Archive for June, 2007

The Sivaji Phenomenon

I think every one from Madras(I still prefer to call it that way) can feel proud of the movie Sivaji. Not because it has the Superstar as the hero. Not because it is directed by none other than Shankar, the man behind Gentleman, Indian, Jeans etc. Not because it has the Mozart of Madras aka AR Rahman wielding the music. Not because it is produced by one of India’s oldest production houses viz. AVM. I think this movie has put Madras, and the tamil movie industry not just on the Indian map, but the world map. For the last 10 days, the only programmes I see on NDTV, CNN-IBN, Times Now and the likes is Sivaji; the movie, the excitement and the popularity across the world starting from Chennai. Reuters had it on their news scroll. BBC on their international feed. iTunes had the Sivaji ring tone on it is home page, a first. Tickets in Europe are being sold at 20 Euros plus, and people the world over are googling Rajnikanth, Chennai, Kollywood to know what Sivaji is all about. In Madras the movie has opened in a record 16 screens with initial 10 day collections of close to Rs. 17 million. 20 shows a day in Mayajaal (a city based Multiplex) alone, and an estimated 65 shows a day. I haven’t seen such frenzy for any movie in recent times. And the movie is already a runaway hit, expecting to cross 1000 days in Madras. It can’t get better for the industry as a whole.

No flights for the disabled?

Thanks to low cost airlines, air travel may have become accessible to the common man. But to those with a disability, unfair conditions still apply.

Rajiv Rajan, NGO activist and cerebral palsy patient from Chennai, was refused permission to board his aircraft by the airline he was booked into – Air Sahara – on the basis that he didn’t have a ‘fit to fly’ certificate. But guess what, he’s flown several times before. Next Spice Jet was approached. Again he was refused.

So the flights departed leaving behind a disappointed Rajiv Rajan, and a tragedy that’s a lot worse than disability itself – society’s attitude towards it.

Now don’t say “Iyyo paavum” and turn away. Let the about turn begin with you.

Click here to read the full story.

Click here for another insightful article on the same issue.

Chennai: International city

That Chennai is on the global map is without question, with a large number on international visitors for both business and tourism. However, other than the stats released by the Airport Authority of arrivals growth in the 20s, there is very little public recognition that Chennai is indeed, an international city in its own right. So I was very pleased to see just this kind of recognition in the current issue of Newsweek. The magazine has a section towards the last few pages tiled ‘4 hours in’ where they profile different cities from across the globe for the international traveler. The purpose is to give such visitors an idea of what they can do that’s interesting and intrinsic to the local culture and life in just four hours. I’m reproducing what Newsweek had to say about spending four hours in Chennai. I’m sure you’ll find it interesting!

The Big Metroblogging Chennai Lunch Meet

Wouldn’t it have been fun, if it did occur?
It didn’t. Instead, GV Balasubramaniam Chenthil, David and I met for a leisured lunch, at the old haunt – Mathsya, in Egmore. Much fun was had, well, as much fun as 4 people (instead of the promised 8) could. *
We discussed, among other things, the politics of the DMK and Maran family split, failure of the SPIC enterprise, cost of a dosai in Saravana Bhavan Peter’s road vis-a-vis the cost of the same dosai in Saravana Bhavan Dubai (the Dubai outlet is cheaper by about Rs.20) and the business that Sivaji, the boss, will generate. We also discussed the relative merits of ordering an Udupi Thali and the ambitiously named Raja Raja Cholan Dosai. (Perhaps the only time Raja Raja Cholan failed to deliver big on a promise)

We also disussed share market prices and the benefits of going to a real-person broker, but I fail to see what merit it has to the readers of Chennai Metblogs. Oh, well!

Well, then. To the review of Mathsya.

The best mango shop in Chennai?


In the days when we used to live on Mandapam Road in Kilpauk, we used to walk our dog in the vicinity. One of the roads we used to take him down fairly frequently was Taylor’s Road. So it was with some interest we saw a shop come up on the edge of a large compound with a bungalow. No it wasn’t on the sidewalk. The owners made a gap in the wall and created the shop, and, lo and behold, it had the most luscious mangoes at reasonable prices!

