Aug 21/2019

Our Poster for Crazy Mohan event

A few hours before S Sowmya’s programme on the 20th for Madras Week, there was a call from The Park wanting to know if we had any specific social media publicity material for that event alone. That set me thinking and thanks to my dear friend K Ramkumar, we now have posters for all the Chennai Heritage Madras Musings events. In any case Sowmya’s event was houseful and as always, The Park was a perfect location, as always.

Smt N Panchali and I

I am now more or less fully recovered and so began to look at Madras Week with fresh enthusiasm. In the morning went and called on N Panchali, the centenarian granddaughter of T Namberumal Chetty, the builder baron. This was due to the good offices of her niece and we had a cosy time discussing Arya Vysya stories of the past. There were a couple of ‘rich’ ones and I was later amused at the way we all dropped our voices as though it were a current tale. The protagonists have all long gone. But got a lot of material for my walk on August 25th. Loved the way the grand old lady put her arm around my shoulder and blessed me.

Baradwaj Rangan with Maadhu Balaji

In the evening, after having cleverly dodged a couple of TV interviews, which I was quite sure would be full of the same inane set of questions on the city, conducted by a crew that has no interest whatsoever other than filling in a few bytes, went off to the evening’s Chennai Heritage-Madras Musings programme, which featured Maadhu Balaji in conversation with my dear friend Baradwaj Rangan on Crazy Mohan.

The venue was Hanu Reddy Residences at Poes Gardens (as usual had the standard calls – Sir, where is Poes Gardens?) and Nirupama, ye Proprietrix, in keeping with the lavish hospitality traditions of her Nagi Reddy and Hanu Reddy lineages, refused to entertain any ideas of just coffee, tea and biscuits. So there was bonda, rava khicchdi and coffee. My friend Ramkumar Shankar noted that Woolly Mammoth, after having starved for over three days, charged at the food, displaced Ramkumar and others patiently standing in line and grabbed up around fifty bondas in one go. Penguin came but was strangely silent.

Woolly Mammoth, as sketched by me from memory

The discussion was great, full of humour and exactly the way Crazy Mohan would have wanted himself to be celebrated. At the end of it, I was cornered by a Peter type who asked as to why Madras Week has so many Tamil-based programmes. I said we would ponder over it.

Late at night had a call from a breathless journo who excitedly announced she was working on a story (surprise!!!) on some historic retail outlets and would I give her a byte to the effect that these were iconic, wonderful, historic, need-to-be-preserved, etc. I said I concurred. There was a sense of expectation at the other end and so I asked if I could hang up. Whereupon she said she needed it in my own words and so I said these were iconic, wonderful, historic, need-to-be-preserved, etc. That satisfied her. Oh these small joys of life.