Tyagaraja’s Thiruvaiyaru and Thanjavur, a tour

July 18, 2016

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What does this Tuesday Ghat Chattiram have to do with the Tyagaraja Kriti paralOka sAdhanamE?

To know this and more, join historian Sriram V on a journey to Thanjavur and Thiruvaiyaru from September 2 to 4, 2016. We will be accompanied by Carnatic singer Ashwath Narayanan who will regale us with some of the great compositions of Tyagaraja during the tour.

We leave by luxury coach and stay for two nights at Ideal River Resorts, Thanjavur.

Itinerary:

Departure on Sept 2 at 6.00 am

Return on Sept 4 at 7.00 pm

We return by the evening of the 4th to Chennai.

Charges per person: Rs 16,500 inclusive of travel, stay and food. Rooms are charged on twin sharing basis.

Cancellation charges: 50% will be deducted in case of cancellation two weeks before tour. There will be no refund post that.

Payment Options:

1. You can pay by bank transfer to the following account and then send an email with details to walks@chennaipastforward.com:

Account Name: Past Forward
Account Type: Current
Bank Name: The Federal Bank Ltd
A/c No. 12820200104237
Branch: Royapettah
IFSC CODE: FDRL0001282

2. You can drop off a cheque in the name of Past Forward at the following address:

c/o HVK Systems,
2&3, Bhattad Tower,
30, Westcott Road,
Royapettah, Chennai 600014

Restoration, Police Style

July 19, 2016

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The Royapettah police sta-tion has been part of the regular beat of The Man from Madras Musings. By that he does not mean he is a Known Delinquent (KD in local parlance) but simply that he passes by it almost on a daily basis. For that matter, MMM recalls passing by it even when he was a stripling, a mere mmm, so to speak. He even recalls in those days, and here those who are younger Than MMM will forgive him for slipping into anecdotage, which is the surest sign of dotage, a signboard that used to be on one of the sidewalls of the ­station. This was to ostensibly encourage safe driving and featured a family of five – father, mother and younger child on a scooter with grandmother and older child in a sidecar (remember those?). The message implied that Father was responsible for the well being of everyone in the vehicle(s) and so he better drive carefully. For some reason, that picture has remained in MMM’s mind. Probably because the characters portrayed looked extraordinarily happy.

Be that as it may, the point at issue is not the signboard but the police station as a whole. Over the years it had been allowed to deteriorate, those in occupation complain­ed of lack of space and modern amenities, and so it was high time that the place went in for a makeover. In the past this would have meant wholesale demolition, but, what with the Chief hammering home the message of conservation, attitudes have changed. That led to a new breed-people who talked of preserving old buildings but invariably condemned them to a fate worse than demolition-converting them into museums that nobody visited. But not so the Royapettah police station. It was announced that the police would move out, the older part of the building would be renovated, newer bits would be demo­lished to make way for still newer bits, and, finally, the ­police would move back. ­Every­one who is someone in the world of conservation was delighted. None more so than MMM who conveyed the news to the Chief with a hey nonny no and a hot cha cha.

Work began shortly thereafter. The police moved out and the annexe was pulled down revealing a beautiful gothic rear side of the old building. Shortly thereafter, work began on a new annexe that promises to seal the rear of the main building forever and is quite likely, from what it appears now, to be the ugliest building on the entire stretch – and, mind you, there is no dearth of ugly structures on this road. A large area fronting the police station has been cordoned off to house the construction equipment. But nobody appears to be bothered about the side of the building. This has housed for years a run down white van that probably was confiscated by the police and never claimed by the rightful owner, if ever there was one. Over time, the building and the van seem to have developed an affinity and it is most likely that the van itself is considered an integral part of the building. Or perhaps the walls rest on the van, which if moved will cause the whole edi­fice to tumble. The local popu­lace views the van as a convenient rubbish dump and it will astonish you to know the kind of stuff that rests alongside it – plenty of sawn down trees, a sofa set or two and, some­times, even a discarded water closet. Political parties view the van as an extension of the wall space and paste posters on it.

