Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Great souvenir, sells fast!

Now this thing sell like filter coffee!
The coffee dabara ( or its is dawara?) as a souvenir was a great idea and we introduced it some years ago at the Fest. 100 sets vanished midway through Day 3 and we ordered more from our source in China Bazaar in the city. They too sold fast - but without the Festival logo ( there was no time to etch it!).

We have ordered for these brass dabaras all over again and hope they will arrive on time to be sold at the Souvenirs counter ( opp. RASI store).

Challenges of holding a street festival

Holding a street fest challenges you - the civic conditions make you go crazy.
Imagine our team's plight this year - at every corner a civic contractor who was supposed to lay wide pavements and relay the mada streets has dumped and abandoned ( for now ) hundreds of these stones - they make for garbage dumps for people with no civic sense.
We are now employing civic workers to clean up the two main Festival venues. 
At street corners are dusty autos and mini vans which were sunk in the city floods - dumped like waste. We have top clear them too.
And as local resident V P Narasimhan keeps complaining - the nook off the chariot shed is a open air urinal - who is to clean up? We do for the Fest. Its a hard job. 
And yet, we love Sannidhi Street Square - outside the eastern temple gopuram. Great space for open-air recitals of any kind - folk, classical, dance, music . . 

It is a chaotic parking lot. Wish we can create a better space here.

Gracious hosts, this girls school . . .

The Trust and the school heads at Lady Sivaswamy Ayyar Girls School have always been gracious hosts - we turn to them to hire the main hall to host games contests/ workshops.
The old-time flavored hall is just the place for such events. Though it reverberates with chatter and laughs when the contestants go at the pallankuzhi and dayakattam games.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tips for young cyclists keen to explore a bit of Mylapore!

Here are few tips for teenagers who wish to join long-distance cyclist Ramanujar Moulana on the Sunday ( January 10 morning) 'Explore Mylapore on Cycles' tour.
# Bring your own cycles - they can be of any make!
# Please wear a helmet - it is good to own one!
# Carry hydration (water)
# Parents can accompany their kids - ride their own cycles!
# Assemble at start point (Rasi Silks gate) by 6.45am

# For any queries call Ramanujar : 9884023123

The artists who will exhibit small works

This is a small group. And has grown organically in this city.
Chennai Weekend Artists is of a dozen plus active artists who meet every Sunday at a pre decided place to sketch, paint or illustrate.
They have a few favorite hangouts - Semmozhi Poonga and Mylapore - though they have also explored a British era cemetery and Kasimedu fishing harbor.

CWA artists have been invited to put up their art works for an exhibition at the Fest - in the open, alongside the 16-pillared mantap outside Sri Kapali Temple. 
Photo featured here was borrowed from the CWA's FB page; it was shot at the group's recent art meet in Mylapore.

City deluge has not discouraged this dance troupe; it will perform at the Fest

If there is one group which will be at the Fest after a big hit from the deluge that sank our city in early December, it is that of dancer and guru Divya Sena.
Divya has her dance studio in West Mambalam; she was devastated to find mridangams, photo albums, song books, CDs and dance accessories had been damaged or washed away after the floodwaters ran into her academy premises.
This though has not stopped her and her dancers from continuing dance practice and the group has already staged a few dance productions this December Season.

Divya brings her well- executed 'Sri Andal Vaibhavam' to the Fest at the open air Main Stage on January 8 evening. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Mylapore specials to take home or gift

Ranjani Chandran is working the extra hours this Christmas hol to make sure the small creative souvenirs she is doing for the Fest get to us on time.

Key chains, danglers and a surprise product will be on sale as Fest Souvenirs.

Ranjani is based in Adyar. 'Craving to Create' is her banner. And she is an online creative entrepreneur.
It is her 'madness for Mylapore' that got her hooked her on to this souvenir proposal.

Featured here is a sampler of what Ranjani has done for you and me.

On sale at the Fest Info counter opposite Rasi Store. 6 to 9.30 pm on all four evenings. 

Food Walks / Now where is Gomathi Saiva Unavagam?

Foodie and Food Walk pioneer Sridhar Venkataraman is very serious about curating Food Walks - he researches well and his recce is done over time. So when the info on a  Walk is out, Sridhar posts a map marking the walk route and the spots where food will be tasted.
The map allows those who cannot join him to DIY alone or in groups!

