What a week it has been. It started with a dance and ended with a dance. It has been that kind of a week. Firstly on Friday, I was returning home from the gym nearabouts 10 in the night (yeah, my gym stays open so late- to accommodate laggards like me) and I happened to pass by the local Amman temple which had a big pandal/stage combo erected in front. And I stopped for a few minutes to check out the Light Music troupe (Lakshman Shruthi) playing local Tamil Hits. And before I knew it, before I knew what was happening, I was moving my feet and matching steps with a bunch of local, lungi clad dance masters, slow dancing away to “Venam Machan Venam” the latest hit. I mean, I seriously wasn’t aware for a couple of minutes about what I was doing, while they seemed to have noticed that I was matching them step for step and were clapping and encouraging me on to finish the dance with them. I did. But in some part of my brain, the sane part of me, kept murmuring “dude, you are a doc, you have a certain status in society. What are you doing dancing the dappankuthu in the road?” Well, when the song ended I left there a very popular man, being clapped and appreciated for my rhythm by everyone around. That was on Friday.
On Saturday afternoon around 3PM, I headed off to participate in a competition organized by a local foodie involving eating the largest number of Pani Puris within three mins at a specialized chat center in Purasaiwalkam opposite Abirami theatre. Unfortunately as only three enthusiastic participants had turned up for the contest, the owner of the eatery (and the sponsor) felt that it was not worthwhile doing the whole contest thing and postponed it indefinitely. Well, there goes my first food eating contest I thought as I returned home empty handed (and stomached).
And then on Sunday, my usual urban photography group assembled at Parrys Corner for the photo-walk. Although I have shifted my residence to Anna Nagar, I still can’t forget my early childhood in Parrys and this was familiar stomping ground for me. Or so I thought. But the reality turned different. And I was surprised at the number of improvements (?) made to an area I loved for its past. But you cannot stop progress can you? Although those old familiar landmarks like the YMIA building, the Armenian Church and even my ever favorite Minerva theatre had all been affected by the wand of time. Minerva Talkies, a landmark off Lone Square, because it exclusively showed English films only, although in recent years it had been showing only Jackie Chan’s Chinese dubbed into English martial arts movies, had now acquired the new name of “Batcha” Theatre. Which gave me a real pang, on seeing it for the first time. So many happy memories there, of watching movies with my grandpa. The old Palimar restaurant where I used to have Tiffin after my karate classes at the YMIA had now disappeared without a trace. The YMIA building still stood, but in a any-day collapsible condition, so much so that the caretaker took much persuasion to allow us inside to photograph it. The old Armenian Church still stands, but forlorn now, the only people to see the beautiful inside of the church, the last remaining Armenian caretaker in Chennai. Time spares no one and nothing. A lesson reminded so often to me during that walk.
And then onto Wednesday, independence day, where I was going back to the Landmark quiz afeter a break of many years. This year was one of the most enjoyable quizzing memories ever, because, I for the first time in a long time, I was going with the absolute knowledge that I was not going to get past the preliminary rounds. There was zero pressure on me, it was all for fun, all for participation and I couldn’t help remembering my last visit there. My former teammate Madhu, was an absolute dictator when it came to the landmark quiz. Every year, roundabout the month of May, she would get infected with preparation fever and kept getting on our (me and pradeep’s) case to start earnest preparation for august 15th. And although we used to divide topics and prepare sincerely, somehow she never really seemed to come up with the answers when we needed her to step up, in her alloted topics. And I guess, she was more of a successful manager, than a player, for she somehow got us through the prelims and onto the finals. Left alone, we two lazy bums would not have got there without that push from our teammate. So Madhu, if you are reading this I hope you do this managing job, full time in Melbourne. The Aussie’s should hire you as their cricket coach if they want to get back to no.1 and I will provide any reference you need- about your kicking butts training techniques. Cheers to you.
And as expected, this time -appearing with a new team and without any preparation, we did not progress beyond the preliminary round in the quiz. But thats ok. We were not disgraced and were just a few points away from the leaders. Later, we had a coffee to celebrate, before I excused myself from my teammates and headed over to Express Avenue in Royappetah for the next part of my program. I was in a kind of dilemma all the way till I got there, because though I knew what I was going for- a flash mob dance planned for the evening. I was unsure even after i got to the venue whether I would just watch and cheer the other dancers on or take part in the actual dancing. One of my friends had mailed me a practice video with the steps and I had spent a couple of days doing the routine a dozen times, but the uncertainty persisted till the music started. Once the other trained and rehearsed dancers got into full swing and then invited all on-lookers to join in and match steps with them, my body and my training took over and for a few glorious minutes I danced with gay abandon. From dappankuthu to western pop, I had travelled a full circle. And that’s how my week was, how was yours?