If there were a sickest Madras Week in all of its 15 years this would be the one at least as far as I am concerned. I have been coughing, sneezing, wheezing and struggling my way through all the events.

On Monday 19th dragged myself to office for half a day and then returned to get ready for my talk on Medicare in Chennai. This is my new topic, something that I have written about in detail in my forthcoming book, and as the Chief would have said, I am flogging it as a presentation 🙂 Went at 4.00 pm to the Press Institute Taramani to deliver the talk. A good attendance with among others the renowned orthopaedic surgeon Dr K Sriram and the gastroenterologist Dr Sandeep Murali in the audience. A good discussion followed with Dr Sriram in particular adding some valuable nuggets.

The discussion on Tamil Stand-Up Comedy at Amethyst for #MadrasWeek

From there rushed to Amethyst and made a photo finish of sorts, reaching at 7.00 pm to start off the Chennai Heritage-Madras Musings event for the evening – a discussion of Tamil stand-up comedy put together by Rosella Stephen of The Hindu, my dear, dear friend who always helps out each year. The panel comprised Vinodhini Vaidyanathan (anchor), Annamalai L, Jagan Krishnan and Guru Nicketan, all names to reckon with in the arena. It was a good discussion, the anchor having planned her questions really well and the participants replying with a mix of serious analysis and humour. I live streamed it on Fb and there has been a parallel video recording which I hope to upload on YouTube soon.

Reached home in a state of collapse. Decided that the events need a greater buzz on social media. This excellent Tamil Comedy programme had an audience on 60 people, aged on an  average 80. And so began spreading the word on the 20th’s programmes. By late night it became clear that we would have a full house for Sowmya.

On the 20th, after having remained abed for much of the morning (o we socialites), mustered up the energy to go to the US Consulate for the inauguration of the S Muthiah Memorial Corner and the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Consulate Building. For the first time drove my car in – and then realised I had no idea as to how to open the hood of my car, as demanded by security. There we were, Sarada and I, in the car, which in turn was in a cage of sorts, with men sniffing all over it. We were eventually let through.


US Consul General for Chennai Robert Burgess, Minister K Pandiarajan, US Ambassador to India Ken I Juster and I at the 50th anniversary celebrations

The programme involved release of a documentary on the US Consulate Building, in which I am one of the speakers, my brief being to speak on the history of Cathedral Road. My part begins with a long shot of me walking down, which as always is a horrible waddle. The ceremony was nice and short – Ambassador Kenneth I Juster, Minister K Pandiarajan (who was once my trainer in the Bullet-Proof Manager series and who I always admired for his corporate success and his social mission) and I, jointly inaugurating the photo exhibition on 50 years of the building – it is a lovely collection of black and white pics. All three of us spoke and then the Ambassador declared the S Muthiah corner open – it is a collection of his works and also books of the era that the Chief particularly was fond of.

S Sowmya and I in conversation

In the evening I was in conversation with S Sowmya at The Park – full house, great conversation and warm audience. The diva was in her elements. And so back home to some hot dal and rotis and then to bed.

The cutting off of all refreshments except coffee and tea, at my specific instructions, at venue after venue, has raised the behavioural standards quite a bit. Vulture is gamely making it to session after session and downing coffee by the gallon. Sleeveless Wonder arrived Sleeved yesterday and actually asked an intelligent question to Sowmya. There is Penguin – always suited in this heat, that is a new addition to my menagerie. It follows me at all my events and asks questions with a clearly self-promotion angle.

The barrage of daft messages continues –

  1. Sir, you have said the event is open to all. So where can I register?
  2. You have said it is in this hotel. Where inside the hotel will it be?
  3. Sir, you have announced a walk at VR Chennai. Where is the walk to be?
  4. Where can I park my car when I come to your heritage walk?
  5. I want to conduct an event for Madras Week. Can you please approve it?

And so on.

Join me on my heritage walks for Madras Week

The Chetties (and others) of Chetpet  – 25th Aug, 4 pm 

Storytelling Walk at VR Chennai – 24th Aug, 11.30 am