Madras Week Diary Aug 27 & 28

Aug 27


In the evening we had R Mohan speaking on Cricket In Chennai, as part of the Madras Musings lecture series. This was at Hanu Reddy Residences, Poes Gardens. The talk was very good. The venue was phenomenal. I never knew that such an excellent set of serviced apartments existed in this area. The auditorium was top class. Probably because of the forbidding address or because it was not a five star hotel, the freeloaders were conspicuous by their absence. I had of course called the hosts and asked them to tone the food down to a minimum.


R Mohan had all his facts at his fingertips. There was lots of humour. Among those we also had at the event was Mrityunjaya Singh, grandson of Vizzy of Vizianagaram and so he was the obvious choice for handing over our memento to the speaker.

Aug 28

This was a killer of day. Three events, all involving change of wardrobe it being a horribly muggy day. There was besides no afternoon nap, which means the week will be crabby. In the morning went to Tag Centre for the release of Randor Guy’s book, Memories of Madras. He is one my mentors, one of the four Rs, the others being S Rajam, KV Ramanathan and VAK Ranga Rao. Sadly, two are no more and I still miss them. Besides these, there is of course the Mega M – S Muthiah.


Randor Guy and I have been great friends since the time I heard him first speak on the lawyers of Mylapore at the CP Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation sometime in 1996. A man with a wicked sense of humour, he has imparted much info on Chennai to me, a lot of it unprintable. Now I don’t get to see or speak to him as often as I would like to. He spoke at the book release and had the audience in splits. The old fire still lingers.


Went for the soft launch of Hotel Turyaa on OMR at lunchtime. My friend Ranjit Pratap, who has a stake in it had also hosted a display of vintage and classic cars organised by the Madras Heritage Motoring Club. The exhibits were great. HS Meena, MD of the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation was Chief Guest. The Chief and I spoke on the occasion, he on some lesser known cars of the city including his Lanchester and I on the companies that grew to become industrial houses from beginnings in car trade. There are plenty of that kind in Chennai – Simpsons, Addisons, Rane, TVS and UCAL being some. Even Ranjit’s Rayala Corporation began as Rajagopal Motor Works, started by his grandfather. Got to know of several more from interactions with the knowledgeable and passionate audience, at lunchtime. The hotel is nice and the food good but they could have had a better MC. She kept referring to S Muthiah as Subbiah Muthiah and me as Venkatakrishhnan Sriram (I realise that Wikipedia is responsible for this) and also said the Chief founded the Madras Book Cloob, whatever that is. She also wanted the audience to give a round of applaaas for every sneeze, burp and whatever else.

Back home at 3.30, it was time to get on with some work and then ho to The Park for the last (yippeeeee) of the Madras Musings lectures for the year. TN Venkatesh, IAS and MD of CoOptex had us all eating out of his hands with his brilliant presentation on the company. The staff had taken pains to study the venue two days earlier and so made good use of the space for displaying their wares including some rare pieces – Kodalikaruppur sarees worn by Thanjavur royalty, Muppagam sarees worn by Devadasis, the sadir saree worn at dance performances, a brocade shawl that was a duplicate of what was gifted to Leonid Brezhnev and several others.


This being the last of the lectures, the freeloaders had to stock up for the rest of year and so their behaviour was at its worst. Much grabbing, snatching, pushing, shoving and perhaps groping as well. AS Diwakar was lucky to get a glass of water. Tulsi Badrinath had coffee spilt on her saree and I think that was the nearest she got to the food. The Owl, who is also known as the Camp One tried to snatch a cup from a passing waiter and in the process nearly upset all the crockery the man was carrying. Had I not be there to hold the lot, Madras Musings would have had a hefty damages bill. The man who has a crush on Sushi took a selfie with her on the sly.


Diwakar after successfully managing a glass of water


Veteran jounalist S Viswanathan of Industrial Economist did the honours by presenting our music-loving Venkatesh a book on Semmangudi. After the talk many wanted to take photos with the speaker. I asked him if he can make as passionate a presentation on say cement as he did on CoOptex. He merely smiled but I think he can. There is no limit when you have a passion for excellence. May there be more of his kind.

And so, ladiez and gen’men, lets conclude with a round of applaaas!