Thursday, September 04, 2008

Raja Seetharaman; R.I.P.

This was not the way we could have closed Madras Day 2008.
Not with an obituary.
But it had to be.

Raja Seetharaman, one of the biggest catalysts of the Madras Day movement died in tragic circumstances on Vinayaka Chathurthi evening, Sept. 3.
Raja died near the Mambalam railway station. He was on his way home after attending a social function when the accident took place.
It is still not clear to us how Raja died - was he tossed aside by an oncoming train and fell on stone and injured himself badly in the head? Or was he thrown aside by a moving train?

We have lost Raja. The man who had tons of energy and gave it all for a public cause.
He with D. H. Rao had organised the Madras Day exhibition of pictures, coins, postage and books. Year after year. Without seeking rewards.
He who put the Special Postal Covers to celebrate Madras and leave signposts in our history.

Raja was a collector of special things. Coins, postage, covers and wedding invites. But he kept a low profile. His strength - putting shows together. 

He was on stage at the inaugural of the Madras Day exhibition at Rajaji Hall. He made sure I got a copy of the special postal cover.

We met on Sunday at Museum Theatre, Egmore for the release of the first part of the Madras Gazetteer to which he had also contributed a chapter. Over refreshments, we talked about how we should take the show to north Madras for 2009. We parted after a long chat.

We had parted for life. 
I was at his funeral on Sept.4 - the first time I stepped into his house on Iyyah Mudali Street in Chintadripet. A well maintained heritage house which had been a stop on V. Sriram's walking tour just weeks ago. I just couldn't bear to go close to his body.  

How do we remember such souls who have been proud of Chennai and did some thing unique for its celebration? When I asked a reporter of 'The Hindu' to write a tribute he said Raja was not a celebrity. So he couldn't convince his chief to spare space for Raja.

Perhaps we will remember him differently. 
Every 'Madras Day' should open with a recall of his contribution.
Tributes must live on. Men can't.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Final Jottings

I got marooned in the final events of Madras Day and so, couldn't keep the blog going!
But now that 2008 is over, I would like to post a few jottings.

Madras Live, the new FM radio station called me over for a chat on Aug.22 morning and the 90 min programme was fun. It gave me an opportunity to tell the city what the Day was all about.
It would be nice to have all our stations focussed on this theme in the years ahead.

The exhibition at Rajaji Hall, the work of D. H. Rao and Raja Seetharaman, got the support of Nalli and TN Tourism. The weekend brought huge crowds, Rao said.

Quizzers may not recognise this event but the Tamil Quiz on Madras that Revathi R. ran for our schools was a warm affair. The best thing about it was the fact that it wasn't a cold contest. The kids enjoyed the session and we kept the questions simple and current. Finally, at the wire, the girls from Rani Meyyammai school pipped the boys from Raja Muthiah.

We had very thin crowds for the docu films screenings on Sat and Sunday. Thanks to Mohan Das Vadakara who spun the DVDs, the screenings were smooth. 
A lot more work needs to be done in producing new docus on the city and that starts now!

Sunday morn was abuzzzzz  - there were give walks in different parts of the city.
I launched the Mount Road walk with 15 people alongside and it took us a little over 2 hours to do the run from The Hindu to Agurchand Mansions.
Sundays have their bonuses - you can storm buildings whose gates are half closed! So we ran up to the 2nd floor of Agurchand and got a grand view of Mount Road!
I hope to have many more Mount Road walks in the months ahead! (Sign up at

And finally, we ran the Madras Quiz at a new venue off Luz. There must have been about 200 people. But it remained warm and easy - the way it has always been. (My colleague Revathi hopes to post the prelim and final set of questions on this blog so if you weren't there you can take them in slowly.)
I think many people didn't like that question on Chinnamalai Pork Curry! Not apt? Not in good taste? Not Madras-like?

I caught up with Mohan at his docu film show at Sastri Hall, Luz. R V Ramani's  ' If I Die' was the last to roll. It is an old docu on Shihan Hussaini. 
At dinner Mohan and I decided we should promote more fresh docus on Madras. So we have work on our hands now for 2009!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

NDTV's Chennai Special

Finally, NDTV decides to devote its Southern Special, telecast daily at 7 p.m. to Chennai.
For Madras Day.
This morning, I catch the Good Morning Mumbai section on NDTV and have to endure a story on a MLA who is on the run. . . can't we begin our mornings with Mumbai's brighter side?
And hey! is Chennai off your radar Pranoy?
Guess Sanjay Pinto, its bureau head argued a lot to get the Chennai special going.
There should be a few snappy features, Sanjay says.
And if all goes well, we should be chatting up on the lawns of Ripon Buildings . . .live.
Yes, we'd like the world to know that Chennai is proud of itself.