So, naturally, given its importance, the van has not been shifted and remains where it his long been, despite the hectic construction happening alongside. Last seen, the local cattle have begun to view the cordoned off area in front of the police station as a natural pen and have moved into it. The other day, a couple of cows fought with each other over a plastic bag and provided much entertainment to all. It remains to be seen as to how the entire restoration will pan out. So, watch this space for more.

Hidden histories: The Legend of Lord Labak Das

July 15, 2016

Take for instance the story of Lord Labak Das. That phrase, for it cannot be qualified as a name, though an old one, became famous following a sequence involving comedian Vivek in a movie…

Source: Hidden histories: The story behind Lord Labak Das

Surveying, Railway Style

July 11, 2016

Those who follow these outpourings of The Man from Madras Musings know that he gets around quite a bit and much of his travel is by train. In the past, MMM has written feelingly about nights of horror when he, as a guest of our railways, has had to deal with filthy toilets, plenty of four, six, eight and even hundred legged co-passengers, and, above all, water supply – either none at all or too much of it, threatening to flood the entire coach. Of his travails caused by fellow passengers-snoring, persistent usage of cell phones, playing videos loudly and, above all, quarrelling in public, MMM will say nothing. After all, the railways are a public service and you cannot choose whom you travel with. If MMM is so finicky, why does he not charter his own plane, as an auto­rick­shaw driver once asked of him. But in short (and MMM would have shortened all of this if he had enough content), MMM has much more to say about our railways and has been biding his time for a suitable opportunity.

Conceive his delight when the other day MMM’s phone rang and the regulation recorded dulcet voice at the other end announced that it was calling from the Indian Railways and would MMM care to answer a survey and, if so, press 1 on his telephone. MMM duly did and the voice expressed its delight. Its first question, it cooed, was on punctuality. On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being verrrrry bad and 5 being verrrrry good, said the voice) how would MMM rate the railways. MMM unhesi­ta­tingly gave 5. He has no complaint on that aspect of the service and when you know the kind of hazards our railways go through, the most frequent being people talking on cell phones and walking on the tracks, it is really a wonder that trains run on time.

The next question was on food. And here MMM gave the railways a 1. MMM, as you know, has suffered enough, what with coloured water passing off as soup, sambar as a side dish for chappatis because there was no dal, idli-s that you could use to break the emergency window open in case there was a fire and the hammer was not in its usual place, and, of course, chopped onions that would have been fresh when the first railway line was laid. The voice thank­ed MMM once again and he braced himself for the subsequent questions. He fully ­expected these to be on cleanliness of toilets, the hygiene in compartments and the quality of bed linen. But, no, for the railways apparently considered punctuality and food to be the only two concerns that it needs to bother with. Perhaps it was the poor rating that MMM gave on the culinary score, though the voice did not take any offence, but he was immediately thanked profusely and informed that the results of the survey would soon be up in the public media. The call then went dead.

Sure enough, the results were published in newspapers a couple of days later. The railways, said the report, had been rated highly on punctuality and people felt that there had been a marked improvement in this area in the last two years. MMM wondered as to when a survey had been done earlier whose findings could have been used to compare the present rating with and, therefore, from which an improvement could be concluded. There was, however, no mention of the food rating.

Announcing Madras Week 2016

July 7, 2016

Announcing Madras Week 2016

Madras Week will be celebrated between the 21st and 28th of August. In the past years we have had enthusiastic city-wide celebrations with excellent support from the media, old and new. We trust that this year will be no different. The Week, which started off as Madras Day 13 years ago to celebrate our city has become virtually a Madras Month judging by the programming last year. The celebrations this year are, like last year, likely to be spread throughout August and will carry on till the first week of September. For the small band of volunteers who catalysed this celebration and now help coordinate the programmes, the response from corporates, educational institutions, citizens of the city, and even diplomatic missions has given enormous satisfaction.

