February 25, 2012

Natyanjali 2012

This is that time of the year when my KutcheriBuzz team parks itself at Chidambaram and works out of there.
Besides the December season, it is the annual Natyanjal Dance Fests that we cover very closely.
Our effort to cover the classical dancers' community is stretched at the Natyanjali.

To keep our coverage rolling, we chose to work on a Blog (www.natyanjalidancefestival.blogspot.com). In a networked world, communicating fast is key.

This morning, Vasu Iyengar and Purva Dhanasree from New Delhi offered their anjali at the sannidhi of Lord Nataraja as did many dancers every morning and evening the past five days. These pictures will also be blogged.

A temple like this one in Chidambaram throbs with a variety of rituals, events and gatherings.
This morning, we witnessed the start of a huge rudra homam just outside the sannidhi. Offering the homan was a young Korean who studies Sanskrit and Astronomy at Madurai Kamaraj University. Joining him was his wife, in a classic Conjeevaram sari and two other Korean friends.
It was a special experience - dance on one side, a yagna on the other.

This is also the time of the year when local schools conduct their annual picnic for students.
On East Sannidhi Street, where we are based, we find streams of school groups being led into the temple.
Yesterday, a group from St. Anthony's in Nagapattinam went on a shopping spree after touring the temple.

The rows of hawkers selling Rubik Cubes and toy horses, hair pins and framed pictures of Lord Shiva made a killing. Every student had something to take home. A boy bought a fancy hair-pin for his sister while a girl bought a doctor's toy set for his baby brother back home. The one day picnic will take these students to Pitchavaram, Poompuhar and Tharangabadi ( Tranquebar ). What a trip it must be!

Dancers streaming into the eastern yard for the Natyanjali. Schoolchildren filing out on a picnic jaunt.
Imagine the scene!

February 19, 2012

Mumbai civic elections - things to learn

The Cathedral of the Holy Name of Jesus is tucked away in Mumbai's seaside Colaba area.

The church is also the seat of the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Bombay.

The frescos, pipe organ and various religious pieces and gifts make this a must-see destination for a tourist.

Colaba was once an island, inhabited by the Kolis of the fishing community and the inhabitants of Bombay. The area later came under the reign of the Portuguese.

So Colaba is also a 'must-see' area for the tourist. Once, it was the hangout of the hippies and the backpackers and on 26/11, with the shoot-out at Café Leopold the area was internationally known.

The past three weeks, at the cathedral, there has been a simple but determined campaign.

A campaign to make citizens aware of their voting rights, the dos and donts at a polling booth and basic info on local wards and issues.

You may be aware that the city of Mumbai just had its elections to the Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palike or the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

The BMC's annul budget is about Rs.22,000 crores, perhaps far higher than the budgets of many small states in our country.

For 16 years, the BJP-Shiv Sena combine has been ruling the BMC and the top note during this campaign was 'change'.

However, smaller bodies and communities ran their own campaigns for this election which took place last Thursday.

And almost all the churches besides the cathedral sensitised their communities to the political reality.

Their notice boards carried posters, notes and newspaper clippings.

On the Sunday before the poll, the community even prayed that people would vote for and get good candidates.

Elsewhere, AGNI ( Action for Good Governance and Networking in India) devoted its newsletter called 'Mumbai Meri Jaan' to the poll. It also had its volunteers heading every ward to guide people.

At least two civil society groups put up their own candidates.

It was the quiet but determined campaign that the church in Mumbai encouraged that caught my attention. Mumbai's Catholic community is fairly involved, political and engaged.

The poll was an occasion to get people on the fringe involved and interested.

Chennai's Catholics, or for that matter its communities have much to learn from Mumbai. As far as grassroot politics goes.

February 11, 2012

Anglo Indians Hockey players meet

If sport grabs your attention, you may want to mark this event in your diary.
On February 17 and 18, the second edition of An Anglo-Indian Hockey Tournament will be hosted at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium in Egmore.

Taking part in this unique sports event will be Anglo-Indian teams from across India.

Two great hockey stars will be guests at this event. Trevor Vanderputt, former hockey coach and Leslie Claudius, former Olympic champion.

The event has been conceptualised and presented by 'Anglos in the Wind', a community magazine which celebrates the Anglo-Indian community.

Harry MacLure, editor of this mag which has its base in Anna Nagar says that he planned this event to pay tribute to all the Anglo-Indians who dedicated their lives to hockey as well as to revive the waning passion for the game.

Anglo-Indians starred in the top national teams and in the India teams at a time when the country was the reigning champion at the Olympics.

The stories of the players and the games they played even at the city and zonal level are legion and fascinating.

Harry and his team have taken pains to document and publish these stories and the vintage pictures in a special issue.

Harry seems to have been enthused by the response he and his team received for the first edition of this tournament.

There were a dozen Anglo-Indians from abroad who came to this city to be present at the tourney - many had created a name for themselves in this sport. More are expected this time around.

And to give the event that AI special touch, there is a grand dance and dinner after the tourney at a resort in Thirumullaivoyal.

Hopefully, some stars will emerge from this series of tourneys. Hopefully, such an event will encourage more youngsters of this community to pursue their passion.

That a small effort is being made towards this must be acknowledged.

If you wish to support the cause and join the celebration call Harry at 4208 0058.

February 04, 2012

Track your MLA

Politics, cinema and sport can be a potent mixture.

Especially when you consume much of each back to back.

You have to be up early to catch the Australian Open tennis matches, which are certainly are a better option to the India series in Australia.

News always gets my attention and oftentimes a debate with Subramaniam Swamy and Soli Sorabjee on the side can be thought-provoking or mere drama for that night.

And now, it is Oscars time.

The awards show is not all that important. But some of the movies are must-see flicks. This is the season when channels vie with each other to screen award winning films.

It was good to watch The Pianist on Thursday and there are some specials to catch up this weekend.

I also make it a point to watch excerpts of the business in Parliament and in the Tamil Nadu State Assembly.

Hot air, sonorous speeches and loud drama dominate much of the proceedings but between the banal and the boring, you can zero in on some interesting ideas and debates.

On Thursday, I chose to watch the proceedings at Fort St. George. Now that Jayalalithaa is in power, Jaya TV devotes time to Assembly reportage.

There had been lots of drama in the House that day featuring the Leader of the Opposition, actor Vijaykant who heads the DMDK party and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

Before the drama could spill over, the Speaker managed to get the DMDK team moved out of the House.

A short session on Jayalalithaa's effort to set up a fitness studio for women MLAs in the MLAs Hostel cooled the tempers. Even the Chief Minister smiled more than once.

I had not tuned in to get amused before The Pianist came on on another channel.

I was keen to pick up threads on some issues and projects that we have been following locally and in the region.

But on Thursday night, most statements by MLAs and replies by ministers were snappy.

We are still in the dark on what our local MLAs are doing in the Assembly. They never make an effort to share with our newspapers on what they may have said or extracted when the Assembly is on.

Nor do we get to know if they have been lobbying with ministers for projects or talking to state departments for funds.

Communication seems limited to speaking at local events and responding to SOS calls from the constituency.

How can we engage our MLAs be it in Mylapore or Velachery or Virugambakkam?