Close to midnight and philatelist and collector of all things odd, Raja Seetharaman is going through the last of the exhibits that go on show at Rajaji Hall ( Aug 22 to 25).
Don't miss this grand show. It is free. And children will love it.
D H Rao's epic effort on shooting the Buckingham Canal and telling its story in pictures needs commendation.
Tell us what you though of this show. Post here!

Radio Chennai!

Day 4 was for some homework!
To give the final touches to the Madras Quiz due on Sunday.
I was tempted to be be at Anil Srinivasan's talk. Rather listen to him play.
But sacrificed it.
How I wished for a pirate radio station - which would relay, or at least, play the talks and report the city events.
And then I get an invitation from Chennai Live FM to be on their August 22 morning show.
I promise to.
AIR's FM Rainbow channel will also pepper all its programmes on Aug.22 with tidbits, bytes and chats on the city. 
But we still need a pirate Radio Chennai station

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Madras Day 2008; Day Three

This is a tradition I guess.
The Tuesday of Madras Week is devoted to City Schools!
There's a double bill on today.
Over 70 students from 20 schools file into Srinivasa Sastri Hall in Luz for the Chennai Heritage Project Contest. Students are asked to choose a less known heritage site, visit and study it and work on a PP presentation. And the teams present their projects today.
So we get to listen to topics on St. Patrick's School in Adyar set up by Irish priests who once owned the area now called Gandhi Nagar, the Pattinathar Temple in Thiruvottriyur, Royapuram Railway Station . . .

Dr. Prema Kasturi and Indira Narayanan are the judges. And the winners - Sri Sankara Vidyashramam, Thiruvanmiyur, Sishya, Adyar and Lady Andal Venkata Subba Rao School, Chetput.

Earlier, Swahilya has good news for us. She is the guide of a tour which took a group of P. S. Senior School students to landmarks in north Madras. Swahilya says she enjoyed doing the tour as much as the kids did. A second such tour takes place later this week.

Swahilya volunteered to guide this tour. And we need more people who can lead events for Madras Day. Ideas, people, spaces. If you have some thing abuzz for 2009, do let us know.

Madras Day 2008: Day 2

The first of a few North Madras events is held this afternoon. Writer K R Narasiah, a marine engineer with a passion for heritage and writing, is the speaker at the Avvai Kalai Kazhagam. His audience - high school students.
Narasiah does a good job in 30 mins. However I feel we need to do more about encouraging organisations in this area to think of, plan and host local events. Perhaps, locate good speakers and enthusiastic fora. So if you do know of people we should network with, inform us.

The evening's talk at Anokhee is a great one - Chithra Madhavan is always interesting. 'Less Known features of Well known Temples. . . . ' she starts off with and then leads us through the Less Known Temples of Madras.

Chithra packs in so much into her talks that you want a Part II. Or you want her to take us to the spots she talks about. The illustrations are exhaustive.
Why don't you write a book on this topic?, suggests some one. She says part of the manuscript is on her desktop.
How about a tour of the less known temples?, asks another.
Chithra is willing. And we hope to organise one in a week or two. Look out for details here! A 6 am to 12 noon tour of select temples.

Madras Day 2008: Day One

80 people greet us at the parking lot outside Fort St George. For the first of two walking tours of the fort. With me is Dr. Suresh, the archaelogist who has just got back from Gingee Fort, assisting DD on a docu-film.
Doing the walking tours of the fort early in the day isn't easy - security issues bind you but on this occasion, in addition to the green signal the police have given us, the awareness of Madras Day among the men and women at the gate, makes this is a smooth check in.

I enjoy taking people around the Fort. On a holiday, you have this great space to yourself.
When we end this walk a shade before 10 am this Sunday, I guess most of the 80 who came along also enjoyed the tour.
Suresh will be back next Sunday (24th) to repeat this walk. I won't. I have a new one to lead - the Mount Road Walk!

