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.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The men and women who make the Metro

This is an idea that popped up one Sunday. A newspaper report on Chennai's Metro rail triggered it.
The Metro is now at the core of the city's transport.
It is being reported every day.
Thousands of people work on it.
'Who are these people?

So a social message went out - could we have visual profiles of say 25 or 30 workers at different spots on the Metro line - on Poonamallee High Road, on Mount Road or in Anna Nagar.
Get city photographers to click these pictures and ask Metro bosses to grant space on one of its rail station's campus to exhibit them.

This will be one way of saying thank you to unknown people who also make our city.

If you wish to join this group, seek the links on the Madras Day FB page.

Wanted; school hall in North Madras for weekend schools mela

We are looking for a school space where we can host a Madras Mela on a weekend - for schools in the north Chennai neighbourhood.

Hardly any event takes place in Perambur or Royapuram during Madras Day season and that is a shame.
It calls for a lot of effort to seek out and firm up people or communities who can host simple events.
A talk, a walk or even a quiz.
Maybe a nice photo show.

A group is making the effort this year to organize a weekend eerie soy contests for the schools in the Perambur-Ayanavaram-Madhavaram area.
Poster-making, model making, quiz, collection of home-based heritage . . .
If you have some influence with a school with a hall that can house 100 students for two days, do use that reach to get the group involved.

Madras Day is all about getting together, from the heart!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Do you have photos of Mambalam in the 1970s

The famed writer Ashokamitran has written a delightful essay on West Mambalam, his home for many years. 
This is a neighbourhood that leads a low profile life and yet holds within its roads and colonies, many social stories that make this city.

Resident Padmapriya Bhaskaran, who studies less known temples of Tamil Nadu is now trying to uncover the lie and times of West Mambalam.
She intends to curate a Walk of this area during Madras Day 2017 season.

Padmapriya is keen to also collect photos shot of this area in the 1950s/60s/70s; if she gets two dozen visuals of the schools and stores, temples and social events held here then, she can also put up a photo exhibition.
Studying our neighborhoods can be fascinating journey. The stories hold local histories.

You too can start a study of your area. Be it Velachery or Madipakkam, Perambur or Mint Road.

Start today.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A call to plan and lead Walks

Heritage Walks are probably the largest number of events during Madras Day season. And they are hugely attended.
But our intention is to bring out more and more people to curate and lead more new Walks in parts of the city we have not explored.

Maybe Perambur and Pallavaram, Nanmangalam and Mannady, for example!

People who know these areas well and can share their local knowledge with a group are invited to plan a Walk and offer it to people in August.

Ping us with your own idea. It can be even a small one - lets say, around a less known but wow temple in George Town.

This contest for school students gets them to research

This is one contest which has a long history in the Madras Day world.
And it is for city schools.
The PP presentation contest encourages student teams to research and study a given theme of the city and present it at a public space.

The idea here was to get young people to know better a part of the city they may not have explored well.

And so over the years, teams have worked on churches and temples, old colonies and public spaces. And some of them have come up with some amazing notes and pictures.

This year, on the suggestion of a well-wisher who never fails to attend the contest, the theme is 'Markets of the City'. The focus will be on informal markets that have a character of their own.

There are many of them - from automobiles to dry fish to stationery and all the needs for Muslims religious/social functions.

Teams will gather in August at the Sastri Hall in Luz to make their presentations. The invitations for this contest will go out in early July.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The D H Rao Walks. B. Canal. Bridges.

Philatelist and historian D. Hemchandra Rao has been an integral part of Madras Day for many years.
He made it a point to release a Special Postal Cover themed on the city every August 22.
This costs a bit and the less than warm support from the P & T Dept., even from its seniors does not make life easy for Rao.

Rao is currently researching on the Buckingham Canal; he has been at it for some years now and travels often to parts of the Canal for field trips.
During his recent trip between Ongole and Sulurpeta, he volunteered to design two Walks for August.

One on the B Canal, as it is called by engineers in AP.  Starting the walk from Basin Bridge, where the Canal was formally started on its northbound course and exploring it all the way to Central Station zone.

The quays, the boat yards, the locks, the godowns and all that made the Basin a buzzing centre for the boats from south and north.

The second Walk will be on old bridges, built during the time of the British. Starting with Laws Bridge in Chintadripet, the walk will tae people down to the May Day park side and on to Napier's Bridge, near the Marina.

Rao's intends to make people walk down to the less seen sides of these bridges to appreciate their structures.

So look out for these two Walks; planned for top of August.
And be prepared to get dirty. These aren't easy ones.

Welcome to 2017! Ideas on the roll!

Welcome to the 2017 edition of Madras Day. Madras Week if that tag sounds good. And some would say, Madras Month since for some years now the events are spread across 30 or more days!

Last year, the official count showed 152 events. With Talks and Walks adding to a good 50 plus.

And all these events were curated and hosted across the city and voluntarily.
Which is what the spirit of Madras Day has been and will be, hopefully.

Events ideate round the year. Some ideas hibernate, some pop up suddenly and some have a life of their own.

Many groups and communities who have been hosting events for some years now have got their hats on early and share the plans as early as May and June.

One of the events which gets into discussion mode early is the Madras Quiz. Host Murugappa Group is always keen to discuss ways in which this popular event can be improved.
This year, leveraging the social media is the focus and so, a few weeks before the mid-August event there should be some great buzz on FB and Twitter.

Quizmaster Sumanth C. Raman may well present a teaser quiz from a few landmark spots on First Line Beach!