Monday, December 31, 2007

On the Mada Veedhis

Time is ticking.
And we have been checking out the Mada Streets to ensure they are in some shape.

This fest has to live in open spaces. And that is indeed the biggest challenge.

The kolam registrations are overflowing; we have a waiting list now.
The Pallankuzhi contests are full.

The Treasure Hunt registrations are over 50. Thats wow and this hunt is going to be fun and testing too.
And we hope to see lots of Mylaporeans at the Quiz.

But the action will be on streets.
Fine arts students, though on hols, are ready to paint the street red, blue and green.

The Food Street will offer a good mix - Chettinad, Kerala and Tamil Nadu food and snacks. The kol-kottais may run out by 7.30pm, we fear so we told Sridhar of Taste IT Foods to bring lots more!

We have some colourful lamps all over East Mada Street.

So, bring your friends and families to the Fest.
And please tell us what else we could create on the streets.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Santa can be a spoiler!

Yes. This isn't the best of times to confirm participation in a fest.

Christmas hols can spoil parties you have in mind!

Stella Maris' Fine Arts Dept has always been a welcome partner in our Fest.
But the unscheduled hols during the rains and Xmas hols, the students scattered and colleague Revathi has been tugging the phone lines to form the team.

Its working. And we also have a few neighbourhood creative minds joining them to create the Art Street which is a colourful place when the curtains go up on Jan.3 evening.

If you are young, creative and want to be at the Art Street, drop us a line; we have some space left.

Mylapore Quiz: won't be easy!

Ashwin Prabhu is the Quiz Master for the Mylapore Quiz 2008.

Holidaying in Goa, Ash who works for a private bank and is an ardent quizzer and a more ardent Mylaporean, didnt refuse the assignment.

"But aren't all the questions on Mylapore asked?", asked Ash.

I shook my head. How can a quiz run out of questions.

I didnt want to spoil Asfwin's party in Goa and we left it at that.

Just now we have run up a bank of 102 questions including 40 pictures which the Mylapore Times photographer, Saravanan, pulled out of his library.

And on Christmas eve we had 31 teams signed in and we hope we will have at least 75 teams when the D day arrives - Jan 6, Sunday.

Its much easy to crack the standard quizzes but a localised quiz sounds easy but can show up a lot of your ignorance!

No, we dont plan to have a tough quiz. Ashwin should get some fun quizzing that afternoon.

So if you are a quizzer or a Mylaporean, sign on now.

This is the first quiz of 2008 in the Quiz Capital ( is Madras the capital anyway?)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sound and Light withdrawn;sorry!

We had to decide on this. 
With some components of the planned Mylapore 'Sound and Light' show  getting delayed we decided to withdraw it.

It was a difficult decision. But since it was a first time event and there were many strings to it, we said 'withdraw'.

But the project will build in 2008 and may even premiere in early 2008.

We hope to have with us folk troupes from Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, courtesy South Zone Cultural Centre, Thanjavur.

Also, Subham Ganesan has withdrawn from the Food Street.
For the Fest, we will have different kinds of food on offer from different sources.

Big attendance at Pallankuzhi Workshop

Five events were on at the P S School campus on Saturday, 22nd.
Ours was so different from the concerts and sales elsewhere.

And it throbbed with life.
I was good to see many children eager to learn more about pallankuzhi from resource person Dr. Balambal at the 2nd workshop.

We hope each contest ( there are two) will have at least 100 people.
That will indeed be a crowd to manage.

After kolam, it has to be pallankuzhi.

Is there some other game / art you feel we should promote next year?
Tell us here!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Contest for Cooking Smarties!

This idea came in a flash.

We were planning the Food Fest on Sundareswarar Street ( it is messy and we will need to sweat to clean it) and then this came up.
How do we involve people in this act?

Cookery Contest? We had one last year and the response was good.
But this time, its different.

We invite people to send their recipes to the Food fest organiser. Recipes on dry snacks - east to make, but daring in idea and keeps to tradition).
He will select a few and even had them made and served each day of the fest!

So, all you people who love cooking, take a shot at this.

Mail your recipes to - Subham Ganesan at 210, St. Mary's Road, Mandaveli, Chennai. You can even drop it off at his store.

The best will get hampers.

Spread the word. Lets get about 50 recipes.

Tell your grandma about this.

Monday, December 17, 2007

We need volunteers!

Yes, we need another dozen. Ten should do.

Revathi, my colleague, hosted a meeting of the first set of volunteers.
12 attended it at the Mylapore Times office on Sunday last.
All of them have been given assignments.

One senior woman who lives on the Mada Veedhi wanted to work all four days!
Great spirit.
She also wanted to take part in the Pallankuzhi contest!