The time is just right to peep into a formal event at the Taj Connemara - the release of an illustrated book 'Historic Residences of Madras', an effort of V. Sriram and Chandra Sankar.
Copies of the book, well packaged, are given free to all the guests. (If you want one you may have to chance a query).
This Sunday evening, the Chennai Heritage talk is at The Park Hotel. V A K Ranga Rao and V Sriram talk on the early music recordings of Madras. This is Rao's area - the man is said to have hundreds of music records, tracks and labels of all kinds. With pictures and music clips, it is an enjoyable journey.
A question pops up - since the talk dwelt almost completely on classical music, was this the only form of music recorded then?
Friends who are at this talk carry on the debate as we unwind. We talk about the pre and post- Illaya Raja era in film music. And we talk about the Anglos and the Goans who were the backbone of the film music industry of Madras.
And lo! We have a topic for a talk for 2009 - Contribution of the Anglo-Indian and Goan Community in Madras to Film Music - and volunteers to work on it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Send us your reports / pictures!

The Madras Week starts in about 10 hours.
We have a walk at the Fort on Sunday - the police men from the Intelligence Wing were keen to know what the walk was all about. 
With the state of the nation what it is today, security is of concern.
They understood our intention and I hope the two walks will go on smoothly. . .

Meanwhile if you are taking part in any of the Madras Day/ Week events, we want you to write on them and also post pictures.
You can mail pics to us. And post your reports too.

Or you can do so on your blogs / sites / boards and let us know.

This will help document this unique event.
And do tell many others to soak in.
We have created a easy-to-use calendar on the web site -

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Locations of Madras Day events on Google map

We receive many calls from passionate Chennaiites - What can we do for the Madras day?
We tell them, just anything you would love to do for your city!

When Arun Ganesh looked at the Madras Day events calendar online, he decided to do his bit for the occasion.
He started locating the venues of all the Madras Day events and planted them on Google map. He mailed the link to us. And now the calendar page has a link to the map giving you the location.

It might have taken at least a day to point all the locations with details of events happening at each of these places for Arun. But he didn't mind doing it as he loves his city as we all do.
Thank you Arun!

Technology is available online, but the idea comes from one's heart.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Madras by Night!

Now why didn't we think about that?
Well, the idea is rolling .  . .

A couple of people have begun working on this tour. Madras by Night.
Well, it isn't about visiting the sleazy, the grimy and the shady joints of the city (but then all this also makes a city).
It is about experiencing Chennai after 8 p.m.

So which are the hot spots on your mind?
The places which come to life only after 8 p.m.
Well, the team has picked up a few destinations in north Madras where, after the godowns, the shops and the stores down their shutters another life bubbles up.

I wouldn't want to skip the Marina. Or Pondy Bazaar. Or Purusawalkam.

But this team needs ideas. Please post them here. Give us details of places of food, bazaar, koothu. .  that can be part of this tour. Double up as guides.

The tour may well be by bus and on foot. You could climb on to the roof of the bus and run your cams. Somebody suggests we ask MTC to sponsor the ride. Why not?

Log in to get the latest on this plan.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The media gets going . . .

We had a press conference this evening.
To share with the media the buzz about Madras Day 2008.
Taj Coromandel was the tea sponsor and host.
The Bhatts who run Prism PR got the event together (Prism PR is yet another collaborator since we started 4 years ago. Thanks Satyan and Parul)

Some media people wanted to know why we didn't have a formal inauguration. A launch. A kick-off. Others wondered how we worked without a committee. . .

Madras Day is all about people of the city hosting their own events. Of any kind. They don't need to check with Muthiah or Sriram or me or anyone! Just do it.
And do let others know so they too can participate.

We are hoping that once the media buzz goes out many other citizens will plan events.
Revathi, my colleague has just posted a compact calendar of events for the Week and will update it the moment the buzz comes in.
So just go ahead and print that out and prepare to soak in. 6 sheets of events!

P. S.: The K and P photo exhibition at the Taj Connemara took off on Saturday evening. I wasn't impressed at all. It seems to be a lopsided, poor selection of photos. Surely not 4 plus pictures of a 'religious beggar'! 

P. S.: I took out a group of students and their parents on a  Mylapore Walking Your on Sunday. That has inspired people to send a group for the Aug.18 walk of the Fort. We can host 3 more school groups (limited to 30). Do get in touch!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mad Bulls are back!

