T.N.Seshagopalan @ Nayaki, Chennai

Venue: Abhirami Chidambaram Community Hall, River View Road, Kottur, Chennai

Date: 27 Feb 2007

Organizer: Nayaki

Vocal: Sri T.N. Seshagopalan (TNS)

Violin: Sri M.A. Sundaresan

Mrudangam: Sri Vellore Ramabhadran

Tambura: Sri Vaidyanathan


List of songs:

1) mAyAtIta – mAyAmALavagowLai – rUpakam – tAnjOre ponnaiyA (OS)

2) mAtE malayadvaja (daru varnam) – kamAs – Adi – harikEsanallUr muthiAh bhAgavatar (A)

3) brOva bAramA – bahudAri – Adi – thyAgarAja

4) srI kAntImatim – hEmavati – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (A)

5 ) punnagai onrE pOdumE – hamsAnandi – Adi – ambujam krishnA (O)

6) rAmachandra nI daya – suruTTi – Adi – thyAgarAja (A)

7) taNigai vaLar – tODi – kanDa chApu – pApanAsam sivan (NS)

8 ) enta muddO – bindumAlini – Adi – thyAgarAja

9) rAgam tAnam pallavi – nAyaki – Adi (2 kaLai) (T)

pallavi wordings: “nI padamulE gatiyani nammiti, srI ranganAyaki”

kalpana swarams in nAyaki, rEvati, bEgaDA, Ahiri & behAg

10) krishnA ena bAradE (viruttam) – maduvanti

narajanma bandAga – maduvanti – Adi – purandaradAsa

11) alli vizhiyAlum – mAND – Adi – aruNagirinAtar

12) dhIm tadara tAni (tillAnA) – bilahari – Adi – ariyakkuDi rAmAnuja iyengAr

13) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

14) sriya kAntAya (slOkam) – srI

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

In contrast to his fast paced start to yesterday’s concert at Sri Ananthapadmanabhaswamy Temple, TNS started today’s concert with a slow paced “mAyatIta swarUpiNi” followed by a slow paced “mAtE malayadvaja“. This slow speed combined with TNS’ ability to bring out the raga bhava so beautifully resulted in a great listening experience right at the beginning of the concert.

The first major alapana was that of hEmavati. During the alapana, TNS introduced graha bhedam so very subtly right in the middle of a cascade of fast patterns that it was almost impossible to recognize where he exactly started it. He took rishabam as the base note and sang bouLi and then came back smoothly to reach hEmavati. Smt. Ambujam Krishna’s composition “punnagai onrE pOdumE” was sung beautifully and hamsAnandi was brought out so well both in the raga alapana and in the kriti.

TNS then quickly launched into an alapana of one of my favorite ragas suruTTi. Sri M.A. Sundaresan played a very impressive alapana in reply. TNS then started one of my favorite kritis in this raga “rAmachandra nI daya” and sang it in a pace that was neither fast nor slow. It seemed just the right pace to bring out the beauty of raga suruTTi. The sangatIs that TNS sang for this song with full involvement were very beautiful. The way he seemed to be pleading to the lord through this song, especially at places like “tallaDilla nyAyamA” (is it justifiable to make me suffer) was so very touching and moving.

The next song was “tanigai vaLar” in tODi. The best tODi I have ever heard is the one sung by TNS. Though he didn’t sing an alapana today, the way he brought out the raga in the song itself was so nice. He sang multiple sangatis for the charaNam line “tuLLi viLayADi varum tOgai mayil mElE” and sang “tuLLi viLayADi” in so many different ways as if actually depicting the many ways in which the words could be pictured in one’s mind.

The main song for the day, the RTP, came after the bindumAlini composition. TNS indicated nAyaki very clearly right at the very beginning of the alapana (I am referring to the difference from darbAr) by elongating the nishAdam and gAndhAram with gamakAs while coming down. He immediately went on to use “pa da pa sa” while going up to further confirm that it was indeed nAyaki. If one still had any doubts, he/she could take a look at the banner behind TNS which clearly spelt the sabha’s name “Nayaki” (which happened to be the day’s main raga’s name too). What a beautiful alapana it was !!!! It lasted for about 15 minutes and if that is something one doesn’t consider too difficult a duration to sing a nAyaki alapana for then he/she must note that not even a single extended pattern that TNS sang seemed to get repeated anywhere else in the alapana. Add to that the fact that rasikas were kept glued to their seats with interest for every second TNS sang the raga. The tanam was even more magnificent. Sri M.A. Sundaresan again proved his mastery with the violin here.

The structure of the pallavi line was as follows (B=beat; starts 0.5B before samam): nI (1.5B) pa (0.5B) da (0.5B) mu (0.5) lE (1.5B) ga (0.5B) ti (0.5B) ya (0.5B) ni (1B) nammi (1.5B) ti (+ gap = 2B), srI (1.5B) ran (1B) ga (0.5B) nA (1.5B) ya (0.5B) ki (0.5B). Total count = 16B = 1 avartanam of Adi talam (2 kaLai).

