Madras on my mind… is an anthology of stories with Madras definitely on the Mind. When I saw this book at the GALF I toyed about picking it. After I met the couple who put this together I had to pick it up.
The book is a collection of short stories by different authors of varied age. Each seeing Madras through their own experiences.
Before the tide and the Tsunami, there was a bustling city with Moore Market, the Spencer circle. The Higginbottoms, the Marina beach, the Valluvarkottam, the mami’s, and music. The book brought back those memories to me. Each story awakening a memory to bring back a part of my childhood. Each author also brings a unique language and flow of their thoughts. Though the southern dry humour and the candour dominates the writing.
Some writer’s observation just stood out and made me read the book all over again. Like Juluri Vamsee talking about actress Jamuna her journey from Andhra to Madras, someone acts his mother’s role, while his own mother acted as some child-actor’s mother.
Anirudh Sengupta talking about American-Indian becoming Miss India though I am not clear if he was speaking about an ABCD or if he was referring to the indigenous people of USA. Anyway that is his trip; he brought back the IIT campus to me, the deers and the archway to the ultimate destination that I never made to.
Chitra Viraraghavan uses a term “mood out-an” again something that is so typically southern we seem to add an “a” and the entire intonation and the demeanour of the sentence changes from a formal one to peer bonding.
Kalpana Komal in her Rendungattan by the way the word had totally slipped out from my vocabulary with my grandmother who passed away in 1997, she brought back the shared pet peeves of the mami’s. She also brought back memories of a very middle class moralistic approach and of course we as teenagers having visions of the aunty in sleeveless blouse having an orgy with any masculine gender… as we listened to Paati and Pakkaveedu-mami gossiping about her. Kalpana’s observation that her mother used scolding as an expression of love brought back the incessantly reprimanding mothers.
G.Sampath’s short story from Triplicane to Taramani takes you through Madras in a very different way.
Anuja Chandramouli in her Appalling Lack of vice and spice in Chennai city, is pulls a string as its protagonist sits on the fence, of wanting the adventure but her upbringing stopping her stepping into one. the was wistful young person wanting to rebel but is conditioned to conform, she does not judge the people who do, she just wears blinkers to the existence of the vice and spice so that she remains quiet and nice.
The Rice and Fall of Royal Ramana Rao to become a movie producer, was quite interesting. House of powders by Sanobar Sultana talks of two things that I totally connect to “ra ra venu gopabala’ and the “rasam” somewhere her observation that her wearing a hijaab brought a shift in relationships did make me sigh. Hope we shall overcome that someday.
The experience of human behaviour in the last story by P.Balasubramanian was touching too.
After reading the authors here is my wish list for further reading.
- Chitra Viraraghavan –Delhi Tata hoping to gift it to my nieces and nephews.
- Dilip Kumar – The Tamil Story : Through the Times, Through the tides.
- Krishna Shastri Devulapalli: The sentimental spy.
- Sampat : How to make enemies and offend people.
- Juluri Vamsee: The mythologist
- Saraswati’s Intelligence.
- Rearming Hinduism.
Madras on my mind ISBN 978-93-5177-572-0 published by Harper Collins.