Thursday, August 14, 2014

Connemara creates nooks of its history

The lobby of Vivanta Taj Connemara hotel had a surprise for us, people who are not frequent visitors to this place. In a corner, the wall was turned into a gallery of photos of the hotel and people associated with it.

Alongside was a set of two colonial-styled chairs and centre table, with a marble top. There was also a book of a few pages tracing the hotel's history.

A smart executive then led up to another part of the lobby side where a set of 12 photos of the halls and rooms of the vintage hotel were displayed.

More is being planned - a walkthrough for interested guests who will be offered some wine and given a quick history tale of the Connemara.

Nice little effort. One which our institutions can emulate; all those which are a century and plus old.

Australia, Armenia share their parts at press conference

The Taj Vivanta Connemara played host to the Madras Week press conference on August 13, Wednesday evening; it was attended by a  large press corps and by a few people who are hosting large events this season.

People said that the events had increased and so had the variety; guess the booklet of all the events brought out by Madras Musings must have wowed all those who leafed through it.

New this year is a app that is developed by Broadgate and funded by Sundaram Finance which gives all the info on all events, categorized and updated even as later reports come in.

There are two international presences this year - Australia and Armenia. Both have interesting links with this city and this will be showcased this year. The reps of these communities spoke at the press conf.

Close coverage by the print, social and TV and radio media has done a lot to promote Madras Week. Hopefully, this year the short reports and special features will double!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Local Area Walks; start one to add to growing number

Walking Tours seem to have taken off well and at last count there were 15 Walks for this season which is still small but a great positive.

And leading the Walks are not the same people who have done so for 10 years. There are new faces and new themes too.

Food Walks have got lots of attention following the mushrooming restaurants and foodies and lots of info on food in the city and writing too.  These Walks can multiply if local community elders curate a small Walk for say 45 minutes. A Walk need not be only led across history places and by specialists.

It took little effort to get alumnae of Queen Marys College to curate 2 Walks. QMC is 100 this year and the team is up and ready. But WCC has not yet.

And why aren't old boys and girls of St Patricks and St George's curated Walks inside their campuses? Or of Madras Medical College?

Anglo Indian Madras is part of 2 Walks and though the leaders have been slow to react we hope they will have a great time and crowd. And repeat them often.

Kottur and Velachery, Pudupet and Vadapalani among many other areas deserve Walks. 

Still, few events in north Madras . . .

The not so happy side of the celebration is the fact that hardly any events are taking place in North Madras and in the outlying areas of the city and communities there are still not warming up to the idea.

The groups which are keen to lend their hand to host events like talks, walks and contests say that they do not get warm invites from the communities and see the effort as a waste of time.

Groups out there who are invited to create events and even given tips and help drag their feet.

This trend does reflect on how the city sees itself and thinks of a day to celebrate its founding. Is there still a divide and does that run deep? How can one get over it?

Social History Projects; need for areas to start on them!

One of the grassroot level ideas that I have been sharing with community activists and creative people has been to build a Social History Project for each area.

It took root in a small way in Anna Nagar. A small group of architect and students made it possible with a collection of old pictures of the area, some contests and an evening where seniors here talked of the 'old days'.
I hear this project has got bigger this year and you will get to know more on the Madras Day site and on their own FB page and online.
Their collection of pictures are now close to 100.

I have asked people in St Thomas Mount and on Arcot Road, in San Thome, Little Mount and Royapuram to start similar projects. The start has been wobbly but the idea is still being driven.

You may want to start one for your area. Valuable step that goes beyond events and galas.