Participation is purely a VOLUNTARY effort by those wanting to organise programmes during the Week. The role of the informal group of co-coordinators is only to encourage such participation, try to organise publicity for the events, offer advice, and, where possible, arrange venues. This is A FIRST CALL for individuals/ groups / institutions who wish to join in VOLUNTARILY to celebrate the founding of our city

This year, the hotels of the city will, once again, be enthusiastic participants. Some will be venues for talks while others will host art and photographic exhibitions besides organising other festivals. Art galleries have also taken to this event in a big way. And so have diplomatic missions and their cultural centres.

We are certain that the various organisations that are active participants, such as the Madras Naturalists’ Society, Nizhal, the photography groups, the Observer Research Foundation, the Roja Muthiah Research Library, the CP Ramaswami Aiyar Centre, The Press Institute of India, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Chennai Chapter, Mylapore Times and Yocee amongst others, will be organising programmes. These will include walks, quiz contests and other such events. As has been the practice in past years, Chennai Heritage, publishers of Madras Musings, will be hosting eight talks at various locations, on subjects related to the city. The celebrations will also coincide with the silver jubilee of Madras Musings. Chennai Heritage will be leading several heritage walks in the city during the Week, as will several individuals. In the past couple of years we have seen groups being formed on documenting our rivers – the Cooum and the Adyar. We are certain they will be participating this year also.

The INTACH Chennai Chapter in particular hopes schools and colleges wishing to organise celebratory activities will get in touch with it. The last few years have seen a considerable increase in the number of schools that have initiated heritage clubs thanks to INTACH’s efforts. The current strength will definitely add volume and value to Madras Week.

Perhaps indicative of the success of Madras Week as a means of creating awareness about the City and its heritage is the number of institutions that have come forward each year to celebrate the city. Several IT companies organised programmes last year and are planning to do more this year. So have several Social and Sports Clubs, Rotary Clubs, and cultural centres. The celebrations have also spread to the suburbs such as Tiruvanmiyur, Nanganallur and Tambaram. Private apartment blocks and various societies are planning their own events. The Coordinators look forward to several more participants this year. A special effort is being made to host events in Tamil also, to bring about greater inclusivity in the celebrations.

Special efforts are on to rope in celebrants in North Chennai and the assistance of volunteers in this cause would be greatly appreciated.

Those who are planning events are requested to send in details by email to the following Ids -editor@madrasmusings.com and themadrasday@gmail.com. Details so received will be put up on the web site http://www.themadrasday.in and also the mobile app Madras Week. In addition, a multi-page booklet with programmes will also be published and distributed closer to the date of the event by Madras Musings, whose website is http://www.madrasmusings.com

Twitter handle for the year – #MW2016 or #MadrasWeek or #MadrasWeek2016

 

Tour of Tyagaraja’s Thiruvaiyaru & Thanjavur

July 6, 2016

image.jpegTyagaraja’s Thanjavur & Thiruvaiyaru, a Tour

Tyagaraja! The Tone Poet of Humanity as Dr V Raghavan wrote of him! Where would our music be without this wondrous personality who was born 250 years ago? In a life span that was just short of eighty, Tyagaraja left behind for us to enjoy 600 and more songs and two operas. These are not just prayers to his beloved Rama and other deities but observations of human life that will be relevant even 1000 years hence.

Tyagaraja lived all his life in Thiruvaiyaru. This village therefore holds within it several vestiges of his time. Many are rapidly vanishing and some are happily for us, still standing. Just 13 km before Thiruvaiyaru is Thanjavur, the cradle of classical music and dance, whose fostering of the arts over centuries ensured that an atmosphere existed in which Tyagaraja, and his illustrious contemporaries, Syama Sastry and Muttuswami Dikshitar could practice their art.

