The press conference on 16th had an unprecedented turnout. We were rather overwhelmed by the number of TV cameras and mics. Muthiah, Vincent, Sushi Ravindranath, Padma Swaminathan (she of INTACH fame) and self fielded questions. A notable absentee was Mohan Raman who was stuck in a helicopter shooting for a film and couldn’t even make a flying appearance. I had to handle the Tamil bit in his absence and I must say that day by day in every way, I am getting better and better. Words such as marumalarchi, vizhippunarchi, panbu, kalacharam etc tripped lightly off the tongue. I am rather justly proud of myself and as always think with gratitude of my paternal grandmother who taught me the language.
Last evening, Bishwanath Ghosh, city editor of The Hindu and I were in conversation over his book Tamarind City and much else. The Bish and I are old friends and so it was an informal affair, staged in the prim and propah library of the Madras Club. It was not a hush-hush tete-a-tete and no librarian shushed us as this was to an invited audience. He is of course a Bong who has lived in Kanpur and Delhi. As he put it, he had no roots in Kanpur as he was a Bengali there. In Delhi nobody has roots anyway. And in Chennai he is just a North Indian. Calcutta is not home as though he speaks Bengali, he cannot sing Rabindra Sangeet. (What are his views on Bose would be an acid test. A true Bong believes that Bose is still alive).
Late last evening, I got the police permission for the heritage walks. They were very prompt and courteous on the whole. The quaint permission letter warns me that I cannot beat a tom-tom while doing the heritage walk. So I remembered to lock up my pipes, drums and fiddlers three before setting out this morning. We are a record 45 people, all having paid in advance like lambs.
Photos courtesy Suvashree Ghosh