Having returned the previous night, found there was so much to catch up on that missed the morning lec dem at the Music Academy much to my regret. Prof Indira Viswanathan Peterson was speaking on Serfoji II and the music of his court. Hoped that Pradeep Chakravarthy would be attending so that I could get some highlights only to receive an SMS from him asking whether I was going and if so could I send him some highlights. Reminded me of a Tamil proverb by grandmother was fond of – “she went to her aunt to borrow a sari only to find the latter walking down rolled up in a reed mat.”
Had promised to help out a friend by taking some of her overseas visitors on a heritage tour this morning. It had to rain of course. But never mind, we need the water. So went around what is becoming one of the ugliest cities of the world, and pointed out a few remnants of heritage to a politely interested elderly audience. Came back exhausted and just nodded off when phone rang.
T Rukmini was at the other end. She had detected some errors in the Academy citation for her Kala Acharya. This lady is one of the sweetest people I have come across. The way she spoke it was as though she was apologising. So immediately got off couch and got going and setting right the errors. All ended well. President ensured that the award citation was corrected. Called up TR and informed her. She was delighted. I apologised profusely for the goofs for which I was solely responsible. My only sore point is that the errors have appeared in the Academy souvenir and copies of this are with 100s of rasikas by now. Nothing can be done about that.
In the evening went to Tag to check that the laptop was on speaking terms with the LCD. Then walked across to NGS for being interviewed by a DD team from Delhi led by Vidya Shah. The more I reflect on the season the more I am convinced that Carnatic music survives despite and not because of Chennai. This is one of the noisiest cities possible with some of the most insensitive people around. The car park at the NGS was full of autos with no silencers, drivers (largely society mamas and mamis) honking away and watchmen blowing whistles. The atmosphere was more like a railway station. An airplane was flying overhead to add to the chaos.
In the evening went to Tamil Isai Sangam. One of my favourite venues and the authorities had been kind enough to send me a couple of tickets. The keera vadai, pongal and dosa here are among the best and you can polish off all of it and under Rs 50 for the canteen is subsidised. But it is best not to go in person. You can always send your man and so avoid seeing how it is all done.
The TIS car park usually does not fill up. But today it was chock-a-block and I was curtly told to park on the road. As if that is possible in George Town. So I beamed at the watchman and gently dropped the names of a few influential Chettiars, past and present. Began with Le Pa Karu if I am not mistaken. That cleared the way magically and I was in.
The TIS auditorium just drips history and character. Gleaming floor tiles and woodwork, all from the 1940s, mark the lobby. The toilets according to those who have been there and done that, are spotless.The auditorium proper is showing signs of ageing but all would be well with some minor repairs. As for the seats, they are among the most commodious though I wish they would not fold up with a metallic twang the moment you get up.
Sanjay sang accompanied by Varadarajan (violin), Palladam Ravi (mridangam) and Udupi Sridhar (ghatam). Some great music. The highlights were kAntimati annai (kAnaDa), aruLvAi angayarkaNNiyE (dharmavati), annai jAnaki (sAvEri) and RTP in brndAvana sAranga. Y so many annai sgs asked an sms as the concert progressed. Annai de flavour of Chennai I replied much to recipient’s mirth. The vishranti at this venue unmatched said another sms and I cannot agree more.