There are some Chennaiites who have filed Madras Day into their systems.
The Mad Bulls is one.

On the dot, Senthil, who co ordinates some events for this club of Enfield bike riders, calls me.
He doesn't want the MB to be left out.
And lo! a circuit is being planned for the bikers.
Perhaps some odd places on the fringe of North Madras.
If you own an Enfield check out these guys.

Meanwhile I am digging up docus on anything to do with the city.
For the Docu Film Fest. Aug.24, 25.
INTACH is sending us a film it made on the renovation of a temple tank.
Architect Sujatha Sankar parts with one on the architecture of the city.
A film on the San Thome cathedral is on its way.
They may not sound exciting and cutting edge films.
But they will do for a small start.
If you know of anyone who has done docus on Madras, please alert them to his event.

Some day, we hope docus on Chennai will be a 'movement'.
There are dozens on Mumbai/Bombay.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

50 events. And counting . . .

Sudhakar confirms a tour of Nanmangalam forest.
So that is the contribution of MNS (Madras Naturalists Society) to the Madras Week events.
30 mins drive from Adyar and a 90 min. tour of the area where you spot the lovely Great Horned Owl (Read a feature on 'Birds of Madras' in the Aug. issue of Outlook Traveller magazine; a birding guide provided).

Eric Miller (World Storytelling Institute) has planned a walk of the statues on the Marina. He promises impromptu readings and performances at some points. Imagine!

The buzz has gone out to all the FM Radio stations and we hope the airwaves will get exclusive too.

Journalist-columnist Swahilya ( columnist in The New Indian Express) has planned a walking tour of North Madras. She has lived in the region and written on it for years and is a nice storyteller too.

50 plus events and counting . . .

You too can plan and organise an event for the city. Let it be simple. Let it make you proud!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Coaxing Presidency College . . .

If you haven't, please do check out the EVENTS section of Madras Day 2008.
The first list is out.
But we'd like to see it packed.
We should have info on the weeklong talks that 'Madras Musings' is hosting across the city.
S. Muthiah and V. Sriram have put them together.

This year, there will be a weeklong programme in Royapuram - talks, shows and performances on the city at the Ramanujan Museum complex.

Info should be on the web site by August 1.

But what is your community doing for Madras Day?
I put this to Prof. Amarnath of the History Dept. at Presidency College.
He has promised to take his PG students on a  tour of that part of the city.
What about the History departments of Loyola, MCC, WCC?

I realise we really haven't got the colleges linked-in here . . .
IIT-Madras is celebrating its golden jubilee . . .would the IITians come up with something for Madras Day?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cycling Only Days?

How about 'only cycling' days for Chennai?

Well, Congressman and community activist 'Americai' Narayanan hopes this can happen. At least in some small way. He emailed his plans and we suggested some thing of this sort for Madras Day 2008.

Narayanan says 'yes' and hopes to host an event.

We also hope Madras Bike Hash group who do the ECR stretch dedicate a run thro' the city for this event.

If you belong to a club, think of a simple event for the city and push it through. Mail us to share the buzz.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Design the Chennai T Shirt!

The city lovers still place their orders for the T-Shirt that was produced during the Madras Day 2007.
The design of filter 'kapi' served in traditional 'dabara-tumbler' was designed by Shreys R Krishnan, a student of NID Ahmedabd. She won the prize in the 'Design a T-Shirt contest' and was invited to come out with a unique design for our city.
We are waiting to see more designs this year.
If you haven't tried your hand at designing a T-shirt for your city, here is a chance. Last date for submission - Aug.10, 2008

Have a look at the sample designs here:

Read this document on Scribd: tshirt contest

Do you want Madras Eye?

Lets have your suggestions on this one.

Madras Eye isn't that irritating eye infection that strikes us at monsoon time ( Chennai hasn't had it for some year now . . But then have we really had great monsoons? )

Madras Eye is a Madras Day creation. We hosted it in 2006, I think.
We posted a video cam at 2 different locations - on the Marina in the morning and in Mylapore after 11 a.m. and linked it to the Net. (thanks to ChennaiStream)

Which meant you could see the city 'live' on August 22. Anywhere in the world.

We plan to click on the cam on August 22. From 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. We have a few locations in mind - Marina, Parrys Corner, Mount Road, Egmore, Gemini, Besant Nagar and Pondy Bazaar.