Since some events need 2/3 volunteers, we'd love to have more Mylaporeans in.

Call Revathi now on 98405 44629.
(Avoid calling between 10 am and 1 pm; that time is for working on the December season!)

All volunteers get a Fest Tee. And some goodies.

Sound and Light Show

We hope this idea works.
It is new to 2008 at the Fest - a sound and light show on the core of Mylapore.

The focus is on the temple and the Mada veedhis.

Sounds simple but the butterflies are around and about!
For, there are many components to this show.
It has dance and music, it has video and docu-film, it has mime and narration.

And two dozen people are involved in it.

Sujatha Vijayaraghavan, scholar and arts activist, is working on the script.
Dancer Sashirekha Rammohan is directing the dancers and actors.

Dancer Priya Murle should have done the Mylapore kuravanji. But she's busy with the 'season' so she will guide another dancer with this delightful piece. 

Another dancer, Gayathri Balagurunathan, is also busy on stage and will present a piece on Goddess Karpagambal, through her dancer colleagues.

Mohan Das Vadakara has been out with her camera shooting. And if Nagaraj cuts the film well, there is a delightful cameo docu on one of Mylapore's colourful streets. Which one? Wait for the show!

I am hoping we will do well with this. Pardon us if we slip. Once sharp and smart, this is the kind of show we should have up every weekend outside/inside the koil.

The show is on every evening at the Fest.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

2008 edition rolls

Pardon us for arriving late here.
The 2008 edition of the Mylapore Festival should be with us soon.

We have been keeping pace with the famed December season here in Madras.
And it is a challenge.

We started work on the Fest in late August.
Planning on paper is easy.
Making things happen isn't.

Some things have worked this year around.

RASI, that landmark store on Sannidhi Street, has made peace with us.
Its owner Jayaraman had a long chat and promises to lend a hand for the fest after holding it back these past years.
Which means there will be space for more seats in that quadrangle and a clear pathway for people who wish to shop at his store and those who head to the temple.
Thanks Jayaraman; it pays to work together.

The managers of RR Sabha on Sundareswarar Street have also promised to plan the construction work here so that we can have our famed Food Mela out on the street.
RR Sabha's  grand old hall was pulled down a year ago and a new one is coming up.

The Food Mela is a great hit and we will have Subham Ganesan back with us on the street.
The special menu list will be out soon. 

New at the Fest - Mylapore Quiz, Mylapore Treasure Hunt, Mylapore Sound and Light Show, Pallankuzhi Championships and a new heritage walk of old houses.

I've got to run off now to check out the owners of a few houses for the walk . . .
If you have suggestions to make, shoot them!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Old Mylapore Pictures

There is a SOS from St. Bede's.
Father Rector wants to make sure a book I borrowed has got back to his library.
It is a precious book of sorts - a rare copy of a souvenir of St. Bede's silver jubilee event held in 1932.

We at Mylapore Times have been literally grabbing old tomes with pictures of local people. Because we hope to archive all that is about Mylapore at least from the 1900s.

So when I drove my photographer Saravanan to bore into the dusty drawers of local studios, he landed at Sathyan Studios which survives on the fringe of the Thirumailai MRTS railway station.
(Hopefully, it will need another post to retell Sathyan's history)

We have not found a treasure trove but we do get a few simple pictures which should make it to the photo exhibition we planned for the Mylapore Festival.

We wish we had some enthusiatic Visual Communications students from the city campuses to do the dirty work to raise such an event. Saravanan does it tirelessly though I drive him hard.

In the end the exhibition, mounted off the fence of the Sri Kapali Temple tank, is a huge success. Every evening scores of people stand to stare.

They laugh at a 60s portrait of Cho Ramaswamy who still had a mop on his head then; They wonder how Lal Bahadur Sastri could have driven to Mylapore and stood inside an open car at the east gopuram of the temple here and sought donations at war time.

Saravanan has also displayed pictures of Mylapore Festival 2006 and keeps posting fresh ones of the Fest as it rolls.

I only hope more Mylaporeans will spare their lovely old pictures for the archives we have in mind - pictures of weddings and trams, of Luz Corner and Bazaar Road.

If you do have a treasure house of them, email us at

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A parallel show

It happens always as the Mylapore Festival buzz spreads. Quickly, street hawkers, toy makers and home based caterers head to the Mada Streets here.
And set up shop.

On Pitchupillai Street, the Art Street of the fest, a shop keeper, coaxes his wife to run a stall which sells all sorts of religious booklets. The 'panchu mittai wallah' lands up and spins money with the pinky fluff. More Narikuravas spread their beads and chains and sell fast.

