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Vol. XXVIII No. 10, September 1-15, 2018

Madras Week, then & now

Vincent's Jottings

The first day of August.


Many many years ago, when the ‘Madras Day’ idea came to life; the idea that city historian S. Muthiah kept tossing about and friend Sasi Nair and I said, “Time to roll this Chief”

An idea that was simple – celebrate the city – its history, its people, its institutions. In simple ways. And voluntarily.

My enthusiasm flowed from the exciting experience of having curated, by then a few editions of the annual Mylapore Festival – which began as a Margazhi season kolam contest held at the playground of Lady Sivaswamy School.

And what a significant launch that ‘Madras Day’ was.

A 7 a.m. Walk inside Fort St. George, followed by daylong events at the grand Rajaji Hall, Government Estate (for many years in the 60s and 70s our playground in the backyard of our neighbourhood).

Much to our surprise, people kept streaming in all through the day, and that night we had the families of the dubash who is said to have brokered the ‘Fort land deal’ between the English and the region’s chieftain.

Over these years, ‘Madras Day’ has evolved, expanded,veered and blossomed. It has also been sniggered at, challenged, debated. . . that’s the way it has to be! But it now has a life of its own.

I call it a work in progress.

Because the way it works is fascinating for someone who is into it but also steps away from it.

All that a bunch of us, calling ourselves catalysts do is to send out a hundred-odd e-mails to people we believe are interested in the city and love to do things. That sets the ball rolling.

Simple things happen – as they have this season.

The promoter of two restaurants wants to gift Madras post-cards to his diners that they can post to friends. A foodie wonders why she does not locate any Food Walks on our calendar and then volunteers to curate one in her neighbourhood.

The Madras Local History Group hosts a series of talks – cinema-politics, Kannadasan and trees are themes. And an architect who takes a paper on ‘Urban Chennai’ for students at a premier architecture school is arranging a lecture and a Walk for the young ones.

I am not going to list ‘achievements’. Or make claims.

Madras Day/Chennai Dhinam is a celebration.

And if you have to express it any which way – a city of ours that is unique, a people so colourful – do it this month.

On your Tees, in your FB posts and pictures, in your conversation, in the way you live and work and unwind in this city.

Be proud. Why mumble and grumble ever too often?

Say it – Namma Chennai. My Madras.

And here – – you will find all the events for August. – (Courtesy: The Mylapore Times.)

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