Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Historian-writer S. Muthiah takes a back seat

The man who kept tossing the idea of Madras Day two decades ago - historian and writer S. Muthiah is now taking a back seat - his health needs his attention though this veteran can't hide his enthusiasm to sink into this season's events.

Though Muthiah has been resting he keeps sharing leads and tickling people into action.

His Monday column in The Hindu's MetroPlus section have not been appearing for some three weeks now.

Welcome to the 2018 edition!

Welcome to the 2018 edition of Madras Day.
What began as Madras Day (August 22) and expanded to Madras Week is now Madras Month!

In a way, that is an organic progression. For, many people and groups who now want to host an event that focuses on this city often choose weekends or holidays and since there are just a few of them, the whole of August now offers many events.

What has not happened?
Well, there are no signs of bigger ideas which can be translated into the real - like a weeklong show of exhibitions, films and interactive events at a few places across the city. Or a travelling show.

And if this has to happen we need corporates and pro-active community groups to back such ideas.

The city has many open spaces - outdoor and indoor - for such events. And the city is now big. So it certainly calls for multi-fold, multi-location events that can touch many neighborhoods.

What has happened though is that many more groups are keen to host events they can manage - clubs, urban affairs bodies and campuses.

A volunteer-driven celebration of this nature does not easily set triggers in communities. One has to coax, encourage, talk to and discuss with potential hosts to get an event going.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Talk and lunch at NInan's at the Y, George Towne

Abraham Ninan; Madras' most popular caterer of the 60s, 70s and 80s. From Pandit Nehru to Madras Medical College's topnotch professors, from the Anglo India families of St Thomas Mount and Perambur, to advocates of the Madras High Court……all of them enjoyed and remembered his food.

A bit of English, a bit of Kerala and a bit of Madras. Thats what he made his food taste.

Ninan began his life with the Spencer's, managing its hugely popular catering on the railways.
He then ran a big canteen at Madras Medical College.

He took over an Iranian restaurant in the YMCA in George Towne and over time, made it a very popular food joint.
English breakfast had the way it should be had - with knives and forks and napkins. The menu for lunch was a big spread of chicken roast, mutton biryani and caramel custard ( it sells fast at Rs.40 a cup!)

Today, his son Alexander Ninan runs the restaurant which is now in its 61st year. And to celebrate a rare restaurant that has run and run and still serves good food, there is going to be a talk and a buffet on a weekend.

Ninan will shares his experiences and then serve the brand of food his place is known for.

Just a different kind of event to mark Madras Day 2017.

Tasakku Tasakku is a song from the hit Tamil film ' Vikram Vedham' that is running full at city theaters, starring Madhavan and Sethupathi.
It is a song at a wild party of the goons of a gang supposedly based in north Chennai.
The song is also a big hit and if you listen to it closely, the lyrics have a lot to express of life in that zone of the city.

Songs on Chennai in movies?
What makes film makers produce them? How do writers get to write the lyrics so apt to a city or neighbourhood? How apt is the music?

These make for a study that goes beyond just music and lyrics.
They tell us the story of this city.

And can make for a great theme for an illustrated talk / lecture.

A new T-shirt for Chennai

The contest to get people to design for a Chennai T-shirt does not seem to enthuse too many people. One wonders why the students at places like NIFT, Arts College and Stella Maris' Arts Dept. do not seem excited about an occasion like this one.

Since the entries we received were few, we went to a professional graphic designer for help and in a few days we seem to have a design that was 'ins[pired' by a India design posted on social media.

The Tee is being produced in Tiruppur and should be out by August 14; for sale.

Limited stocks of M, L and XL sizes.