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!