This is the fourth TNS concert I attended in 4 consecutive days. Every concert was different in the choice of ragas and kritis. TNS made each and every one of these concerts a great listening experience. I must confess though that today’s concert took the cake. It was probably the best of the four. The violin accompaniment today was also the best and of very high quality. Hope TNS gives concerts daily and hope I get to hear each and every concert ….. certainly too much to ask but then I see no harm in at least dreaming about something like that.

T.N.Seshagopalan @ Ananthapadmanabhaswamy Temple, Chennai

Venue: Sri Ananthapadmanabhaswamy Temple, Adyar, Chennai

Date: 26 Feb 2007

Vocal: Sri T.N. Seshagopalan (TNS)

Vocal Support: Sri T.N.S. Krishna (TNSK)

Violin: Sri V.V. Ravi

Mrudangam: Sri Trichur C. Narendran


List of songs:

1) aparAdamula nOrvA – rasALi – Adi – thyAgarAja

2) sAdinchanE – Arabhi – Adi – thyAgarAja

3) sArasAksha – pantuvarALi – Adi – swAti tiruNAL (ANS)

4) chEtasri – dwijAvanti – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (A)

5 ) gAnamUrtE – gAnamUrti – Adi – thyAgarAja

6) pankaja lOchana – kalyANi – misra chApu – swAti tiruNAL (ANST)

7) bhajarE yadunAdam – pIlu – Adi – sadAsiva brahmEndra

8 ) tillAnA (tanam tAra dirana?) – behAg – Adi – ??

9) vijayagOpAlatE (mangaLam) – suruTTi – Adi – nArAyaNa tIrta

10) sriya kAntAya (slOkam) – srI

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

The concert which was supposed to start at 7PM started at about 8:10PM (TNS was apparently stuck in traffic). It was a long wait for all those who had assembled in the packed hall in Sri Anantapadmanabhaswamy Temple and by the time TNS started, most seats around me had become vacant. However once TNS started, his magic took over to give me another one of those great experiences of listening to him sing. The mami who sat next to me compared TNS to the flute wizard Mali who also used to come in late to concerts but used to capture the heart of rasikas once he started playing.

TNS began with the fast paced “aparAdamula nOrva” and “sAdinchanE”. The pantuvarALi alapana that came up next was beautifully executed in true TNS style. The father-son duo of TNS & TNSK, with some good support from Sri V.V. Ravi and Sri Trichur Narendran, took the concert to a totally different level during the kalpana swarams in the kriti “sArasAksha”. Its always a great experience hearing them both at work. The detailed dwijAvanti alapana that lasted for about 15 minutes was a real treat to the ears. Sri V.V. Ravi played a short and sweet version of the same. Just when I thought that “chEtasri” was the main song of the day and that TNS would launch into neraval and kalpana swarams, TNS ended the song and moved on to sing “gAnamUrte” which led me to speculate on a possible RTP. A beautiful alapana of kalyANi followed next and Sri Swati Tirunal’s composition “pankaja lOchana” was sung with neraval and kalpana swarams at “sundaratara rUpa”. TNS sang a tillAnA whose words I couldn’t get properly as the entire tillAnA got drowned in the sounds of “nadaswarams” and “tavils” coming from the temple procession that was happening outside. The fact that the hall had poor acoustics didn’t help either. TNS finished the concert with a mangaLam in suruTTi and a slOkam in srI.

Three TNS concerts in three days …. life’s good.

T.N.Seshagopalan @ YACD, Chennai

Venue: Mylapore Fine Arts Club (MFAC) Hall, Musiri Subramaniam Road, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 25 Feb 2007

Organizer: YACD & Sri Krishna Sweets – “Chennaiyil Tamizh Isai”

Vocal: Sri T.N. Seshagopalan (TNS)

Vocal Support: Sri T.N.S. Krishna

Violin: Sri S.D. Sridhar

Mrudangam: Sri Srimushnam Raja Rao

Khanjira: Sri B.S. Purushothaman

List of songs:

1) nIyE charaNam (viruttam) – nATTai

gaNapati tALai – nATTai – chatusra Ekam – subramaNya bhArati (O)

2) sAmi mayUra giri vaDivElA – khamAs – Adi – kavi kunjara bhArati

3) annavayal pudhuvai ANDAL (viruttam) – pUrvikalyANi – uyyakkonDAr

kUDArai vellum – pUrvikalyANi – misra chApu – ANDAL (A)

4) thaDitha Or maganai (viruttam) – sahAnA

appA nAn vEnDuthal – sahAnA – rUpakam – rAmalinga aDigaL (?)

5 ) siru viralgaL thaDavi parimAra (viruttam) – chArukEsi

kuzhalOsai kETka manam – chArukEsi – misra jampa – ambujam krishnA (AST)

6) ArabhimAnam – rAgamAlikA – Adi – tanangambaDi panchanAda iyer

7) kaNmaNiyE sollaDi – kApi – Adi -mazhavai chidambara bhArati

8 ) yEru mayil – suruTTi – chatusra jampa (kanDa gati) – aruNagirinAtar

9) tadara dIm tana (tillAnA) – nirOshTa – Adi – madurai t.n. seshagOpAlan

10) suragaNanAthanukkum (mangaLam) – suruTTi – Adi – ??