On Kumaraguru Street, which runs alongside the temple wall, a family which resides here, pull out tables and begins to sell steaming iddlis and hot vadas. As the street fills up with people gawking at the stuff that woman members of the Self Help Groups are selling here, the snacks disappear real fast.

We snap an idea on observing this - let's have more food stalls all around the Mada Streets and Fest venue - food is always the hot seller you see. And it sells fast on the street.

Now we know why the Janal Bajji and the Kolakottai Mami shops in this area are so popular for their simple, tasty local food.

Now tell us, what kind of food would you like our caterers to serve next year? Your feedback will be really useful.

Off the Streets !

January 11 morning.

The Mylapore Fest is a thing of the past. Calendar wise.
I never got the time to blog but I want to jot down thoughts that must go on record. So pardon me for the rewind.

One image stays in my mind.
The folk dances of the students of CSI School of the Deaf, San Thome. Principal Rebecca has warned us that she and her colleagues have a church service to attend at 7 pm. It is a Sunday! So we better keep an eye on the clock. ( The best thing about the fest this year is that all the events run from one into the other without a long break).

Kannan Kumar, a respected folk artiste and guru, has been training the CSI children for 4 days for the fest. Every year, we invite schools to send their best dance / music groups to perform at the fest on the main stage. I remember the year when the Vidya Mandir dancers landed up. They had a 30 strong group of cheer leaders who rooted for the troupe from the far end!

So how do these hearing handicapped young girls and boys dance to music they cant listen to?
They dance to the beats and to body movement!
It is certainly not an easy task. Rebecca and her team of teachers stand below the main stage and each of them signal to a set of dancers on stage. On cue, the girls and boys swing to the movement of the hands of their teachers.

There are tears in the eyes of some people in the audience. It is a touching experience.
The image remains in my mind too.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Students, techies and kids at the festival

We had pleasant surprise when an Orkut community came in to volunteer for the festival.
Many are students in professional colleges and few are just into their first jobs.
Sharanyaa who kept 'scrapping' the other community members, continued to pass on the contact numbers of many youngsters ready to volunteer for the festival.
The team, Sharanyaa, Krishna and Venkat at the Nageswara Rao park was amazed at the enthusiasm of the kids participated in the Art contest and workshop. The kutcheri and the folk dance on the Chess-square of the park just rocked the park last evening. The team is up till Sunday!

The hospitality volunteers Raghav and Rahul are game for providing anything! Be it buttermilk or lunch, Rosemilk or Bondas. The team is seen shuttling between the restaurant and the main stage. The friendly hotelier and the restaurant managers are new faces for them. At the end of the day, the team bids bye with a smile!

The Arts Street on the Pitchupillai is managed by Vimal and the dances inside the temple by Saranya.
And yes, the website maintained by Prasanna and friends is updated everyday. Don't forget to drop by!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Walks are becoming popular

V. Sriram warns me that he will be able to manage only 25 people on the first walk - the music heritage walk scheduled for January 5 morning.
Sriram seems to have had a hectic concert-hopping 'season' and may not have the energy to throw his voice across to 50 people.

We have hosted this walk many times before and it gets a good response. But many people request us to start only at 7 am. "Its a Sunday na!", they say.

Sriram is travelling south, perhaps hopping down to the aradhana in Thiruvaiyaru that weekend, so we had to schedule this walk for a Friday.

We are starting out at 6am. So we suggest that you should wrap up well. It is chill and we would all like that chill to remain in Chennai at least till February!

P.S: The other two walks are on Sunday, Jan.7

Big rush for Kolams!

It feels good to know that the Kolam Contest of the Mylapore Fest is hugely popular.
In less than a week, registrations for both events - on January 6 and 7, had to be closed.
Volunteer Priya Ravi, who has played a key role in organising community events in her backyard in Kotturpuram, handled the registrations.

It feels nice to recall here of the time, over a decade ago, when the first kolam contest was held in the playground of Lady Sivaswami Girls School in the Chitrakulam area. When we found that the contestants grew restless while the judges had backstage discussions, we thought it would be a good idea to host two cultural events.

Since then, the contest has grown into a fest.

We had the entire North Mada Street to hold the kolam contests. Which meant that we had about 175 people creating what would become a carpet of kolams in less than an hour.
Some store owners on the street did not like the idea of closing traffic for an hour. So we had to respect those objections and narrow down the kolam space.
Now we can accommodate about 125 people. And that includes about 20 children.

So all those who did not get to hear of the kolam contest in mid- December, had to be disappointed.
We feel bad about turning them away.
Perhaps you may have a solution to this - how do we accommodate everybody in the Mada Streets area?
Write to us now!