Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Madras

12 years after Madras was rechristened to Chennai, we still find people (including yours truly) who have changed for the most part to using Chennai in formal/informal, oral/written communication forms. But every now and then, analogical to the unstoppable urge to use our mother tongue, we use the word Madras.

There are a lot of things Madras. What I am about to talk about here in Madras String Quartet. Led by VS Narasimhan and joined by several artists at different points in time, this is one of the finest quartet style orchestras aimed at bringing harmony between Western Classical Music and Carnatic Music.

If you will, please try the album Resonance by MSQ. It’s a treat to listen to.

Back to Business

Every year starting April 16th, there is a ban on fishing in the Tamilnadu Coast from Thiruvallur to Kanyakumari Districts. Since scientists found fish breeding to be active in the eastern coastal belt during April and May, fishing by mechanised boats from Thiruvallur to Kanyakumari districts is prohibited between April 15 and May 29. The ban excludes fishing by country boats and catamarans.

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Business with Flowers @ Koyambedu Malar Angadi

Note: The result of interesting conversations with our flower-sellers.

To many, Chennai might seem a city of glass and chrome (or huts and slush if you look at it another way). Of multistoried apartments, software pottis, cut-outs, corporate structures, sweeping financial tides and sky-scrapers. Old-timers might mourn the loss of many traditions now long lost … but there are still a few left, which bring up a tsunami of memories. Not to mention the fact that a huge industry exists, based on centuries old tradition, right under our very noses. It’s composed of a set of rules, properly followed, a large turnover, and teeming hordes of industrious workers who make sure its wheels turn smoothly.

They’re the flower-sellers of Chennai.

They’re usually part of a blink-and-you-miss act in the usual routine of the average Chennaiite; they’re around in the mornings or evenings, dressed in well-worn saris, toting a huge basket filled with every kind of native flowers that the landscape has to offer. The women of the house are the ones who generally look out for these flower-ladies, checking their wares of jasmine, kadhambam, roses, saamandhi and every other colourful, fragrant blossom in the bloom-spectrum. And that’s just the first part of the process. The other consists of haggling over the prices, groaning over the steadily increased rates, sighing over the days when flowers were practically free, or grown in one’s gardens … and then coming to certain conclusions about what to buy, what not to, sharing some good-natured gossip about the worldly happenings, and then going each other’s way.

And that’s just the simple part.

What’s much more complicated is the intricate web of commerce that connects all of them together. Meenatchi, a 50ish flower-seller who frequents the streets of Alapakkam, is one of the important cogs that help the system run efficiently. She’s aware of the fact too – right down to the finesse of speech that categorizes down-to-earth people such as her.

“Selling flowers makes me independent,” she says nonchalantly, measuring a length of jasmine against her arm for Rs 10. “My children are all grown up now and settled – and I need a source of income to see me through. What I earn here is more than enough.”

Her days start early enough, and at Koyambedu, the perennial flower-market that’s the parent body for these smaller sellers. “I go around the streets surrounding the Meenakshi dental College, and right up to Valasaravakkam,” she divulges. “People are always fond of flowers – so I’ve no trouble selling mine.”

For Vasanthi, part of a sister-duo that takes the Nungambakkam beat, things aren’t so easy. “Where have I got the time to stop and chat?” she asks breathlessly, as I try to get her to into a conversation. “I’m up from 4 in the morning, and I have to get my business done by 7 AM,” she rattles, handing out bunches of roses and lotuses to a long queue of customers. Incredibly, her prices are even higher than Meenatchi’s. “Well, it’s a muhurtha day,” she explains, though her eyes drop. “And I’m already sold out – must get more from my sister.” She hurries away before I can question the atrocity of getting two lotuses for twenty rupees. “What can I do?” she calls out. “The prices at the market are so high.”

Deciding that this mysterious market of theirs warranted investigation, I made plans for an expedition to the famed Koyambedu flower-market, the common supplying-point for many of the flower-sellers that swept over the cityscape. Earlier based in Parrys, this focal point had shifted sometime ago to Koyambedu, a sprawling cement structure where I discovered, much to my amazement, that one entire building, the size of a good-sized southern Tamil temple, was wholly occupied by the Koyambedu Malar Angadi – the Flower Market.

Rose Heap

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In Words You Live: Stella Bruce

Writing legend Stella Bruce left us on Saturday. One more master of the pen, who produced classics such as ‘Adhu oru Nilakkaalam’ and ‘Panangaattu Annachi’ lost to us forever.

Rest in Peace.

Some do it better!

None of us, Metblog authors, have ever written anything like this. Not to my memory, at least. This is poetry in prose.

Tales of a Musical Trio

Listening to the Mambalam Sisters one evening, I was struck with inspiration – why not visit them? I was in See-people-when-you-can mode for a few weeks, and this interview was the result of that mental state (eh?). Chatting with them was surprisingly easy; my preconceived notions of uptight musicians stuck with their art was rather thrown out the window. What was more, they were eager to share things with me too.

As I push the gate open in a quiet street in Mambalam, the sound of music falls upon my ears, a young voice beginning the slow, steady ascension into the higher reaches of music. Twilight is falling around the tree-covered house, and I witness a scene of domestic clamour as I step in. A young girl is busy practicing music for the evening, while others run around with their homework, or eager to play.

Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

– Felix Mendelssohn

The_Trio_2.JPG

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Chennai Photowalk in Dinamani

Dinamani, the tamil newspaper, from the Express Group carried a report on The Chennai Photowalk.

The Fourth Chennai Photowalk
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The Third Chennai Photowalk & MGR’s residence

During the Third Chennai Photowalk, we came across the residence where MGR lived with his mother and brother during his early days when he was a small time actor.

The Third Chennai Photowalk
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Take a different walk

New Indian Express in its City Express supplement dated 23/01/2008 carried a report on the Chennai Photowalk
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Mylapore Festival – 2008

Mylapore Festival - 2008

Mylapore Festival, an annual event in Chennai in the month of January is sponsored by Sundaram Finance and organised by Mr Vincent D’Souza of Mylapore Times. This year the festival was celebrated from January 3rd to 6th, 2008
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