or gawked at the games in Egmore knew this man and made sure to be at the matches he organised here.
I am told Nellai Friends is perhaps the oldest such club. It is celebrating its golden jubilee this year. And the celebrations come at a time when the Indian Volley League (IVL) has just been launched and will be in action in our city from this weekend at the Nehru Stadium. Nellai Friends is involved and it wants sports-lovers to be there.
The IVL also needs our support. So if you love sport, make time to be at the stadium. There are some exciting teams in action and volleyball too can excite you like cricket does.