Little known lights of Tamil Nadu

Was on the prowl online, on Sunday after a 3 day break from connectivity when I chanced upon an article in The Pioneer. Titled “The last Gandhian in Tamil Nadu” and written by P Anantha Krishnan, it is a brief but inspiring story of a lady named Krishnammal. Not suprisingly you won’t see her on any banners, posters or billboards in Chennai. But her actions speak much louder than those who need to proclaim their sweet nothings.

Click here to read “The last Gandhian in Tamil Nadu”.

Summer showers bring much needed respite

Yesterday dawned bright, humid and hot as usual, but by mid-morning, the clouds had started building up! Around lunch time, the first scattered showers started in the suburbs to the West and South. By two in the afternoon, it was raining heavily in places like KK Nagar to the West, while a cool wind blew across the city, bringing welcome respite from the heat. While the skies were pretty overcast to the West, it only drizzled in Adyar, much to everyone’s disappointment. But the temperature has dropped noticeably, and hopefully, will begin a slow downward movement in the days ahead. Lets just hope there are more showers in the offing!

Catch someone doing something right!

There are so few people who are pleasant, thoughtful and courteous in public places that it makes sense to appreciate them to encourage more such behaviour. I’ve come across policemen stopping traffic to help an elderly person cross the road and have given them an appreciative smile. You should see their faces light up in return, knowing their act of thoughtfulness was appreciated. You can be sure that they will do it again! Similarly, there are so few people being thoughtful or courteous on the road that it will absolutely pay to appreciate a good turn. Think I’m exaggerating? Next time you’re driving, or riding your two-wheeler, stop for some pedestrians who’ve been waiting a long time to cross the road, and see their response! Most will look at you in total shock and suspicion, but there are a few that will smile at you in appreciation. Do enough of that when appropriate, and hopefully it will encourage more people to do the same. In a bus, get up for an elder and see the respect you will get, even if the elder, embarrassed by your generosity, just looks sternly out the window! More than anything else, rest assured you’ve brought some relief and happiness into someone’s life by these little acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. That will certainly count in the here after don’t you think? More than anything else, if it results in a slow adoption of similar behaviour, can you imagine what Chennai will be like? After all, that’s what makes a city livable- a sense of community and caring. Call me whatever you want- an optimist, a romantic or what ever, but just try it. Please?

Flame of the Forest

Flame of the Forest is an original play inspired by the ever green classic ‘Sivagamiyin Sabatham’ by Kalki. The play is staged by Just Us Repertory in association with The Madras Players. For more details click here.

Mangoes can be injurious to your health!

Surprised? It’s true. Four years ago, during a good mango season, we gorged on the delicious fruit. I think we were having a giant Banaganpalli mango each after every meal other than breakfast. After the season was over, and we stopped eating mangoes, I discovered that I was quite light headed between meals. Then it got worse, I would loose my balance when walking or if I stood up suddenly. This used to happen at about 11 AM or 4 PM. A visit to the doctor revealed the cause- I had hypoglycaemia, a pre-diabetic state. The tremendous intake of sugar during the mango season (in the fruit) had, apparently caused my body to produce more insulin, and when the mangoes ceased, the body continued to produce the high levels of insulin so that the blood sugar was broken down rapidly, leaving it at a level below normal. Therefore the light headedness, loss of balance etc. The solution? One had to exercise regularly (which I was used to doing), and ‘graze’- eat light snacks between meals, which also had to have complex carbohydrates like chappathis as opposed to rice. I was able to stave off diabetes by following this advice religiously. The combination of rice and mangoes is particularly harmful, as both are highly glycaemic, that is, they both result in high levels of blood sugar. Its no wonder that such a high percentage of us, some 30%, are diabetic. Well there, now you’ve been warned. Enjoy the mango season, but in moderation. Especially if you’re over 35 years of age!

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