June 22, 2013

Portuguese San Thome and Madras Day 2013

Paolo Aranha and Vera Domingues are two research scholars based in two European cities who are encouraging a small group of us interested in the Portuguese histories of Madras.

Paolo, now in Munich has done some work and published a paper or two on a subject that has links to San Thome. Vera was here recently to walk around and talk to people in order to enrich her own research.

Vera who is based in Portugal has mailed three maps of San Thome de Meilapor which look fascinating but will send me on a crazy chase if I was to start using them.

But use I will once Vera shares a few more maps and I try to draw a trail of the dozen or more churches that existed in the Portuguese fort and outside it.

That and more will take some time in the making.

The maps and other material and Paolo’s Facebook chats are also providing me the base for a small event that I wish to time with this year’s Madras Day celebration.

A decade ago, some of us floated the idea of the Madras Day to celebrate the founding of this city. We chose a day - August 22.

And we decided that any event focused on the city would be created, planned and driven by people of this city.

10 years ago, we hosted a Walk in the Fort and ran a series of events at Rajaji Hall, once the Banqueting Hall of the British era.

When it all ended that launch year, well after 9.30 p.m. my colleague Sashi Nair and I who drove these events were exhilarated and exhausted.

Today, over 100 events are held during Madras Week, and these are hosted by many people and groups.
This year the focus is on to encourage more communities in areas which have not held such an event to ideate and drive one.

After all, a Madras Week celebration is complete only when different communities in different areas celebrate it in a way they think is best.

And it can be simple and straight.

Let me share last year’s wonderful effort of a bunch of women of Sowcarpet.
The idea was simple - a Food Trail in their area. There are lots of snacks stalls in that region. All of them offer north Indian specials. And the group know most of them.

The idea was picked up and the group drew up a route. Six shops, six stops. Five guides, 3 volunteers.
And the Mint Food Trail attracted over 40 people.

So the call is going out to you and to your friends. Focus on an idea that makes this city. Draw out an event. Tell your friends and their friends about it. Make it happen.

The buzz is being shared at a web site. You can find it at www.themadrasday.in

Listen to the audio post here >>>

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