January 07, 2012

Have Elai sapad at a Mylapore traditional house

This Sunday, I will be looking forward to a call from the Srikanths. The call is important because I will want to know how a simple idea worked that afternoon.
Every edition of the annual Mylapore Festival which got underway on Thursday, presents an idea, an event which could be significant at a bigger level.

The idea of serving guests the traditional 'elai sapad' in a traditional setting.

On Sunday, the Srikanths will hopefully play host to four groups who are booking for lunch at their Madras-tiled house off Devadi Street in Mylapore.

The house, over 100 years old and a vestige of the times when Muslims populated this neighbourhood is a nice setting for people who like going back to the past!

The 'elai sapad' idea was shared by senior IAS officer Sheela Rani Chunkanth, who now heads the TN Handicrafts Corporation. We took it up but it was not easy to get it going. Many people who we wanted to play host were tentative, unsure or simply private.

Such ideas can work only if we are proud of our heritage, are creative and enjoy sharing hospitality with people we may not have met before.

The Srikanths almost pushed us to collaborate. And we hope the idea works. For, if its does then we intend to use this example to motivate a few other families in the heritage zones of Mylapore-Triplicane to offer 'sapad' at lunchtime or 'tiffin' in the evening to people and tourists and showcase what is truly Madras.

Many years ago, we launched the 'mikeless' concerts at Nageswara Rao Park in Luz, as part of the Mylapore Festival. Sundaram Finance, which sponsors our Fest has taken it forward and hosts such concerts once a month at this park. Two other bodies host similar events elsewhere.

The Mylapore Festival then is not just about having 30 events at ten venues across 4 days. It is also about floating ideas, experimenting with small events and envisioning larger projects.

How do we creatively use the Sri Kapali Temple precincts keeping in mind local businesses, traffic flow, residents' interests and surviving heritage so that the outcome is wonderful?

If you have ideas too, do share them.

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