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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 20, february 1-15, 2010
Our Readers Write

The park that pleaseth...

Walking at Elliot’s Beach in Besant Nagar has become a frustrating exercise, with crowds of hawkers, speeding two-three and four-wheelers, the fish market spreading a foul smell, the frequently overflowing drainage near Velankanni Church, men sometimes seen with liquor bottles and lying on the road, dogs sharing the space on the pavement and the lathi-wielding policemen everywhere.

Looking for an alternative space, one of my friends suggested that I should try Nageswara Rao Park in Mylapore. I followed his advice and found myself in a different world.

What is striking about Nageswara Rao Park is that there are no hawkers inside it, little noise, reasonably clean conditions and it looks to be away from the maddening crowd. Of course, young boys playing on the grounds in the park make some noise, but that is not revolting – and, in any event, it is only at one end of the park.

It takes seven minutes to do a round in the park and I went for seven rounds and saw every bit of the park. There is still space left for greenery. If this space is also utilised for more tree planting, the park would become more pleasant. Perhaps, it would be a good idea to involve the users in maintaining the park by urging each user to adopt one tree/plant. The name of the person maintaining the tree can be displayed in a dignified way near the plant. More bushy trees can be planted around the compound wall so that the visitors inside do not have to look at the outside world at all and can forget all commotion and pollution of Chennai for some time.

Even the periodic cleaning of the park can be entrusted to some of the users who would get an understanding and enjoy the dignity of labour. Nageswara Rao Park has all the potential to become “a role model” for other parks in the city. I congratulate Sundaram Finance for maintaining the park so well and hope they will go a little further and do whatever is possible within the limited space to make the park even more user-friendly.

N.S. Venkataraman
M 60/1, 4th Cross Street
Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090

Musings in the sabha-s

I read with interest the ‘findings’ of MMM after he did the sabha rounds during the recent Music Season. I am afraid, however, this coverage was more like the sensational coverage TV channels do of odd things. MMM seems to have mistaken the trees for the wood.

As a heritage representative, he has looked for heritage artistes and sabha-s. Next season he should visit such small sabha-s as Sastry Hall, Raghasudha, Petthachi auditorium, etc. There he will find the true music kutcheri–s, even if there are just 100 rasika-s in each place.

Young and talented artistes, such as Gayatri Venkataraghavan, Prasanna Venkataraman, Pantula Rama, Trichur Brothers, to name a few, held complete sway over the listeners. Even the senior citizens stayed put. Particularly with and despite no canteen in sight!

The present-day senior artistes too started in the same samll venues a few years ago and got promoted as janaranjaka (popular) artistes now. Like film music on demand, these senior artistes cater to the mass need. No harm in that.

The one impression that we ordinary music lovers carry now is that Carnatic music these days is in the safe hands (throats?) of young musicians and artistes. And that is saying little!

Y. Dandapani
2, Chandrabagh Avenue
Mylapore, Chennai 600 004

Kucheri memories

Kucheri watching’ (MM, January 16th) was very interesting. But, as an octogenarian who has been attending Carnatic music concerts in India  from 1936 and also abroad in the latter half of the 20th Century, I have some different views.

The Music Academy concerts in yesteryears in the special pandal in the P.S. Hindu High School grounds presented a simple but magnificent spectacle with very senior stalwarts like Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Ariyakudi, Chembai, Semmangudi, Chittoor Subramania Pillai,GNB and Alathur brothers, with scintillating accompaniments  from violinists Rajamanikkam Pillai, Mysore Chowdiah, Papa Venkataramiah and mridangam wizards like Alagan Ambi Pillai, Palakkad Mani Iyer, Palani Subramania Pillai and Murugaboopathy and ghatam maesteros like Vilvadri Iyer, Kodaanda Rama Iyer and Alangudi, singing and performing, from 5.30 p.m. to 8.30/9 p.m. with two mesmerising Thani Avartanams.

Although people might disappear into the canteens during the concerts of younger vidwans, I never saw anyone going during the seniors’ kutcheris. Also very few listeners indulged in thalam, more so if Palakkad Mani Iyer was the mridang-ist. In those days of male chauvinism, male accompanists kept away from senior female artistes until Mysore Chowdiah boldly came out and  accompanied M.S. Subbulakshmi,  and the first concert, with Kalpathy Ramanathan on the mridangam and Alangudi on the ghatam, was a resounding success.

In addition to the Music Season in Chennai, there are regular seasons in Bangaore during Rama Navami in April, the Swathy Thirunal festival in Trivandrum during Navarathri, and the famous Chembai Music Festival at holy Guruvayur
in November, all well patronised.

In the U.S.A., the Thyagarajah  music festival is observed in Ohio and yearly festivals are conducted in the Californian cities of Los Angeles and San Jose, to which many top notch Indian classical stalwarts are invited.

Dr. C.V. Subramaniam
1017/1023, Gitanjali Layout
Bangalore 560 075

Badgered in Chennai

With reference to a recent letter appearing in these columns on the plight of tourists in Tamil Nadu, I wish, like charity, courtesy to tourists begins at home. I refer to the many people from other States of India who flock to Chennai for medical treatment.

I have seen scores of visitors particularly from Eastern and Northern States and even from Andhra Pradesh near Apollo Hospital and Nethralaya Hospital who are badgered and literally taken for a ride by autorickshaw drivers.

These people come for medical treatment. Is it not the duty of Chennai to treat them with kindness and courtesy? I do hope and request that the Chennai Commissioner of Police details a few plain clothesmen to put a stop to this.

C.G. Prasad
9, C.S. Mudali Street
Chennai 600 079

Time’s choice

There is an error in Ramanan’s quiz (MM, January 16th).

Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2009 is Ben Bernanke and NOT Barack Obama as stated in the answers (Obama was Time’s 2008 Person of the Year).

Bhuvaneswari Sundaram


In this issue

They’re only transferring the road congestion
Great festivals – but they need greater promotion
The Sabha that made V.P. Hall its home
A landmark that’s gone
A festival to remember
Kuppams oppose expressway
Historic Residences of Chennai - 35
Other stories

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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