Sridhar is hosting two Walks this Festival.
On Jan 8 and 9. More info at

Featured here is a picture of Gomathi Saiva Unnavagam - don't ask us for an address. You just have to ask residents of Mandaveli Street for directions.

Tiffin in the evening gets over by 5.30 p.m. Thats why the early start to the Walk, says Sridhar.

Less-known tales of Mylapore. On this Walk.

The Walks were the first set of events that fell into place.
That is because the people who know their patch are ever willing to curate and lead a Walk.

Passionate historian Venkatesh Ramakrishnan ( the author of the book - Gods, Kings & Slaves - Siege of Madurai - who lives in Mylapore was too happy to curate his own tour of Mylapore.

The day his Walk was posted there were dozens of people who promised to be there that Sunday ( Jan 10, 7 am). Start point - main gate of Nageswara Rao Park. Free.

Ramki says he hopes to share lots of less-known tales of the Mylapore he knows.

Alive a tad late! For 2016!!

We are bringing this Blog alive rather late. Just 10 days before the 2016 edition of the Festival takes off.

This edition of the Festival has been scaled down after the deluge that hit this city. We felt it was just not right to make a big song and dance about a street festival - though Mylapore was safe and dry during the deluge days.

So, this year we have the Main Stage performance events on all evenings, the traditional games contests indoors - for adults and for kids - and the popular kolam contests on North Mada Street.

With us, as always is Sundaram Finance, our sole sponsor.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Time to say goodbye.
And look ahead for 2016.

If you do read these notes and feel you have a role to play, ideas to share…..mail us -

To all those who did their bit - artistes, funders, volunteers, state agencies, people, businesses and the rest - we offer our thanks.

Support from state agencies was good

The Fest got a nod from quarters that need not be mentioned here. People who administer the state and acknowledge acts of groups who are serious about doing things in the public space.

It helped when Ramky, the agency which cleans our roads and streets put in extra hands to clear the streets and collect the huge waste the Fest generated.

Local police teams kept an eye on trouble-makers.

The state Tourism Department is being asked to do its bit in highlighting the Fest.

With more of such support, this Fest has more to do. 

Big Sunday rush

The Sunday community at the Fest was by far the biggest we have had at the Fest. Our estimate is that over 20,000 people must have experienced some part of the Fest on this holiday from the Kolam Display end to the Photo Exhibition end in the Chitrakulam area.

Thankfuly, we did not have law and order problems.

Yes, motorists had a tough time on East Mada Street. As evening fell, contractors were putting up a stage, erecting cut outs and hoisting flood - ,lights for a public meeting of the DMK party.

The Fest ended quietly - and we were pleased.

Ideas for 2016!

Even as the Fest ran its course on the final day, Sunday January 11, ideas kept popping up and being shared too. Ideas we could look at for Fest 2016.

V Sriram's Walk on ' Villages of Mylapore' had a corollary - a Walk/s on 'Exploring the Inner Streets of Mylapore'. Add in another - 'Visiting 5 Old Houses of Mylapore'.

A walk down the temple tank street where handworks of women were on display made us toss the idea of inviting south India's less known craftspeople here . For this, we will tie in with the Handicrafts Commission and hope it can host the groups - having teams from outside TN costs a bit and this Fest does not have the capacity to foot a big bill.

The Kolam Contests were managed by two sets of young people - a team of young women who do extra work to earn rupees for the family. And a team of boys who circulate the Mylapore Times newspaper.  Perhaps, we must invite the NCC cadets of Vivekananda College to lend a hand. Traffic  and security management needs a hand.

The huge response to the three Photo Exhibitions make us believe that we will host three more next year - themed ones. They will run into one Chitrakulam street. ( we hope local residents will accept us for four evenings!).

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Kolam Contest at 8 p.m.; what do you think?

This is a visual shot from a terrace of the first evening Kolam Contest. There were 80 participants and the carpet looked pretty good since all the kolams were designed such that there were no gaps.

The idea we are tossing is - can we hold a Kolam Contest at 8 p.m. under floodlights? Share your comments on this idea.

How do we expand Food Street?

Food Street was packed on Saturday - at least 10,000 people must have been there since 6 p.m. and we seeking suggestions on how we can expand the Food Street concept at the Fest.
This may ease the flow of people here.

Many families are put off by the crowds; we understand this well but we just don't have open space around to expand the Food Street umbrella.

Give us your ideas!

Write on your life….

Kedar Rao's booklet on Life in the Mada Streets of Mylapore is getting good circulation after his talk on Day 3 of the Festival. The event at Lady Sivaswamy School hall provided two seniors the stage to narrate their stories.