11) vAzhiya senthamizh – madyamAvati – Adi – subramaNya bhArati

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

I simply do not have words to describe this beautiful concert of TNS. It even overshadowed the great concert which he presented for Hamsadhwani in Adyar, a day back. If God sang, he would probably sing like how TNS did today. The strong percussion support that TNS had today in the form of Sri Srimushnam Raja Rao and Sri B.S. Purushothaman made this concert all the more enjoyable. The way Sri Raja Rao played for some of the slow songs that were replete with lyrics is commendable.

The way TNS beautifully sang one raga after another is something that is very hard to describe. So many beautiful patterns were highlighted in the viruttam and in the song in nATTai. The raga alapana of pUrvikalyANi, though much shorter than the extended versions that TNS usually sings, was a delight to hear. sahAnA was brilliantly sung. However the best among the best of alapanas today was that of charukEsi. When TNS sang the viruttam “siru viralgaL thaDavi parimAra”, I could actually feel and visualize every word of what he was singing. The way TNS sang the song that followed with special effects provided at many places like “nI Udhum kuzhalOsai” is commendable. I could actually feel the yearnings of the composer and could almost visualize Lord Krishna come as a child and play the flute in front of my eyes !! TNS sang the words “kU kU ena kUvum” like a kuyil (kOyal). The kalpana swarams in this song witnessed a brilliant round of kuraippus replete with excellent calculations. Sri B.S. Purushothaman especially did an excellent job reproducing whatever calculations TNS used in his kuraippus on the khanjira while playing along with the violinist. The taniAvartanam comprised chatusra and tisra naDais and a good round of kuraippus.

“ArabhimAnam” was sung beautifully culminating in a round of single avartanam kalpana swarams in the different ragas that formed the ragamalika, with each avartanam ending with the raga name. “yEru mayil” proved TNS’ grip over layam. Each avartanam of the chatusra jampa tALam in kanDa gati (total 7 taps with the hand with the kanDa gati counting done silently) was sung to have two lines of the song. The first line was sung in chatusram to fit in the lagu part of the tALam (4 taps with the hand). The second line was sung so as to fit within the shorter anudrutam and drutam part of the tALam (3 taps with the hand). TNS then reversed the order fitting the first line within 3 tappings and the subsequent line within the remaining 4 tappings of the avartanam. The song itself was based in suruTTi, one of my favorite ragas, which meant that I was completely lost in the melody and rythm combination doled out by TNS.

The concert was preceded by a felicitation function and a few speeches. The idea of Chennaiyil Tamizh Isai is to have one Tamizh Isai concert in Chennai every month for the next 12 months. The first in this series was the one presented by TNS today and the whole series was inaugurated today by veteran singer Smt. R. Vedavalli. The other artists who are scheduled to perform in the series at the same venue are Sri Sirkazhi Sivachidambaram (25 Mar 2007), Sri Neyveli Santhanagopalan (29 Apr 2007), Sri T.V. Sankaranarayanan (26 May 2007), Sri Sanjay Subrahmanyan (24 Jun 2007), Sri P. Unnikrishnan (29 Jul 2007), Smt. S. Sowmya (26 Aug 2007), Sri N. Vijay Siva (23 Sep 2007), Priya Sisters (28 Oct 2007), Sri O.S. Thyagarajan (25 Nov 2007), Smt. Gayathri Girish (09 Dec 2007) and Smt. Sudha Raghunathan (27 Jan 2008). Sri Murali of Sri Krishna Sweets, who was present on the occasion, was praised by the dignitaries assembled on the podium. After hearing about his philanthropic efforts and his constant support for promoting cultural activities, I must say he is doing a really great job.

TNS also spoke briefly before the concert began. The topic he spoke on was “Tamizh Isai”. Here is what I understood. TNS said that “Tamizh Isai” did not just refer to singing songs in Tamil language. His interpretation was that Tamizh Isai is no different from Carnatic music itself and that they are one and the same. To support his interpretation, he quoted the examples of the Tamil work Silappadigaram (the oldest book that depicts the well developed system of music in India as early as 4B.C./2A.D. ) and the fact that ghamaka embellishments that form one of prime characteristics of carnatic music were first used by Tirugnanasambandar (which couldn’t be played on the yAzh by Yazhpanar) when he sang his hymns in Tamil. He further said that languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada etc were like the different silver cups in which you could serve carnatic music (coffee-served-in-silver-cup analogy) and that there was no discrimination against any of the languages nor a bias towards singing compositions in one or more particular language(s). He concluded by saying that music is a language by itself.

