Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Controversies sink into cheap jibes

Controversies have enveloped the Madras Day process from the time the idea was floated.
Are you pro-British?
Are you saying the area we call Madras/Chennai did not exist before 1639?
Are you celebrating white men who took Indian blood and suck us to this day?
Why not Chennai 2000 Plus?

The last mentioned is an idea circulated by a senior journalist who seems to run a Trust - Chennai 2000 Plus.

Debates are always welcome.
As long as they are civil and don't cross unwritten borders.
Sadly, many who blow hot and cold have not even celebrated the city in some way.

Now, there are people who are hitting below the belt. Mails are being sent to newspapers and people casting aspersions on the 'catalysts', calling the name of Jesus and Good Friday in arguments and flooding the  mail boxes.

Artists. Writers. Poets. Artists . . .

Madras Day triggers many processes.
Take the example of Chennai Weekend Artists.

Since many of its members use their Sunday mornings, heading to city spots to sketch and draw and water color, all their best works made for a great collection though some works may be tad amateur.

So when the CWA curated a show of their works at Lalit Kala Akademi and had a good crowd at they launch and the daily events are well crafted, this showed how a concept like Madras Day can throw up very positive developments.

Can we make a collection of city pictures and photos and lead these to books and collections?
Can we have more city writing that can go into a collection that a publisher can put out?
Can we have illustrated books for kids or short stories in Tamil?

We can. We need creative souls who passionately drive such thoughts.

How did Butt Road get the name?

How did Butt Road in St Thomas Mount get that name?

It must have got the name because of the presence of a archery/shooting range in the area in the colonial times when the British had its cantonment in the Mount region after the Fort began to suffocate.

We got to know this small history of Madras/Chennai from a students' team of Army Public School, Nandambakkam.

It was taking part in the annual Power Point Project Presentation Contest that asks schools to study a heritage theme and present it in public.

Army Public School chose Butt Road that is close to its school campus. And for its project, it won the first prize at the 2016 contest. (photo above)

13 schools undertook the study of Streetscapes, for that was the theme.

Some of them had done some great field work.
Now, the hosts plan to build on this research and perhaps launch a project that looks at Chennai's StreetScapes.
Students will be an integral part of it.

Anyone else who may want too share their expertise here? Tech tools we can use, web site plan, video shoots. Mail us at -

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chennai authors get showcased!

Odyssey store's Ashwin has done a great service for city based writers. Showcased their books that are still in pr9int at his Gandhi Nagar store.
And one can already observe the 'oohs' and aahs that the authors have been uttering at this promotion.

At a prominent space in the store, the tables occupy some 30 odd books. Ashwin also offers a cloth bag that features the covers of these books to shoppers who buy two Chennai authors' books!
And on some evenings, young writers have been chatting about their work.

Meanwhile, at least three local theme books are being released. Writer Meera Raghavendra Rao sends us an invite to her ' Madhawas in Madras' book release.

And at Odyssey, I seemed to have sighted the cover of a book based on a Mylapore life experience!

Photo featured here is of a Madras Day event for kids that Odyssey hosted.

Buharis' mutton samosas and Mount Road stories

A Mount Road 'like'r mentioned about Buharis and its mutton samosas on the sidelines of a recent Madras Day event. That is when I got to know that the famed samosas were being sold at all Buharis outlets ( there are lots of them now and mostly doing well) sold the samosas.

But one had to get there by 4 p.m.

I was driving past one in Adyar and it was 3.45 p.m.. So we stopped by and picked by a pack - costs Rs.65.

I recall the times in the 70s when we gobbled them up at Buharis on Mount Road - they were sold at 10 paise a piece, crunchy ones and filled to the edges with mutton. They are still tasty.

I had thought of hosting a Mount Road Walk this 2016 season. When  I do it I start at The Hindu office gates and end at Buharis or LIC. But the nasty climate ( it is 37degrees now) has discouraged me from announcing this Walk.

I lived close to Mount Road in the 60s and 70s and have collected loads of stories - of people, shops, places, the road itself.

Lots of seniors have their own Mount Road stories. I shared one note on the Madras Day FB page - written by Dr Beatrix D' Souza, former MLA and MP and San Thome resident, and posted on her social media page

Perhaps, there is an illustrated book on this road that must be written. What do you think?