These are audio recorded and will be posted online as part of the Social History Project.

On Sunday, there were people asking for Rao's address to seek out copies. Seniors must be coaxed top write their life stories and these can be put out as booklets.

Mylaporeans also want to get involved . . .

There are many Mylaporeans who want to be associated with the Fest. That is indeed a good sign.

There are small ways in which they can get associated.

One such is Shantha's family which resides on Mundaga Kanni Amman Koil Road; we got to know that the lady of this house is also into catering while shooting for a docu-film on a silver-smith who was famed for his work in the region.  Shanta is related to this man's family.

We invited her to runs  food stall and help us extend the food services at the Fest which she did with ease. She also cooked pongal and made coffee for two sets of groups on Walks on Sunday.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The unseen Mylapore; morning walks suggested

The more you walk around Mylapore the more you learn of a past that is secreted in its streets and lanes. And we were rewarded with new sights as we joined Dr Chithra Madhavan this morning on the Temples Walk - it started at Sri Madhava Perumal Temple and ended at Sri Malleeswarar Temple.

Even as we listened to the guide and took in the facade of the temples we visited there were sights to behold, especially some old houses, some tiled, some terraced still standing between tall apartment blocks.

Most houses of the past stand on temple property and so survive grand construction ideas.
If you like wandering around the old areas of the city, come to Mylapore.

Enter the roads off Kutchery Road and wander through the lanes but make sure you walk slowly - Mundaga Kanni Amman Road, Bazaar Road, Arundale Road and the streets that run off them.

Rickshaw Engay?

We have made good use of a broken down cycle rickshaw that was dumped behind the chariot stand. We made an installation of it.

Rickshaw Engay?

That is the theme that we have put out and let people at the Fest give it some thought. The simple installaion is located near the Info Desk. My photographer colleague should share a photo soon.

If you are artistically inclined share an idea for Fest 2016!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The music in the park . .

It is 7.35 am on Thursday and the legion of walkers at Nageswara Rao Park in Luz is still small - the nip of the margazhi season seems to have been brewed by the early sun.

The first event of the Fest is 30mins old and the young singers are treating the audience of about 50 people to Thyagaraja's pancha-ratna kritis - keeping in tune with the aradhana in Thiruvaiyaru!

This is one of the events which has trailed a nice trend and history - since the first set of mike-less concerts were introduced as part of the Fest, sponsor Sundaram Finance has taken it as their own to host such concerts on the first Sunday of every month.

PR person Prabhu says close to 300 concerts have been hosted at the Chess Square. And some artistes who were here have gone on to get on to bigger stages.

Music in a park - always welcome. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A Mylapore-theme Run anybody?

The Festival excites many people. They stop us as we work at the site and share their feelings, their passions.

Suresh stops me outside Sri Kapali Temple - as I step out after enjoying my five minutes of a concert by N J Nandini in the mantapa inside.

Suresh wants to know if the Mylapore Quiz is to be held this year. We used to hold it till some years ago; then we held it back. Suresh says it was fun and informative. Makes us feel good.

Then he has tosses an idea - he is part of the city's Cool Runners, a community group of long distance runners whose base is the YMCA in Nandanam. Suresh wonders if his group can curate a Mylapore-theme Run? He sounds excited.

We hope to meet again to toss the idea for 2016. ( Some years, we held a Mylapore Hunt).

Love such impromptu meetings in the temple zone. It makes us feel good at end of day. Do share your ideas too!

Explore the village of Mylapore . . .

Have you walked down Mundagakanni Amman Street in Mylapore? The road that runs north off Kutchery Road?

If you want to get a feel of Mylapore's villages this is one zone you must walk into! There are parts here that live in the early 20th century.

On Sunday, I was taken into 5th Street ( or was it a lane?!!) and lo! had walked into an agraharam -styled colony that was built in the 1940s - a settlement where people had lived in huts in the late 1800s.

This is a colony that one of the most famous and busiest silversmiths of the city raised for his large family, many of whom live here in their own small, quiet world.

Natarajan was my guide - we stopped at the colony's temple. I was told the image here was found when the laborers excavated the earth in the 1940s. "In the 1940s, some women would sit on the porches and sell snacks and when darkness fell a civic worker would yank a rod attached to each lamp on Kutchery Road to light the lamps,' Natarajan's 92-year-old amma told me.