T.N.Seshagopalan @ Hamsadhwani, Chennai

Venue: Youth Hostel, 2nd Avenue, Indira Nagar, Adyar, Chennai

Date: 24 Feb 2007

Organizer: Hamsadhwani

Dikshitar Day Concert

Vocal: Sri T.N. Seshagopalan (TNS)

Vocal Support: Sri T.N.S. Krishna

Violin: Sri M. Chandrasekaran

Mrudangam: Sri Vellore Ramabhadran

List of songs:

1) srI mahAgaNapatiravatu – gowLai – misra chApu – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (OS)

2) shanka chakra – pUrNachandrikA – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (NS)

3) kamalAmbA – Anandabhairavi – misra chApu – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (A)

4) ardhanArIshwaram – kumudakriyA – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (A)

5) srI rAjagOpAla – sAvEri – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

6) sarasijanAbha sOdari – nAgagAndhAri – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (A)

7) trayambaka purAdhIsham (viruttam) – vasantA

hariharaputram – vasantA – kanDa Ekam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

8 ) saundara rAjam – brindAvana sArangA – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (A)

9) ambA nIlAyatAkshi – nIlAmbari – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

10) bAlagOpAla – bhairavi – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (ANST)

11) AnandAmrutakarshini – amritavarshini – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (O)

12) srI venkaTagirIsham – suruTTi – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

13) srI kamalAmbikE – srI – kanDa Ekam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

14) sarva mangaLa mAngalyE (slOkam) – srI

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

The time – 5.15 PM. The concert hall, if you could call it as one, is empty with just an old couple seated in one of the front rows. As I find a seat for myself, there is a suddenly a loud roar as though 20 Titanics have started their engines in unison. One glance to the left and one to the right confirms the source of the noise as pedestal fans planted at the end of some of the rows. As my ears start getting used to the noise, there is suddenly this strange but familiar noise of a different kind that is heard. Mosquitoes ….. those lil brats are here too and they are in large numbers. A battle then started that ended only with me running out of the battlefield after the concert got over. 5.30 PM … more mamas and mamis trickle in sporting their Hamsadhwani membership cards and start filling the rows in the front. The attention of the mosquitoes has now been diverted. They want fresh blood. A new kind of noise is heard now …. of loud gossip …. a mami is explaining how her son in LA found his mate on tamilmatrimony.com ……. another one is explaining her itinerary for the next two months …. she seems to be flying between countries much more than an air hostess of an international airline. Its 5.45PM. Official starting time for the concert. Sri M. Chandrasekaran is seated on one of the front rows. Someone has already taken a mrudangam to the stage. But there is no sign of TNS. There is a familiar odor emanating from somewhere …. Amrutanjan … looks like someone has discovered mosquito repelling properties in the balm and has applied a container full of Amrutanjan on himself/herself. 6.05PM …. I am about to doze off when a sudden calm descends. The mami in front of me proudly announces the arrival of TNS and his entourage to her husband. 6.15 PM … the curtains open. Sri Ramachandran (?), secretary, Hamsadhwani stands up on stage with a sheet of paper in his hand and proudly reads out what he has written about the day’s concert and about the artists. 2-3 lines of his are enough to send me scurrying to the nearby stationary store for a copy of the Oxford Mini Dictionary. Today is again one of those days when I wish he takes some ‘speech’ writing classes from my friend Vijay (for those of you who don’t know … Vijay is an extremely talented writer … one of the best in business ;) ). Anyways … after praising the 3 Sangita Kalanidhis on stage for what seems like ages, Mr. Ramachandran is finally done. TNS is all set to begin his concert …….

11:30PM … I am sitting at home with the brindAvana sArangA alapana of TNS still running through my mind. I am in this state of bliss, a state of contentment. A state of complete surrender to the music of TNS. If he were to appear in front of me, I would probably fall down at his feet and implore him to take me along with him so that I could just listen to him sing for days and months and years to come and remain in this state of bliss forever.

Coming back at the concert, TNS started with “srI mahAgaNapatiravatu” in gowLai. Whatever little problems he seemed to have with his voice in the beginning seemed to become immaterial once he started the beautiful set of kalpana swarams in gowLai. Sri M. Chandrasekaran’s little kOrvai in the last round of the kalpanA swaram with a pattern of 5s got TNS excited and he went on to improvise the same kOrvai with patterns of 5, 7 and 9. “shanka chakra” came next with wonderful rounds of neraval and swarams when I was least expecting them at “bhajE pUrNachandrikAnga guruguhAntakaraNam”. The last set of kalpanA swarams was so full of rAga bhAvam. A sudden power cut happened just when TNS was reaching peak form in the kumudakriyA Alapana. Power came back only during the charaNam of the next song “srI rAjagOpAla”. Though I was sad at first when the power cut happened, the experience of hearing TNS sing without a mic was an excellent one in itself. I seemed to notice and appreciate many subtle things which would have probably skipped my attention had the mic been there. Wish more chamber concerts happen thse days without the necessity for amplification equipment. The return of electric power saw TNS launch into a beautiful raga alapana of nAgagAndhAri. The song “sarasijanAbha sOdari” seemed to stare at one’s face all through the alapana. The vasanta viruttam that followed later had this portion where TNS held his breath and launched a set of amazing patterns highlighting the raga so beautifully.

