Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Coaxing Presidency College . . .

If you haven't, please do check out the EVENTS section of Madras Day 2008.
The first list is out.
But we'd like to see it packed.
We should have info on the weeklong talks that 'Madras Musings' is hosting across the city.
S. Muthiah and V. Sriram have put them together.

This year, there will be a weeklong programme in Royapuram - talks, shows and performances on the city at the Ramanujan Museum complex.

Info should be on the web site by August 1.

But what is your community doing for Madras Day?
I put this to Prof. Amarnath of the History Dept. at Presidency College.
He has promised to take his PG students on a  tour of that part of the city.
What about the History departments of Loyola, MCC, WCC?

I realise we really haven't got the colleges linked-in here . . .
IIT-Madras is celebrating its golden jubilee . . .would the IITians come up with something for Madras Day?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cycling Only Days?

How about 'only cycling' days for Chennai?

Well, Congressman and community activist 'Americai' Narayanan hopes this can happen. At least in some small way. He emailed his plans and we suggested some thing of this sort for Madras Day 2008.

Narayanan says 'yes' and hopes to host an event.

We also hope Madras Bike Hash group who do the ECR stretch dedicate a run thro' the city for this event.

If you belong to a club, think of a simple event for the city and push it through. Mail us to share the buzz.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Design the Chennai T Shirt!

The city lovers still place their orders for the T-Shirt that was produced during the Madras Day 2007.
The design of filter 'kapi' served in traditional 'dabara-tumbler' was designed by Shreys R Krishnan, a student of NID Ahmedabd. She won the prize in the 'Design a T-Shirt contest' and was invited to come out with a unique design for our city.
We are waiting to see more designs this year.
If you haven't tried your hand at designing a T-shirt for your city, here is a chance. Last date for submission - Aug.10, 2008

Have a look at the sample designs here:

Read this document on Scribd: tshirt contest

Do you want Madras Eye?

Lets have your suggestions on this one.

Madras Eye isn't that irritating eye infection that strikes us at monsoon time ( Chennai hasn't had it for some year now . . But then have we really had great monsoons? )

Madras Eye is a Madras Day creation. We hosted it in 2006, I think.
We posted a video cam at 2 different locations - on the Marina in the morning and in Mylapore after 11 a.m. and linked it to the Net. (thanks to ChennaiStream)

Which meant you could see the city 'live' on August 22. Anywhere in the world.

We plan to click on the cam on August 22. From 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. We have a few locations in mind - Marina, Parrys Corner, Mount Road, Egmore, Gemini, Besant Nagar and Pondy Bazaar.

We need inputs from you.
1. Better locations perhaps? (Or you can host the cam!)
2. Sponsor the effort.
3. Volunteers to hold the cam!

Write in!

Walking Tour of Madras Port?

This is my second short at it - getting a tour of the Port off the ground. And not into the sea!
My friend Manoj V. Joy, once a shippie and how an activist in that area, gave us a lead.
And so we have met the Principal Officer at the MMD and he seemed positive.

We are hoping Port Chairman Suresh will support the idea. And the PO will coax him too.

A port with 150 years of history behind it certainly needs to host a walking tour. ( Check this link - ).

And more so when most of what is left of another century on this campus will be lost forever as the development of a new port begins this year.

All we ask for is an hour-long tour which can have a few stops, led by an enthusiastic Port guide. At the Wednesday meeting at the renovated Seafarers Club located opposite the RBI, I learnt that ASI has a wing on the Port campus. Will they be our allies?!

The old Port of Mumbai has a monthly walking tour with the first stop at a small but nice museum. Now, Chennai can follow this example. Starting with Madras Day 2008.
If you know the Port chairman well, can you coax him please?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Docus on Madras; collection drive

We want to build a nice library of docu films on Chennai.
And Madras Day is giving us an opportunity to start a movement.
A movement to produce films on this city.

This year, we hope to screen at least 10 films at Sastri Hall in Luz.
Tentative date - Aug.24, from 3 p.m. onwards.

Most of them will be docus that have been produced in the past.
The quality will vary but this doesn't matter.
I just remembered Latha Menon ( who makes ad films and docus ) had made a film on the restoration of the tank of Sri Marundeewarar Temple in Thiruvanmiyur via a INTACH project.
The project had to be sustained. Wasn't. And today, the state is dumping lorryloads of clay on the tank's bed. Just to ensure rainwater is retained and devotees are pleased.
Architects say this is a foolish idea. Water must percolate and recharge the ground and then find retention. . .

Perhaps, with this development, I will need to run off and shoot the recent development. So that it would be an addendum to Latha's docu, shot about 5/7 years ago.

If you know of people who have docus on anything to do with Chennai - the arts, people, institutions, civic issues, communities. . . . do ask them to contact us.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Civic issues also have a space

Karen Coelho called me. The first day of the power cut provided her time to talk about Madras Day.
Would a campaign on sidewalks in our city also find a place in Madras Day, she wondered.
Karen teaches and researches at the Madras Institute of Development Studies in Gandhi Nagar, Adyar. She is also a community activist and has worked on issues like water and public spaces.

Karen and her team have in the past done audits of pavements in some parts of the city. One was in Thiruvanmiyur. The audit also looked at access provided for the less abled as places like the MRTS stations. The results were shocking.

So Karen is wondering if she can raise this issue during the week when we focus on our city. Why not?

Madras Day/Week isn't only about talks and walks and contests.
It is also an occasion to raise issues that affect us. 

Karen wants to talk to college and school students and civic organisations to chalk out a plan.
If this is an issue you want to link in, you mail contact Karen at -

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another little book on the city . . .