I need a full day's tour some time later to explore this zone with Natarajan.

But during the Fest, writer-historian V. Sriram is taking people on his Villages of Mylapore Tour. Sunday 6 am. Free. Don't miss it. More info at the festival site -

Great Masala Dosas, stuff you don't get in this city

Girish calls us a few days ago. I recall his quick call a fortnight ago referring to his friend who caters food from Karnataka. Come over to our Food Street, I urge him. He mulls.
Time flies and he calls again to share some photos of the famed Kambla races of man and buffalo at this times of the year in Karnataka.

What about the Bangalore Masala Dosa, I remind him. He says mmmm and gets back. His friend is ready despite the big time catering calls he must meet.

And we are happy that some great south and north Kanara food will wow guests at the Fest. If you get to sample it please post your reactions at the FaceBook page. The counter is open from Jan 8 to 11, 6 to 10pm. But food runs out by 9 pm! 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Palakkad cook, Catering College students join hands

This year, we have discouraged the use of gas and stoves to cook snacks on the spot on Food Street. And so many teams came up with interesting ideas to make sure the food on offer is wow.

One team is a combo of a cook who hails from Palakkad and a team of students at the city's government-run Catering College.

While the cook has a big menu on his list - from coconut and kottha-malli rice and aval payasam - the four young men from the Taramani campus are preparing to get an experience at serving guests at a street fest.

We like to involve different communities and are happy the Catering College youths are signing up.

Plea; let us keep mada veedhis clean

Please help keep our mada streets clean.
This is a plea that we often receive in the mail on the eve of our Festival.
People suggest that even as we plan the Fest, we must also try and ensure the zone is kept clean.

We do our little by cleaning the street space where we run events or set up shop. But our hands are few if we are to run a campaign.

We tell Mylaporeans that if a band of 10/15 dedicated people focuses on the issue and keeps at it through the year we can help. But such action is not forthcoming.

Yes, we would love to have great mada veedhis to make Mylapore's core look great but faint or event-driven campaigns will not help.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Suggest a great venue for solo classical dance

This year, we have given the Classical Dances event the go by. The event was held inside the Sri Kapali Temple - it has been held here continuously since the Fest got its bigger avatar!

We hope to present it next season in a different avatar and at a new, stunning venue. Guess where?

Planned; workshop on Kolams - for dummies

French artist Chantal Jumel has been in India for many years, coming here to learn Kathakali in Kerala and going on to study local culture and traditions.
She has in recent years made Chennai her home for a few months December onwards, pursuing many interests - studying ritualistic designs like kolam-s and kalams and the designs that Jains make out of rice.

She has been documenting the Kolam Contests at the Festival and this year, wants to do her bit for the Fest - head a simple workshop on Kolams, meant for those who know little on it.

The workshop, for an hour and free will be held on Jan.11, Sunday, 2 pm onwards. We are looking for a venue - more soon!

This Tee will feature an artist's work!

This year's MF T-shirt will carry an artist's work on it.
We have chosen one of the paintings ( one should say a section of the painting of artist and Dakshina Chitra staffer, Gita to be the main image on the Tee.

The work was part of a series that Gita did on a theme of music and dance.  But since it has multi-colours our Tee producers in Tiruppur are taking time to do the best of a tough order.

We hope you get to like the Tee. Buy it at the Info Counter at Sannidhi Square, opposite Rasi store at the Fest. Yes, we have some sets for kiddies too!

Dabra sells hot

One of the select Festival souvenirs that sold out fast and astonished us last year were the
coffee dabra-s. We solid 50 sets and had to order 20 more.
So this year, we have 50 sets ready for sale at the Info Counter opposite the Rasi store.

The Fest logo is imprinted on the debra and at Rs.200 it is a great souvenir to keep or to present some one close.

Look out for this among Tees, illustrations of Mylapore and some thing more!

Welcome to MF 2015

Welcome to yet another edition of Mylapore Festival, which continues to be funded by Sundaram Finance. The Fest this year is on from January 8 to 11 with about 30 events across 10 venues.

Every year, we the curators have to juggle two jobs in December - since we also manage a web site which focuses on Carnatic music and classical dance. December is the time for the world's biggest music fest of its kind and KutcheriBuzz covers it closely (

And we must draw up plans for this Festival.  This year we had to face a few hard hiccups but now, we are ready to roll out.

The Fest website - - has the details of all events. Do tell your relatives and friends across the city to mark the Fest dates. Be there!