April 29, 2013

Bangalore's Ramanavami, IPL and Elections

Lots of music, growing political campaigns and IPL fever.
This is indeed an extreme cocktail but Bangalore is being offered it this April.
And for me, as journalist and observer of all that spins around us, this is heady and interesting.
The RCB ( Royal Challengers Bangalore) seems to have built a huge fan base, with the city rooting for it all the time. The stands at the Chinnaswamy stadium are packed to the gills and it is best to avoid being on the roads before and after a match.
On Saturday last, as RCB prepared to face a top-of-the-table RR ( Rajasthan Royals) at a late evening match swathes of fans, all armed with the red flags headed to the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
This is one community that loves the IPL action and its team and is behind it even on weekdays!
Another set of flags are slowly going up in neighbourhoods. Karnataka is preparing for early May elections to its state Assembly. The campaigns are
taking off slowly. Though the banners and posters are far between, the presence of more parties means there will be more flags.
What interests me is the presence and campaign of some young professionals who are in the fray. Some are under the banner of the Lok Satta party.
I had looked at similar efforts in the elections in Tamil Nadu and at candidates in our city neighborhoods.
Bangalore may throw up interesting ideas.
In the midst of the cricket and the elections is the classical music community.
This is the time of the Sri Ramanavami Music Festival season and Bangalore’s rasikas and mandalis are getting bigger and better.
The best and the talented perform across the city and since the city has expanded from one ‘halli’ to another, each has its own home-grown arts body.
So ‘chitravina’ Ravi Kiran and Gayatri Venkatraghavan perform in the city centre one evening and move to the west/east the next! Much like the
December season.
We at KutcheriBuzz are blogging Bangalore’s Sri Ramanavami Music Fest. Posting stories, reviews and the buzz. (www.ramanavamimusic.blogspot.in )

April 20, 2013

Cycling down Mount Road

Got a bicycle and keen to explore this city?

You may want to sign up for a Tour of Mount Road that Cycling Yogi has organized on Sunday (April 21 morning) on the occasion of World Heritage Day ( April 18).

The yogi is a young man called Ramanujar Moulana. And we appreciate this effort because it comes from within and it celebrates our heritage.

The yogi has made a few recce trips already, has got 20 registrations and has space for another 20. And this is indeed impressive.

The idea is to start at the '0' point just outside the western side of Fort St George, cycle down what was the Queen of Madras' roads and end where the legs can pedal you to!

There will be many stops - to stare at all the historic landmarks and heritage buildings on this road. Two photographers are tagging along too.

The group will share local stories and histories. Ramanujar has sweated it out to get permission from the Kings Institute in Guindy to explore this landmark campus and there will be other nooks which can surprise.

I wondered if the young men could pedal their way up St Thomas Mount - ending the trip with breakfast on the mount and a grand view of this city would be a nice bonus.

Though they will be very disheartened to see modern trappings and more excavations for new structures on the mount, all created by the local Catholic Church which seems to have little respect for heritage.

I am hoping the Cycling Yogi group organizes more such tours of the city and keeps the idea going. The last time it hosted a tour for the Madras Week celebrations, the huge assembly at the Gandhi statue point on the Marina rattled a sharp policeman on his beat. Ramanujar had to press his line to me at 5 a.m. to assure the cop that the group was a harmless bunch!

One other bunch who I hope will explore the south end of Mount Road is Sowmya Swaminathan & Co., active on the Chennai Bloggers Club. Residents of Chrompet, I designed a rough guide for them to explore this hol - the quaint Veteran Lines colony located off Pallavaram and St Thomas Mount.

It is 39 degrees alright but holidays are the best time to explore this city. Do it in small groups. If you want tips, mail me ( vincentsjottings@gmail.com)

April 13, 2013

Sunday Mass, Degree Coffee and Harley Davidsons

Attending Holy Mass on Sundays at different churches is an experience. Many Catholics do so nowadays.

The concept of parish community broke down some time ago - of people in an area attending services at the designated church in the parish zone.

The change happened for various reasons. Some for convenience, others out of an attachment to a place or the nature of services. And some others to undertake a pilgrimage or keep a vow.

Last Sunday, I made a pit stop at a church dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes in Muttukkadu, metres before the boating yard on the ECR.

A small congregation was at the Mass in Thamizh and through the hour-long service the power went off and on and off and on. Priests use the Sunday service platform to also talk to the community and this Sunday, before the final blessing the young priest here told his flock how families could go about calling him over when they required him and how he could be of help to them.

It was past 9.30 and I was hungry. Yards away we located a new joint - Kumbakonam Degree Coffee.

The Degree Coffee outlets have popped up on all our highways, seemingly in a hurry to beat the Café Coffee Days at its own game. This one opposite the Kanathur Police Station even had its logo registered.

There was a Dosa Hut next door. As we feasted on onion uthappam, the spectacle on the ECR changed before us.

Waves of bikers and cyclists swept down the road. All of them in heavy gear, enjoying their Sunday drive. They drove in groups, some very determined and mostly cautious, respecting the rules of the road.

ECR is not the best highway for these outdoor enthusiasts. With mounting accidents, the local police have installed dividers every 50 metres and no biker would like those hurdles as he revs up on a scenic highway.

The community of bikers and cyclists is growing in this city. Even the Harley Davidson tribe is big. Thanks to social media the communities form fast and grow well.

Some do the Madras-Pondy lap once a month. Some prefer a run to Mahabs and back.

All of them though make good use of the ECR. And some have found the Degree Coffee joints welcome pit-stops.

April 06, 2013

IPL, Amma Unavagam and seniors!

Are you a IPL fan and is your April about to change?

I watch the IPL matches on TV when I find time. And I hope to get to Chepauk one of these April days to watch  Chennai Super Kings on the field.

I haven't been at the new look stadium ever since a section was renovated and redesigned though recently, friend Venkat took us to the 'D' stand one night.

Venkat runs a cricket coaching academy inside the campus of the Madrasa-e-Azam School off Mount Road, at the Spencer's Roundabout and has turned out some good talent among the juniors.

He  will be our host when we decide to make it to a T20 this month.

Some hardcore packaging and marketing is going on by the owners of the Chennai Super Kings. And one unconfirmed plan which was in the buzz was its idea to host seniors at Chepauk for a fee.

The idea seems to have taken shape after some seniors said that getting to the stadium and finding a seat was not as easy and cool as it used to be when they were young and Tests were the staple games of the day.

I think this is a good idea. And will work.

There are lots of young people who live abroad who want to reserve tickets and give their parents here the opportunity to have a good time or even relive their young days at Chepauk. A CSK offer and the online facility makes these things so simple.

Yes, everybody in business is looking at the huge young India.

But don't forget the seniors who also form a huge community today.

I am trying to imagine the key services that ought to have been in place in all our neighborhoods.

I recall a time when Adyar-based sabha, Hamsadhwani's founder late RR ( Ramachandran), wanted to set up a Community Kitchen and Health service for seniors.

Is this a facility that a NGO or a commun ity body can execute?

A fortnight ago, a couple who run a 'mess' in Mylapore had a story to share - there was a time not so long ago when they used to supply 'sapad' at the doorstep of 200 seniors. They suspended it recently because they could not get delivery people to stay with the job.

Now, the couple host 30 plus seniors for lunch at the 'mess'.

Is there an idea to take from the ' Amma Unavagam' in each ward of this city? An idea that is for seniors only and starts with food and health?