Come and join historian Sriram V on a journey to Thanjavur and Thiruvaiyaru from September 2 to 4, 2016. We will be accompanied by Carnatic singer Ashwath Narayanan who will regale us with some of the great compositions of Tyagaraja during the tour.

We leave by luxury coach and stay for two nights at Ideal River Resorts, Thanjavur.

 

Itinerary:

Departure on Sept 2 at 6.00 am

Return on Sept 4 at 7.00 pm

We return by the evening of the 4th to Chennai.

Charges per person: Rs 16,500 inclusive of travel, stay and food. Rooms are charged on twin sharing basis.

Cancellation charges: 50% will be deducted in case of cancellation two weeks before tour. There will be no refund post that.

Payment Options:

1. You can pay by bank transfer to the following account and then send an email with details to walks@chennaipastforward.com:

Account Name: Past Forward
Account Type: Current
Bank Name: The Federal Bank Ltd
A/c No. 12820200104237
Branch: Royapettah
IFSC CODE: FDRL0001282

2. You can drop off a cheque in the name of Past Forward at the following address:

c/o HVK Systems,
2&3, Bhattad Tower,
30, Westcott Road,
Royapettah, Chennai 600014

My Tally of Heritage Walks

July 4, 2016

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Years ago, when I began heritage walks in Chennai, I had said it had the potential for 100 different  heritage routes. I have done 45 so far within the city. For good measure, I have thrown in the six outstation tours as well. Here is the tally till date:

1. Musical Heritage of Mylapore

2. Musical Heritage of George Town
3. Musical Heritage of Triplicane
4. The Dancing Girls of George Town
5. Wandering Around Vepery
6. The Women of the Marina
7. Triplicane
8. Mylapore
9. Kutcheri Road
10. The Portuguese Influence on San Thome
11. The Town Wall of Madras
12. Peering at Purasawalkam
13. A Slice of Mount Road
14. Checking Out Chintadripet
15. The Justice Party Walk
16. T Nagar
17. Armenian Street
18. Meandering down Mint Street
19. Broadway walk
20. The Mercantile History of Madras
21. NSC Bose Road
22. Park Town
23. Gandhi Nagar
24. Alwarpet
25. Roundabout Royapettah
26. The Ghosts of RK Salai
27. George Town by Night
28. The Village of Mylapore
29. V Krishnaswami Iyer Memorial Walk
30. The Lawyers of Luz Church Road
31. The Royal Madras Yacht Club
32. Mylapore and The Freedom Struggle
33. Going Around Gemini
34. The Beach Walk
35. Fort St George
36. Peering Into Purasaiwalkam
37. Tyagaraja’s Kovur
38. Homes of the Music Academy
39. The American Connection to Madras
40. Royapuram
41. Chidambaram
42. Tranquebar
43. Madurai
44. Trichy
45. Thanjavur
46. Kumbhakonam
47. Dubashes of George Town
48. Lloyds Road
49. Egmore and its Environs
50. Coursing Down College Road
51. The Madras Literary Society Walk

Hidden histories: The Raja who became Chief Minister

July 1, 2016

The Raja of Panagal, he of Panagal Park, will turn 150 on July 9 this year…

Source: Hidden histories: The Raja who became Chief Minister

Inspired by Thiruvaiyaru

July 1, 2016

In what was a fairly long life by the standards of the time, Tyagaraja rarely stirred out of his native Thiruvaiyaru. If you go by his ‘Koti Nadulu’ (Todi), all pilgrimages were a waste of time…

read the link below for more on how Tyagaraja’s village features in his songs

Source: Inspired by Thiruvaiyaru

This article is part of a series on Tyagaraja to commemorate 250 years of his birth. To read the earlier parts, click here:

 

Tyagaraja at 250

What do we know of Tyagaraja?

 

New Indian Exp covers Past Forward App

June 30, 2016

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To read the full story, click here – http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/History-of-251-city-spots-in-your-palm/2016/06/30/article3506020.ece


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