We need inputs from you.
1. Better locations perhaps? (Or you can host the cam!)
2. Sponsor the effort.
3. Volunteers to hold the cam!

Write in!

Walking Tour of Madras Port?

This is my second short at it - getting a tour of the Port off the ground. And not into the sea!
My friend Manoj V. Joy, once a shippie and how an activist in that area, gave us a lead.
And so we have met the Principal Officer at the MMD and he seemed positive.

We are hoping Port Chairman Suresh will support the idea. And the PO will coax him too.

A port with 150 years of history behind it certainly needs to host a walking tour. ( Check this link - ).

And more so when most of what is left of another century on this campus will be lost forever as the development of a new port begins this year.

All we ask for is an hour-long tour which can have a few stops, led by an enthusiastic Port guide. At the Wednesday meeting at the renovated Seafarers Club located opposite the RBI, I learnt that ASI has a wing on the Port campus. Will they be our allies?!

The old Port of Mumbai has a monthly walking tour with the first stop at a small but nice museum. Now, Chennai can follow this example. Starting with Madras Day 2008.
If you know the Port chairman well, can you coax him please?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Docus on Madras; collection drive

We want to build a nice library of docu films on Chennai.
And Madras Day is giving us an opportunity to start a movement.
A movement to produce films on this city.

This year, we hope to screen at least 10 films at Sastri Hall in Luz.
Tentative date - Aug.24, from 3 p.m. onwards.

Most of them will be docus that have been produced in the past.
The quality will vary but this doesn't matter.
I just remembered Latha Menon ( who makes ad films and docus ) had made a film on the restoration of the tank of Sri Marundeewarar Temple in Thiruvanmiyur via a INTACH project.
The project had to be sustained. Wasn't. And today, the state is dumping lorryloads of clay on the tank's bed. Just to ensure rainwater is retained and devotees are pleased.
Architects say this is a foolish idea. Water must percolate and recharge the ground and then find retention. . .

Perhaps, with this development, I will need to run off and shoot the recent development. So that it would be an addendum to Latha's docu, shot about 5/7 years ago.

If you know of people who have docus on anything to do with Chennai - the arts, people, institutions, civic issues, communities. . . . do ask them to contact us.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Civic issues also have a space

Karen Coelho called me. The first day of the power cut provided her time to talk about Madras Day.
Would a campaign on sidewalks in our city also find a place in Madras Day, she wondered.
Karen teaches and researches at the Madras Institute of Development Studies in Gandhi Nagar, Adyar. She is also a community activist and has worked on issues like water and public spaces.

Karen and her team have in the past done audits of pavements in some parts of the city. One was in Thiruvanmiyur. The audit also looked at access provided for the less abled as places like the MRTS stations. The results were shocking.

So Karen is wondering if she can raise this issue during the week when we focus on our city. Why not?

Madras Day/Week isn't only about talks and walks and contests.
It is also an occasion to raise issues that affect us. 

Karen wants to talk to college and school students and civic organisations to chalk out a plan.
If this is an issue you want to link in, you mail contact Karen at -

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another little book on the city . . .

A sparrow tells me that another little book on the city will be out in mid August.
The focus is on heritage houses.
Could be 50 profiles.
To be released during 'Madras Week'.

Walks, talks and more; info on Aug.1

Patience please.
Madras Day regulars want to get all the info on the events.
Murali of BSNL dropped by to check out early alerts. He is the sort of person who will hop across three events all in one evening and enjoy the exercise!

Next week, we hope to post some tentative events. V. Sriram mails to say there will be a series of talks in central Chennai and in north Chennai across the week. Look out for the post.

At least 7 walks have been finalised. One of Chinna-dari-pettai (Chintadripet), another of the Marina (Sriram who will lead it has called it ' Women of the Marina'), two inside Fort St. George, one on Mount Road, one in North Madras (around the Mint area), one of three railway stations (Egmore, Central and Royapuram).

There could be 5 more!

Keep checking out . . .

FM radio stations; get them going . . .

Raja Marthandan and Kunal Koushik of Big92.7 FM came by to see us today.
Madras Day was on top of the chat.
The duo promised to bounce the idea at their weekly meetings . . .

FM radio stations are perhaps the best media to create the buzz for such events.

Last year, All India Radio dedicated 8 hours on one of its FM channels to programmes dedicated to the city. It surprised us.

