As always I had intended to be super organised by Madras Week so that I would have time to go around and participate in all events. And, as usual, I am in as chaotic a mess as I usually am.
Went to the CP Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation for speaking on Sir CP in Madras. Good crowd. Dr Nanditha Krishna had made all arrangements. Saddened to know that thanks to continuous raising of road levels and the floods of last year, water weakened the oldest part of The Grove, the historic residence of the family. One part had to be brought down and is being rebuilt. Went in the afternoon to participate in the Dr Sir A Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar Rolling Trophy Quiz conducted by the Madras Gymkhana Club. Went as part of a team comprising Sharanya Jayakumar, Dr Navin Jayakumar and Gautam Venkataramani. Went with thousand guilty feelings – is this too heavy weight a team? Ought I to go? And in a Gauravam like twist there was my young son in the Madras Cricket Club team. Felt like this –
On going there felt much better as every team had heavy weights. Our team won the trophy. Went home to study and mug up dates for the Fort St George tour on Sunday. The last count of registrations stood at 52.
Was at Fort by 6.30. The people rolled up by 6.45 and at 7.00 we were at the gate only to be rather brusquely informed that nobody can be let in till 10.00 am. Heightened security owing to Assembly session was the excuse, this despite a letter permitting us to enter that Vincent D’Souza had been moved heaven and earth to get for us. After some entreaties and requests we were let in and then everything proceeded smoothly. By 9.00 am it was as hot as hell but we plodded on manfully and completed the tour by 9.30 am as planned.
In the afternoon went to a book launch at the Odyssey. 19-year-old Sai Prapanch was releasing the second of his five-part fantasy Contract series. I do not know much about that genre but it was great to see a youngster full of confidence and raring to go. The first volume has done very well and sold over 10,000 units (that is what they call books these days to take into account e-versions), which is phenomenal. There was a good turnout, with N Murali of The Hindu, another of my chiefs, releasing the book and self and young actor Kalidas Jayaram receiving the first copies. The weather was hotter than ever.
Sarada in the meanwhile went to participate in Sreemathy Mohan’s Golden Furlong of T Nagar, comprising Sundari Silks and RMKV. Apparently the shops had made wonderful arrangements to receive everyone and explain their wares. Snacks were served and there was valet service from one location to another. (How wonderful it would be if we had a battery operated car service within the Fort to take people around). This combined with Sreemathy’s natural exuberance made for a great tour. In many ways, Sreemathy has made possible the involvement of the retail trade in Madras Week. This began last year when she did a Textile Tour of T Nagar during Madras Week 2015.
In the evening off to Hotel Maris for the first of the Madras Musings lecture series. This was by Kombai S Anvar and the topic – Madras under the Golconda Sultanate. There was a record turnout and Maris, which is known for its traditional South Indian fare, put out a wonderful menu for its high tea – vadai, bonda, poli, kasi halwa, some species of bhajji and great coffee.