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(ARCHIVE) VOL. XXII NO. 20, February 1-15, 2013
Vignettes of the past – in pictures... & live
By Vincent D'Souza

The kolam competition.

How did the little colony called Thyagarajapuram in the heart of Mylapore come about?

The story goes that two dozen and more Carnatic music vidwans decided to purchase a little plot for themselves and did so in one place.

It was also the place where the Sri Thyagaraja Sangeeta Vidwath Samajam had taken root.

One of the vidwans in that group was the late Mannargudi Sambasiva Bhagavatar whose birth centenary was observed recently.

As his son Jayaraman dug into old files, he came across a few old photographs. One, of the ground-breaking ritual of the Sri Thyagaraja Sangeeta Vidwath Samajam. The other, of Sambasiva Bhagavatar and his family standing outside their humble abode.

Both pictures were dog-eared, tinted but clear and both are valuable. When copied, they were part of the Vintage Mylapore Photo Exhibition, one of the 20-plus events that make the 2013 edition of the Mylapore Festival, sponsored by Sundaram Finance.

Exhibition of Mylapore pictures of the past.

* * *

The Mylapore Festival is a sum of such little parts that reflect the colour, life and heritage of the place which is at the core of our city. And getting people and families involved gives it strength.

So, when we asked educationist Dr. Vatsala Narayanaswamy if we could host talks on the weekend evenings at her 1950s art deco bungalow, she happily agreed to play host.

In the same vein, the managers of Hotel Karpagam always reserve the extra big rooms for our artistes. This year, the 25 strong artistes of the Bhagavata Mela troupe from Melattur in Thanjavur camped here to present two productions over two nights.

And two of our regular resources, V. Sriram and Dr. Chitra Madhavan, led two different Walks on the Sunday of the Fest.

* * *

Elai sappaaddu in a Mylapore home.

The rickshaw tour – new lease of life for rickshaws.

Cyclerickshawman Krishnan is a tired, broken man at 70. Not the kind of man I knew some 10 years ago when he was chatty, game for a quick ride and positive.

Krishnan's life is entwined with the neighbourhood around him and I can understand why he looks so downcast nowadays.

Many years ago, we used to call the Krishnans and Sankars to help us organise Heritage Tours in Mylapore and in San Thome for Indians and foreign guests.

Since the route we drew up for them swung into lanes, temple zones and marketplaces and since Madras is 30 degrees plus the year round, looking at the old zones of our city was easier done by cyclerickshaws.

So we cultivated the Krishnans and the Sankars.

Today, this community has been greatly reduced.

The seniors who used to employ them moved out or gone to be with the Lord. The kids are now packed like sardines into drunken vans and not ferried in rickshaws, and those who do hail these ricks choose to pay only five or ten rupees for a ride.

Krishnan's life was entwined with a large Mylapore family. He was at their beck and call – dropping off the kids at school, taking the women to the markets and temples and making a quick buck in between. The family looked after him well – the rick was its on-call transport.

That family is no more and Krishnan looks like an orphan, ending his rickshaw rides at 6 p.m. and retiring home.

So, when we called him to be part of the Cyclerickshaw Tours during the Mylapore Festival, he was hesitant. But he did join. And so did two others.

They cleaned their rickshaws, set right their seats and scaled off the faded stickers and were ready for the tours.

These ricks are ideal for small, local tours and you get the best views of streets, houses and life all around from this seat. We should, therefore, consider giving the 'ricks' community a place in local tourism.(Courtesy: Mylapore Times).

Please click here to support the Heritage Act

In this Issue

City roads taken over
Government flip-flop
Our power crisis
The story of migrations eastwards
Vignettes of the past – in pictures... & live
The view from the Mount
On the trail of judges & lawyers
Enjoying ourselves at the Book Fair

Our Regulars

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


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