The raga of the day for me was brindAvana sArangA. The moment he started it, I knew I was in for a great experience. The wonderful 16 minute experience of the raga that TNS took me through is something I cannot capture adequately in words. It transported me to a different world altogether. A majestic rendition of “saundararAjam” followed. TNS finished the song just when I was expecting a long round of kalpanA swarams. Bhairavi was the main raga for the day. The alapana was beautifully done. The kriti was so well sung. The neraval and kalpana swarams were also great. Taniavartanam had a misra naDai with a short chatusra naDai prelude followed by a tisra naDai. The post tani portion saw TNS take up another one of my favorite ragas suruTTi. There was no alapana this time. The kriti “srI venkaTagirIsham” was rendered very well. TNS wrapped up the concert with “srI kamalAmbikE” and a slOkam in the raga srI.

Eagerly looking forward to the next concert of TNS.

The Southie’s Dhoti

I received this a few days back from the Spam King of my ISB batch and can’t resist posting it. Whoever wrote this originally deserves the praise/pleasantries. So here goes “The Southie’s dhoti and how to rattle it” ……….

 

Other men gird their loins, Southie men gird their dhotis. Underestimated by the rest of the world as a mere garment, a foolish extension of the loincloth, it’s only the Southie male who knows that the dhoti can be much, much more. (Bringing to mind the opening line of Love Story. “What do you say about a one-and a half-metre tundu ….”)

 

Well to start with, the Southie’s dhoti is a piece of minimalist art. No clumsy acres of cloth to be feverishly gathered and pleated, no frenzied crawling between and around the legs. Just a pithy bit of pristine whiteness, enough to go around the waist once, with some left over for the two ends to overlap – barely. It’s also a free spirit, secured by just one firm tuck at the waist, the rest left to hang free, unrestrained. Because the Southie knows that a dhoti is not just something to wear but to wield, much the way a skunk does his stink or a bimbo her cleavage. And so as Time dawned on mankind (somewhere between Mohenjo and Daro), the art of dhoti rattling came to be, the art of how to swagger, strut, scare, conquer and tame – all with a piece of cotton as bland as your granny’s khichdi. Which is why, like Sharon Stone’s hemline, the Southie’s dhoti is built to have the unfettered freedom to rise or fall, fold over or flap across, even cleave open to lay bare the magnificence of Southie machismo.

Naturally, this means that the Southie dhoti spends very little time being full length – i.e modestly covering its wearer from waist to toe – and a lot of its time being folded up to reveal calves, knees, thighs (and sometimes – gasp! – even more) depending on how things are going. Now before you leap to any rash conclusions about the Southie male’s secret exhibitionist tendencies (“we’d have never guessed with all that vibhuti!”) let me tell you that without knowing how and when to fold or unfold your dhoti (while wearing it, naturally) there’s no way you can rattle it. (Nor diddle your mundu.) It’s a bit like trying to wrestle without a partner or to tango without feet. And depending on your dexterity and timing, you can deploy your dhoti to play popular male sports like mine-is-bigger-than-yours, my-daddy-can-beat-up-your-daddy-not-to-mention-what-he-can-do-to-your-mummy and you-can-take-it-and-stick-it-up-you-know-where.

Needless to say, the art of dhoti rattling has been stitched into the Southie’s Y chromosone and there was a time when every good Southie boy worth his weight in molaga podi learnt it much before he learnt how to manage rasam on a banana leaf. Alas, with the invasion of the pant and the pyjama, it’s now a dying art in the cities, but is still alive and well where paddy is lush, the coconut tender, the jackfruit ripens like prickly, pregnant hippos and the air is laced with the fragrance of black hair gently wallowing in coconut oil.

 

Now though it is said that there are as many ways of diddling a dhoti (or wiggling your veshti) as there are recipes to make your idli batter rise, here are the few basic moves common to all schools.

 

1. The Buffalo Bhoothalingam Draw (Inspired by the Bucking-Bronco Kick.)

Used to answer the Call of the Testosterone. And when the call comes, to the swelling of the chest and the quivering of the moustache, (maybe even the clash of a few cymbals), in one lightning motion, you shoot out a leg backwards to kick the lower end of the dhoti upwards into a waiting hand. And before anyone can say Karaikudi Kunjukunju Mudaliar, the dhoti will lie trussed up at loin level and you are all set to defend the honour of gramam, gotram or garage mechanic. Can be accompanied by dialogues like “Yenna da, rascal!” or words to that effect, but the more stylish practictioners prefer to let the dhoti do all the talking.
(If your dhoti is already folded up, just go in reverse making sure that when you unfold it, you don’t yank the whole damn thing off. It requires years of practice to know and find the location of that little bit of dhoti that will do the trick.)

