Aug 22 – Madras Day dawned bright and hot. The weather was some 39 deg C – a second summer. Vincent D’Souza called and said he had permission for taking large groups between 7.00 am and 4.00 pm on any day up to September 1. I decided to conduct a walk there on the 25th. In the evening we had Mohan Raman speaking at Hyatt on Hindi films, made in Madras. A large crowd came. And the freeloaders had a field day. Rajagopalan Venkataraman pointed out a man who had eight gulab jamuns on his plate. The Wooly Headed Mammoth, which had been absent this year thus far, made its appearance and having filled (I really mean filled) its plate once with panneer pakoda, samosa and gulab jamun (around ten of each), and polished them off, lined up again for seconds. Vulture and Fox were there as well. So was Owl. Missing this year is Gorilla. Wonder where he is feasting. Raccoon is back in action, asking questions, though happily no-longer gynaecological ones. Sleeveless Wonder goes around these days in a shroud that looks as though it was last washed in Turin.
Mohan’s presentation saw a lot of interaction with the audience.
Aug 23 – This was one of those killer days. Four weddings, a Poonal, a panel discussion at Women’s Christian College, my speech on Pachaiyappa’s Will and an Embassy Dinner. So we divided resources. My mom attended one wedding, Sarada hopped in and out of two others, we did the Poonal together, escaping just before Sastrigal’s obligatory speech on what is expected of brahmacharis. That afternoon went to WCC where the US Consulate had organised a panel discussion on the ties between Madras and the US. My dear friend Chitra Veeraraghavan, the author and editor, Ramkumar, the chief of Cognizant Technologies and I were the speakers, moderated by the new Information Officer, Kathleen Hosie, who did an admirable job. In the evening it was Pachaiyappa’s Will. It was a very happy coincidence that Prof M Bharathan, who has written a book tracing all the vestiges of Pachaiyappa, was present and also gifted me with a copy of his book.
Sarada and I drove next to the Taj for the consular dinner. Met Ashok, my longstanding friend who works for the hotel and he wanted to know if I had come to dine at Southern Spice. I said no, we had come to attend the consular dinner at the ballroom. He said he would walk us over. We strolled across to find a Telugu engagement ceremony in progress. A quick look at my phone revealed that the consular event was a week away. So we ended up dining at Southern Spice. Food was great – banana dosa, Appam and idiappam with ‘ishtew’, followed by thayir sadam.