Sunday, August 17, 2014

North Madras puts up their photo collection in exhibition

Nine years ago, Royapuram based Avvai Kalai Kazhagam organised various events for school children and a cultural evening 'Madras Nalla Madras' in 2005. The enthusiastic women had been part of the Madras Week guiding school children from the southern part of Chennai in their trip to north Madras for a couple of years. But they have been quiet and watching what the city was doing for the past few years.

We knew that they have a collection of old and new photos of Madras, particularly of Royapuran. Tondiarpet, Thiruvottiyur, Ennore and the neighbouring areas. This year we suggested they brought these pics out for an exhibition and Renuka Devi, a past secretary of the organisation, with whom we are co-ordinating showed much interest.

In three days they are ready with more than 200 photos neatly arranged in the hall where they host their annual Navaratri show. They are inviting the neighbourhood schoolchildren to the exhibition.

Renuka says that they are working on adding more to the collection  for next year and some pictures need correction with the city's administration making changes in the zones.

We are happy that the Madras Week 2015 is in their agenda now.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Connemara creates nooks of its history

The lobby of Vivanta Taj Connemara hotel had a surprise for us, people who are not frequent visitors to this place. In a corner, the wall was turned into a gallery of photos of the hotel and people associated with it.

Alongside was a set of two colonial-styled chairs and centre table, with a marble top. There was also a book of a few pages tracing the hotel's history.

A smart executive then led up to another part of the lobby side where a set of 12 photos of the halls and rooms of the vintage hotel were displayed.

More is being planned - a walkthrough for interested guests who will be offered some wine and given a quick history tale of the Connemara.

Nice little effort. One which our institutions can emulate; all those which are a century and plus old.

Australia, Armenia share their parts at press conference

The Taj Vivanta Connemara played host to the Madras Week press conference on August 13, Wednesday evening; it was attended by a  large press corps and by a few people who are hosting large events this season.

People said that the events had increased and so had the variety; guess the booklet of all the events brought out by Madras Musings must have wowed all those who leafed through it.

New this year is a app that is developed by Broadgate and funded by Sundaram Finance which gives all the info on all events, categorized and updated even as later reports come in.

There are two international presences this year - Australia and Armenia. Both have interesting links with this city and this will be showcased this year. The reps of these communities spoke at the press conf.

Close coverage by the print, social and TV and radio media has done a lot to promote Madras Week. Hopefully, this year the short reports and special features will double!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Local Area Walks; start one to add to growing number

Walking Tours seem to have taken off well and at last count there were 15 Walks for this season which is still small but a great positive.

And leading the Walks are not the same people who have done so for 10 years. There are new faces and new themes too.

Food Walks have got lots of attention following the mushrooming restaurants and foodies and lots of info on food in the city and writing too.  These Walks can multiply if local community elders curate a small Walk for say 45 minutes. A Walk need not be only led across history places and by specialists.

It took little effort to get alumnae of Queen Marys College to curate 2 Walks. QMC is 100 this year and the team is up and ready. But WCC has not yet.

And why aren't old boys and girls of St Patricks and St George's curated Walks inside their campuses? Or of Madras Medical College?

Anglo Indian Madras is part of 2 Walks and though the leaders have been slow to react we hope they will have a great time and crowd. And repeat them often.

Kottur and Velachery, Pudupet and Vadapalani among many other areas deserve Walks. 

Still, few events in north Madras . . .

The not so happy side of the celebration is the fact that hardly any events are taking place in North Madras and in the outlying areas of the city and communities there are still not warming up to the idea.

The groups which are keen to lend their hand to host events like talks, walks and contests say that they do not get warm invites from the communities and see the effort as a waste of time.

Groups out there who are invited to create events and even given tips and help drag their feet.

This trend does reflect on how the city sees itself and thinks of a day to celebrate its founding. Is there still a divide and does that run deep? How can one get over it?

Social History Projects; need for areas to start on them!

One of the grassroot level ideas that I have been sharing with community activists and creative people has been to build a Social History Project for each area.

It took root in a small way in Anna Nagar. A small group of architect and students made it possible with a collection of old pictures of the area, some contests and an evening where seniors here talked of the 'old days'.
I hear this project has got bigger this year and you will get to know more on the Madras Day site and on their own FB page and online.
Their collection of pictures are now close to 100.

I have asked people in St Thomas Mount and on Arcot Road, in San Thome, Little Mount and Royapuram to start similar projects. The start has been wobbly but the idea is still being driven.

You may want to start one for your area. Valuable step that goes beyond events and galas.

Grab souvenirs; Tees, caps, postal covers and postage stamp

The list of Madras souvenirs is growing and this is good news indeed. A City which is 375 years old deserves some great souvenirs ideated and made by its people.

Over a decade ago we started the Tee Design Contest and though they entries have been small in number - 30-40 - we have received some great ideas which have been used in the year's Tee for Madras.

This year, the design is a monochrome and the images will be in black and white - these are a collage of the city's landmarks and have been design by young Naveen. The Tee is getting ready in Tiruppur and will be on sale hopefully from August 17. At Rs.220.

There is also a Madras cap for the 375 years occasion. It has a legend that says - CHENNAI. My City is 375. The cap will be ready on Sunday and on sale too for Rs.80.

The Tee and cap will be on sale at the Mylapore Times office - 77, C P Ramaswamy Road, Alwarpet, Chennai 18 ( near the Alwarpet flyover). Phone; 2498 2244.

Another great souvenir due for release is a Postal Cover with a My Stamp on it. Designed and produced by D H Rao the cover theme is Transport as is the My Stamp. A collector's item it will be on sale at Clive House inside Fort St George from Aug 22 to 24 where an exhibition is being held.
Grab this! Limited edition.

Madras Day to Madras Week

Voluntarism does have its great pluses. It spreads if its catches the imagination of people.
And that is how the Madras Day celebration is now spread across a week and many events go beyond the week or start well before it.

Just now we have informally renamed Madras Day as Madras Week, though Madras Month may not be too far off to celebrate.

Madras Day is key; August 22. If people find their own time and space to host their events so be it.

There are a group of young people who encourage creative writing online at the Quill and as they quickly curated a writing contest they were anxious since the Week was about to begin. We got them to relax and do their best.

Madras in 375 Words - sounds and looks like a nice creative contest. Look for the details soon on the web site.

So even as the first blog post gets delayed this far and yet kicks off now, there is time to curate your own Madras event. Do go ahead.