 

2. The I’m-the-King-of-Kondalampatti Klutch. Equivalent to pissing on territory and therefore normally used to fix who is the dominant male in this part of the jungle. At the sight of a threat, shoot out leg (always backwards), kick dhoti (always upwards) and instead of folding the whole thing up around loins, just hold up one end (sometimes both if the threat is severe) in hand to part the dhoti like the waters of the Red Sea and make way for two hairy (hopefully), muscular (hopefully), mard-key-bacchey legs which will then proceed to walk all over everybody. In days of yore, this was much more effective when done striding through paddy fields with a minion scurrying behind holding aloft a huge black umbrella to protect your beautiful black complexion from being ruined by the sun.

 

3. The Gird-of-the-Loin. Used before the commencement of anything from climbing a coconut tree to signing that corporate merger. (Also very useful while riding anything with two wheels) It signals that you’re now open for and mean business. A variation the B. Bhootalingam Draw, minus all the thunder and lightning and how high you fold the dhoti is determined by the complexity and seriousness of the task at hand. (WARNING: To be deployed without underwear only when unaware of presence of polite/female company and/or when answering an urgent call of nature.)

 

Which leaves us with just a couple of unanswered questions. The first – if the Southie’s dhoti spends so much of its time aping a miniskirt, what comes to mind is a question has so often haunted humanity about the Scottish kilt. What underwear? Well let’s just say that it has never been Venky’s secret. Because the Southie, never knowing how high his dhoti may ride, chooses his under-the-dhoti-wear remembering the Girl Scout motto. “Be prepared”. Hence the popular choice – despite the invasion of the briefer VIP or the even more dashing Jockey – continues to be what is called “drayers” – knee-length kacchas in dashing stripes or shorts in basic khaki – covering all matters that must remain private no matter what your dhoti may do in public.

 

And the second question is…. You know what they say about the Southie’s dhoti – that it’s like a coconut. Known to fall off but no one has ever seen one do so. So the second question is – how does it stay up? There are many whispered rumours. (And there are those who have been known to use a belt, but they are charlatans really, shunned and denounced by the real Makappuwamis) Some say that it is coffee, strong enough to put the hair on your chest and keep your dhoti on. Some say a daily dose of rice and buttermilk, enough to just distend your stomach to the required rotundity. Others say it’s avvakai pickle, hot enough to sear your dhoti into your middle….The truth is no one knows. My bet? Testosterone…..

 

(FOOTNOTE: Now there may be some of you whose brow may be furrowed on account of my not having mentioned the lungi. I have just one word for it. Disgusting. A raucous, loutish, revolting genetic aberration that will never be recognized as a legitimate relation by any true aficionado of the Southie’s dhoti.)

Trip to Tirupati/Kalahasti

Went on a 2 day trip to Kalahasti, Tirupati & Tiruchanur with all the kith and kin that could make it. We started from Chennai at about 11 AM in the morning on Sunday and took the Chennai – Poonamallee – Tiruvallur – Tiruttani – Puttur – Renigunta route. From Renigunta, the road to the right leads to Kalahasti while the road to the left leads to Tirupati, Tirumala, Tiruchanur etc.

We first went to Kalahasti and reached there at about 3PM. The festival to mark Shiva Ratri was in full swing and there was a sizeable crowd inside the temple. We had a good darshan. Details on the temple, the legends and other things that you might want to know are available here and here.

From Kalahasti, we headed straight for Tirumala (details of temples/places to visit available here ). From Tirupati, which is located at the foot of the hills, you can either walk all the way up to the temple complex at Tirumala or go by road. I had walked all the way up to the top the last time I had come to Tirumala which was just before I joined ISB. Though my uncle and I were planning to do the same this time also, some confusion regarding the booking of our accomodation at Tirumala ensured that we hit the road and scurried to the top to sort out things. The weather at Tirupati was an extremely pleasant one but it started raining cats and dogs just when we started driving uphill. The guy who drove the cab in which I was sitting was this F1 fan who somehow couldn’t stand the sight of any vehicle in front of him. Believe me, this guy would give your favorite F1 driver a run for his money any day. There were so many instances where I felt I was just seconds away from becoming one with God. There were so many sharp turns where our guy, despite the pouring rain and poor visibility, chose to overtake vehicles much larger than his own. I have never before met a guy with so much guts as to try overtaking buses and trucks right at hairpin bends. All this only reinforced my belief that there is so much of talent in the country lying wasted.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you when I say that I, along with 4 others in my cab, managed to reach the top much ahead of the others in the entourage. We had the Rs. 200 Archana Anantara Darshan (AAD) tickets and we were supposed to assemble at this place called Vaikuntam Queue Complex at 3.30AM … yes you read that correctly …. 3.30 AM in the morning. I do not know why my relatives have complete faith in me while giving me the responsibility to wake them up …. and so while they hit the beds and slept soundly for the few hours that remained between then and darshan time, I was kept fully awake with snores of different pitches and amplitudes coming from all directions. Well … I managed to wake them all up at 2AM and instead of singing praises of how I managed to complete such an arduous task, they sang praises of how they managed to wake up despite having slept for just those few hours. At times, I feel there is no difference between one’s boss at work and one’s kin. If you are thinking why one needs an hour and a half to get ready and assemble at a place that is a stone’s throw away, let me remind you that we had ladies in our group too.

