Last week end I had my regular dose of Madras history and more. Attended the Madras Book Club Meeting where the topic of discussion was Madras History. The two speakers Sriram V and Randor Guy were knowledgeable, informative and interesting.
Sriram talked about Veena Dhanammal and her house in North Madras. For the uninitiated like me, Dhanammal was a famous Veena player, who hardly ever gave a public concert, who never had any other instrument accompanying her concert and was considered the most gifted human being to play a Veena. Her grand daughter was the famous danseuse Bala Saraswathi. Sriram gave many interesting anecdotes about Veena Dhanammal and bemoaned the fact that there is not even a plaque mentioning that she lived in that house. This is apparently because the land lord is afraid the government will take over the house and convert it into a memorial.
Randor Guy was not like what I had imagined him to be. A tall, bald, avuncular man with lot of information . He spoke about his passion - movies, specifically about S.S. Vasan, AVM and Karunanidhi. There were a lot of trivia I came to know from him. Vasan is the only producer to have given 7 consecutive silver jubilee movies in Bollywood (yes you read it right, Bollywood); AVM produced his first movie in Calcutta which was a flop because the sound track and the video were asynchronous; there is a Thiagaraja Bhagavathar Rasigar Mandram in USA (mainly of Srilankan Tamils); Vasan didn't have enough money to take a train to Madras, so he cycled all the way from Trichy to Madras. Randor Guy is a veritable goldmine of information on Tamil movies.
Myself and CCG participated in the Madras Day Quiz held in PS Higher Secondary School on Sunday. There were 30 questions, and the last team to get selected for the finals had got 17 marks, atleast that's what the quiz master said. On counting I found that we had got 20 correct and two half correct ones, but still did not make the cut. Maybe there was a counting mistake, whatever. But it was an interesting quiz, despite some dud questions from the quiz master. Had to leave after four rounds. When I left the team of Srinivasan & Avinash were leading by miles, probably they won the quiz. Once I reached home, I jotted down the questions and to my surprise I remembered 29 of them. So, I am not as old as I think I am.