The Man from Madras Musings has heard it being said that a truly great art has to be multidimensional, appealing to different people at various levels. In that respect, nothing can beat Carnatic Music in MMM’s point of view, for apart from catching hold of its aficionados (MMM has heard this pronounced as afficindo) via their heart, ears and minds, it also attracts people through their stomachs. This latter aspect, in MMM’s point of view is something that has not been given the attention it deserves.
Come December, so MMM is given to understand, a festive atmosphere prevails in Sowcarpet and other areas where our brethren from the northern parts of our country reside. The moment they find the concert schedules published in The Hindu’s 1st of December supplement, they begin planning their visits to the various Sabhas. Dates are planned weeks in advance and on that particular day, everyone gets ready in his or her Sunday best and leaves early for the venues. They need to be there in time to get the best seats. This is the day they have been looking forward to for weeks. It would be too bad if they arrived late and found all the chairs occupied.
Once at the venue, they all make a beeline for the canteen and order just about every South Indian delicacy they find. And having feasted, they move into the main auditorium, enjoy the air-conditioned atmosphere for a brief while, with free music to boot, and leave. Their stomach is their God, as a great humorist once wrote, and they sacrifice burnt offerings to it. The music is quite incidental to this gastronomic experience. Several in fact give the performances a complete miss, the AC notwithstanding and go home to sleep it off. A few don’t even know that there is a music festival going on.
Among the favoured venues is the Music Academy. With ample parking space, a large canteen and a central location, this is where the worshippers of food gather each afternoon in large numbers. And this year, what with Silken Father being the caterer of choice at this location, the crowds are even larger. MMM who is a fixture at the Academy was given to understand by Silken Father himself, that he is under considerable pressure to prepare this dish or that by these regulars. In fact, said Silken Father to MMM in burst of pride, some of these gourmands formed a social media group in advance, invited Silken Father to be a part of it and uploaded their favourite menus on it.