We finally managed to locate the end of what seemed to be a never ending line outside the Queue Complex and assembled there. There are two species of people you almost always seem to find everywhere – parking ticket-waalas and chai-waalas. While a representative of the former kind was probably busy in an adjacent parking lot, there was a chaiwaala right next to the place where we had assembled to give us the much needed eye opener caffeine shot. The serpentine queue started moving at about 3.50 PM and it took a while before we actually entered the queue complex itself. Once we entered the temple compound, we just seemed to be slowly walking again and again in concentric circles that led to the sanctum.

There were multiple queues separated by barricades. The gentlemen in the group were busy planning the rest of the day and the trip back. The kids in the group were jumping up and down and running around in whatever little space they could find between people. The ladies were busy checking the denominations of tickets that people in the adjacent queues had bought. If one of the adjacent queues moved faster, there would be loud gasps and arguments as to which ticket was the best one to be bought and what a terrible mistake the gentlemen in the group had committed. A lot of people were singing bhajans and we pitched in whenever we could hear a familiar song/tune. The kids were very enthusiastic even at this time of the day and they too sang their hearts out. The youngest of my cousins, in her enthusiasm, even sang “Hallelujah, Hallelujah” when the rest of us sang “Govinda, Govinda”. Must have been the effect of the “Christmas Tree” that she saw just outside the queue complex or the realization that God is one.

After what seemed like ages, we finally managed to get a good darshan and come out of the temple complex in one-piece. A tougher, yet to be accomplished task, was getting the famous Tirupati laddus. Believe me or see it for yourself when you go there next – the joy in the faces of people who manage to get the laddus completely overshadows the joy you see in their faces after they manage to get the darshan. After getting the laddus, we visited the Sri Varahaswamy temple nearby and returned back to our rooms after a quick breakfast.

I have been harboring this wish of hearing Smt. M.S. Subhalakshmi’s rendition of Sri Venkatesha Suprabhatam at the Tirumala temple itself. Though I couldn’t get this wish of mine satisfied, I managed to hear her “Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam” in the temple complex and it was a great experience for me.

We started the return journey at about 10.30 AM in the morning with our cab driver still in peak form on the way down. In what seemed like a passage strewn with some of the sharpest hairpin bends, he almost managed to send 4 buses, a ‘tempo’ and countless number of cars tumbling down the hill. His victims would have accumulated a lot of sins on account of the pleasantries they mouthed.

On the way back, we first went to Sri Padmavati Ammavari Temple in Tiruchanur located quite close to Tirupati. We then retraced our way back and went for the first time to a place called Srinivasamangapuram. There is a lovely temple of Sri Kalyana Venkatesa Perumal here. The crowd here is much lesser than that at Tirupati, or at Tiruchanur for that matter, but this is certainly one temple that you must include in your itenerary if you are planning a trip to Tirupati. The beauty of the lord of this temple, as manifested in the idol there, is something that is very difficult to put in words. I also managed to get one of the best “sakkarai pongals” I have had in the recent past, as prasadam here.

We had initially planned a visit to Sri Govindarajaswami Temple in Tirupati and a few other temples like the ones in Tiruttani and Tiruvallur but couldn’t make it to these places as it was getting late. If you plan well, you can see all these temples in two days. A good order that you could follow is the following: Kalahasti -> Tiruchanur -> Srinivasamangapuram temple -> Tirumala and Sri Govindarahaswami and the other temples on the way back.

Here are a few snaps shot from my cell phone camera (please click on the thumbnails to view the larger versions):

Kalahasti

Gopuram over the main gate (located some distance away from the main temple)

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Temple chariot:

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The river Swarnamukhi … actually not sure if this is the river as it is in a very bad state. Going by the fact that the temple is supposed to be located close to the river and that this was the only (prominent) water body around, I guessed this must be the river.

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Tirumala/Tirupati

View of the city from the hills (taken while on the way down):

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Statue of Smt. M.S. Subhalakshmi at a place near the entrance to Tirupati:

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The Kalyana Venkatesa Perumal Temple (Srinivasamangapuram):

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Tribute to SVK

I was shocked to hear about the passing away of music promoter Sri S.V. Krishnan (SVK) today. He appeared hale and hearty just day before yesterday at a concert by Vid. Amritha Murali. Though I neither knew him personally nor have ever spoken to him, I will always remember him for having constructed Raga Sudha Hall, probably the best auditorium/hall in Chennai to hear concerts in. He was famous for his speeches after the main song in concerts organized by him under the banner of “Naada Inbam” at Raga Sudha Hall. His speeches almost always used to start with the word ‘sabhayOrgaLE’. He also used to walk around the hall when a concert was in progress to check if the sound levels are fine everywhere. May his soul rest in peace.

(Side) Effects of the Chennai English

You listen to Chennai-waasis (especially the youth of Chennai) speak English and you will invariably find at least one of the following three, if not all, in what is spoken:

  • Sentence starts with the word “Man”
  • Sentence ends with the word “no” or “right” (In fact “right” is common to people from other parts of the country too)
  • Use of “I can’t able to”

Now that I am a Chennai-waasi myself, the words “Man” and “no” have started finding their place regularly in what I speak.