We hope with 10 plus stations in this city, the programming will be exciting

If you know of RJs and radio station honchos, do tell them to dedicate a week in late August to Chennai.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Chennai Photowalk plans . . .

Chandrachoodan is another passionate Chennaiite.
And he promises to host at least three Photowalks in August.
Great news this is.

The Chennai Photowalk is Chandra's idea (
Every second Sunday, Chandra leads about 30/40 people down a colourful/heritage/shopping/green/unknown/strange neighbourhood of Chennai.

Most walkers carry cameras, click lots of pictures and share all that they know of the place.
Some go on to post these pictures. Velachary Balu is a well known face and so are his pictures.

More info at Chandra's blog -

Chandra has this weakness for the 'rising sun'. So his walks start at about 6.12 a.m. So you will have to sacrifice your Sunday snooze if you want to be on the Madras Day- Chennai Photowalks!

A docu-film on Mount Road

I meant to do take a walk down Mount Road this Sunday last. 
To prepare for the Heritage Walk scheduled for August 24 morning.
I dropped that in favour of the Chennai Photowalk of St. Thomas Mount. 
Almost. And didn't do either!

I better do a recce midweek because there is a stream of  postings on my blog on Mount Road.
Stories, experiences, anecdotes.
I have invited everyone who has stories to share on this road to join us on the walk - we may have to arrange for a car to transport the elderly . . . to ensure that this Walk turns out to be truly a community Walk!

Our plan is to walk from Simpsons to Spencers and am hoping the sudden rise in daytime temp to 38degrees doesn't persist in August.

The more I hear about Mount Road the bigger the temptation to document this road on film.
Do you think a docu-film is a great idea?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Heritage Walk of Film Studios

A walk of the film studios of the city would be a big draw.
I tried to get film writer and historian Randor Guy into it.
Randor isn't biting. He says he has lots of writing to do - he begins work at 3.30 a.m.!
I am not giving up.

Our idea is to have a trail from Vijaya Studios to Prasad Studios via AVM's campus.
The people at these three places will welcome us. But we need people who worked in the studios in the 50s and 60s to join us and share stories.
We also need people who worked here and lived closeby to share stories of this area.

A film editor has promised his notes. But who will lead the walk?

Two walks have been firmed up. One inside Fort St. George on Aug.17. And one on Mount Road on Aug.24.

It would be nice to have a walk in Vepery and Purusawalkam. Are there old-timers who can put this together? There are no costs involved in this! Plan the walking tour, let people know and go! If some one can sponsor coffee and snacks, the walk can end on a warm note!

Plans roll for Madras Day 2008

Madras Day 2008.
August 17 to 24.

So what has been lined up for this year's celebrations?

Walks, talks, exhibitions, films, contests . . .

We are making an attempt to get communities in the city's neighbourhood's to get involved.
Perhaps this is one way of spreading the celebration.

We emailed a group of active residents in Kilpauk. How about organising a Sunday walk of the old parts and end it with coffee at an old bungalow? We hope there will be a positive response. . .

My colleague Sashi Nair has put up a programme in Vadapalani. Hotel Green Park will be the host. Readings, a puppet show and a talk on ' Temples of Chennai' by Dr. Chitra Madhavan.

Putting together an event isn't difficult.  
A walk around the neighbourhood which has a past is certainly a nice start on a Sunday morning. Get senior residents to meet, do a recee and then lead the walk and share stories along the way.
If your local school can share its hall, you could organise a talk on a city-related topic. Look around and I am sure you can locate a great speaker. A film professional, a police officer, a journalist, a community activist . . . give them time to work on a theme and I am sure you will have a great evening.

My friend D. Hemachandra Rao of Virugambakkam has a huge collection of everything related to ships. He is also a senior philatelist. Rao has been an active host of Madras Day events.

Rao has been documenting the Buckingham Canal, which runs north to south, from Andhra Pradesh to Marakkanam. Last week, he drove to a few nooks along the Canal to take pictures of the giant levers and gates used to regulate water in this once-navigable Canal.

Rao hopes to exhibit these pictures at an exhibition. If you lend him a hand and help on creating a PP package, the Canal can be a theme for a talk.  His contact no is - 98408 70172.
Rao would love to loan pictures of the Canal as it was 50 years ago. Can you help him with leads?