A sparrow tells me that another little book on the city will be out in mid August.
The focus is on heritage houses.
Could be 50 profiles.
To be released during 'Madras Week'.

Walks, talks and more; info on Aug.1

Patience please.
Madras Day regulars want to get all the info on the events.
Murali of BSNL dropped by to check out early alerts. He is the sort of person who will hop across three events all in one evening and enjoy the exercise!

Next week, we hope to post some tentative events. V. Sriram mails to say there will be a series of talks in central Chennai and in north Chennai across the week. Look out for the post.

At least 7 walks have been finalised. One of Chinna-dari-pettai (Chintadripet), another of the Marina (Sriram who will lead it has called it ' Women of the Marina'), two inside Fort St. George, one on Mount Road, one in North Madras (around the Mint area), one of three railway stations (Egmore, Central and Royapuram).

There could be 5 more!

Keep checking out . . .

FM radio stations; get them going . . .

Raja Marthandan and Kunal Koushik of Big92.7 FM came by to see us today.
Madras Day was on top of the chat.
The duo promised to bounce the idea at their weekly meetings . . .

FM radio stations are perhaps the best media to create the buzz for such events.

Last year, All India Radio dedicated 8 hours on one of its FM channels to programmes dedicated to the city. It surprised us.

We hope with 10 plus stations in this city, the programming will be exciting

If you know of RJs and radio station honchos, do tell them to dedicate a week in late August to Chennai.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Chennai Photowalk plans . . .

Chandrachoodan is another passionate Chennaiite.
And he promises to host at least three Photowalks in August.
Great news this is.

The Chennai Photowalk is Chandra's idea (
Every second Sunday, Chandra leads about 30/40 people down a colourful/heritage/shopping/green/unknown/strange neighbourhood of Chennai.

Most walkers carry cameras, click lots of pictures and share all that they know of the place.
Some go on to post these pictures. Velachary Balu is a well known face and so are his pictures.

More info at Chandra's blog -

Chandra has this weakness for the 'rising sun'. So his walks start at about 6.12 a.m. So you will have to sacrifice your Sunday snooze if you want to be on the Madras Day- Chennai Photowalks!

A docu-film on Mount Road

I meant to do take a walk down Mount Road this Sunday last. 
To prepare for the Heritage Walk scheduled for August 24 morning.
I dropped that in favour of the Chennai Photowalk of St. Thomas Mount. 
Almost. And didn't do either!

I better do a recce midweek because there is a stream of  postings on my blog on Mount Road.
Stories, experiences, anecdotes.
I have invited everyone who has stories to share on this road to join us on the walk - we may have to arrange for a car to transport the elderly . . . to ensure that this Walk turns out to be truly a community Walk!

Our plan is to walk from Simpsons to Spencers and am hoping the sudden rise in daytime temp to 38degrees doesn't persist in August.

The more I hear about Mount Road the bigger the temptation to document this road on film.
Do you think a docu-film is a great idea?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Heritage Walk of Film Studios

A walk of the film studios of the city would be a big draw.
I tried to get film writer and historian Randor Guy into it.
Randor isn't biting. He says he has lots of writing to do - he begins work at 3.30 a.m.!
I am not giving up.

Our idea is to have a trail from Vijaya Studios to Prasad Studios via AVM's campus.
The people at these three places will welcome us. But we need people who worked in the studios in the 50s and 60s to join us and share stories.
We also need people who worked here and lived closeby to share stories of this area.

A film editor has promised his notes. But who will lead the walk?

Two walks have been firmed up. One inside Fort St. George on Aug.17. And one on Mount Road on Aug.24.

It would be nice to have a walk in Vepery and Purusawalkam. Are there old-timers who can put this together? There are no costs involved in this! Plan the walking tour, let people know and go! If some one can sponsor coffee and snacks, the walk can end on a warm note!

Plans roll for Madras Day 2008

Madras Day 2008.
August 17 to 24.

So what has been lined up for this year's celebrations?

Walks, talks, exhibitions, films, contests . . .

We are making an attempt to get communities in the city's neighbourhood's to get involved.
Perhaps this is one way of spreading the celebration.

We emailed a group of active residents in Kilpauk. How about organising a Sunday walk of the old parts and end it with coffee at an old bungalow? We hope there will be a positive response. . .

My colleague Sashi Nair has put up a programme in Vadapalani. Hotel Green Park will be the host. Readings, a puppet show and a talk on ' Temples of Chennai' by Dr. Chitra Madhavan.

Putting together an event isn't difficult.  
A walk around the neighbourhood which has a past is certainly a nice start on a Sunday morning. Get senior residents to meet, do a recee and then lead the walk and share stories along the way.
If your local school can share its hall, you could organise a talk on a city-related topic. Look around and I am sure you can locate a great speaker. A film professional, a police officer, a journalist, a community activist . . . give them time to work on a theme and I am sure you will have a great evening.

My friend D. Hemachandra Rao of Virugambakkam has a huge collection of everything related to ships. He is also a senior philatelist. Rao has been an active host of Madras Day events.

Rao has been documenting the Buckingham Canal, which runs north to south, from Andhra Pradesh to Marakkanam. Last week, he drove to a few nooks along the Canal to take pictures of the giant levers and gates used to regulate water in this once-navigable Canal.

Rao hopes to exhibit these pictures at an exhibition. If you lend him a hand and help on creating a PP package, the Canal can be a theme for a talk.  His contact no is - 98408 70172.
Rao would love to loan pictures of the Canal as it was 50 years ago. Can you help him with leads?