The Chief watches over Madras Week 2019

I feel like the Lady of Shalott – only I dont look upon Madras Week as a curse but it has come upon me as it has always done, when I am totally unprepared for it, and have 50,000 other calls on my time. And as always, I happily bury those 50K other items and get on with Madras Week.

As far as I am concerned, Madras Week is now Madras-More-Than-A-Month for my assignments began in July, with talks at a couple of Rotary Clubs. As is usual, the persons who invited me for the events had to be unavoidably be away on the day of the talks and I commend them on their good sense. But there were many others – both events had good attendance. And then we had the Press Conference on August 12th. On August 15th, on what will go down as the muggiest afternoon in Chennai’s muggy weather history, I took a group of 65 people on a walk themed Mylapore and the Freedom Struggle, aided and abetted by a battery of women – Sarada of course, like Abou Ben Adhem leading all the rest that comprised among others Ambujammal, Janammal, KB Sundarambal, MS Subbulakshmi, DK Pattammal and C Saraswati Bai. What would I do without them? Thank you ladies! We (the attendees, Sarada and I) ended up at Grand Sweets and Snacks, North Mada Street for basundi, samosa, rave khichdi and coffee. Came home exhausted and promptly developed fever which continued over the next two days.

But then Madras Week will go on regardless. Spoke on the 16th at the Freemasons’ Hall, my happy hunting ground for 2017, on some Masonic Links with Madras. Sujatha Shankar, spoke before me on the architecture and the state of preservation of the Freemasons Hall. Good attendance. Thanks to the advice of my dear dear friend, the Rt Worshipful (and many other things in Masonry) Master KRN Menon, I had the foresight to wear a jacket – the lovely Freemason’s auditorium is always kept at some degrees below freezing.

On August 17th, after having slept for much of the day, had enough energy to drag myself to Odyssey to launch Padmini Viswanathan’s Be The Book, a humorous guide on self publishing. Indu Balachandran was the host and Sita Ravi the other speaker. Sometime during the day, the Chief’s photo arrived, all framed, from Malvika Mehra and is now on my study desk. So all will be well.

August 18th, being the third Sunday in August was when the Sangita Kalanidhi elect gets introduced to the Experts and Executive Committees of the Music Academy. It ended with a lovely lunch (Pattappa catering). In the evening to Chamiers for the first of the Madras Musings Chennai Heritage lecture series. As always, many thanks to Mathangi Srinivasamurti for so readily hosting the talk. Tulsi Badrinath spoke on Swami Vivekananda and his Madras Boys. Good attendance. At my advice, Chamiers had restricted refreshments to outstanding coffee and cookies. The predators have not yet swooped down on the festivities but Woolly-headed Mammoth came, gnashed its tusks at the meagre fare on offer, downed a few cups of coffee and ate about a 100 cookies. It naturally had to get up in the middle of the talk and go in search of the toilet. Sleeveless Wonder also present. Tulsi Badrinath had accepted my invite to speak only on the condition that I point out the predators and so was delighted on being able to identify Mammoth and Wonder.


It was a blessing to have Swami Mahamedhananda and another monk from the Order of Sri Ramakrishna in the audience. I requested the former to give the memento too Tulsi. And so, tomorrow is another day.

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