Here is what happened yesterday in the coffee shop at my office. One of my colleagues went and gave the following order: “1 Tea. No sugar. 1 Coffee”. Here is what the guy at the counter understood: “1 Tea No . Sugar. 1 Coffee”. It wouldn’t be a surprise to know that my colleague got tea with sugar in it while what he wanted was tea without sugar. The word “no” was just redundant.

Lesson learnt: If one wants to use the word “no”, he/she must treat it like an “escape character”. An ideal way to place the order would probably have been the following: “Man. 1 Tea no. No Sugar no. 1 Coffee no. You got it right no“.

Amritha Murali @ Naada Inbam, Chennai

Venue: Raga Sudha Hall, 85/2, Luz Avenue, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 13th Feb 2007

Organizer: Naada Inbam

Vocal: Vid. Amritha Murali

Violin: Vid. R. Hemalatha

Mrudangam: Vid. B. Ganapatiraman

List of songs (partial):

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* nAradamuni vEDalina – pantuvarALi – Adi (tisra gati) – thyAgarAja (A)

* nIvErA kula – bEgaDa – misra chApu – thyAgarAja (AS)

* vINAbhEri – AbhEri – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

* venkaTashaila – hamIrkalyANi – Adi – subbarAya sAstri (O)

* bhajanasEyu mArgamunu – nArAyaNi – Adi – thyAgarAja

* srI rAjagOpAla – sAvEri – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (ANST)

* chandrchUDa – darbAri kAnaDA – Adi – purandaradAsa

* nADi thEDi (tiruppugazh) – bAgEswari – ** (see below) – aruNagirinAthar

* nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

** each avartanam of talam for tiruppugazh was put as two tisra chApus followed by tisra ekam

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Vid. Amritha Murali once again gave a very enjoyable concert. I reached the concert venue late when Vid. Hemalatha was playing a good pantuvarALi alapana. The bEgaDa alapana by the singer was really good and so were the brief hamIrkalyANi outline and the detailed sAvEri alapana. Vid. Hemalatha’s alapanas of these ragas were also very enjoyable and neatly presented. Both “venkaTashaila” and “srI rAjagOpAla” were sung with a lot of involvement. Neraval was done in “srI rAjagOpAla” at “smErAnana sEvaka chaturAnana nArAyaNa tAraka divyanAma”. The ending kOrvai in the kalpanA swaram was a slightly improvised version of the kOrvai that is usually put for this song (the one that begins with ‘sa rI ga sa rI’) . The uttarAngam part was the one different from that of the usual kOrvai.

Sri Ganapatiraman was his usual self playing very beautifully for all songs almost as if singing along on his mrudangam. He played a taniavartanam in Adi tALam that comprised the chatusra and tisra naDais.

Awesome TNS Harikatha on Sadguru Saint Thyagaraja, Chennai

There are very few people who can don multiple hats and yet manage to enviably excel in each of the roles they play. One such great person is Sri T.N. Seshagopalan (TNS) – vocalist, vainika, keyboard/harmonium artist, teacher, harikatha exponent, composer …. you could just go on and on. The rasikas assembled at Amarabharati, West Tank St., Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai yesterday got to witness the “Harikatha Exponent” in the multi-faceted TNS. A very impressive performance it was that left me with this feeling of having witnessed something great, of having learnt a lot and of wanting to learn a lot more about this boundless ocean that Carnatic Music is.

Scheduled to start at 6.30 PM, the performance began at about 7 PM when a garlanded TNS, dressed in veshti and angavastram, got ready along with his ensemble comprising Sri Nagai Sriram on the violin, Sri Kalakkad Srinivasan on the mrudangam and Sri B.L. Kodandaraman on the harmonium. TNS began with Sri Vedanta Desikan’s “gnAnAnanda mayam dEvam” and went on to give an awesome performance for over 2.5 hours in which multiple facets of his seemed to step in just when required to hold the rasikas spellbound. He seemed so fluent in the languages he used – Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit and English. Every time he sang a line or two from Sri Thyagaraja’s compositions, the way he brought the raga out made me almost go into a trance. The effect seemed to linger on even when he spoke thus giving the effect of a satisfying 2-3 hour carnatic concert. Popular vocalist Sri T.V. Sankaranarayanan was there among the rasikas along with his wife from the beginning of the performance. He stayed till the very end and spoke very highly of Sri Seshagopalan’s vidwat, mastery over multiple things and above all of this, the fact that he still puts in the same amount of hard work which he did when he stepped in the field long long ago.

Here are some notes I managed to take which form only a very small part of what he told (including some of the humorous aspects). My limited knowledge and limitations in my ability to understand what TNS said might have introduced errors. Corrections, if any, are welcome:

  • The harikatha was about Sri Thyagaraja being a “Sadguru”. I think either the organizer or TNS said that harikatha performance on Sri Thyagaraja can be done for days and days together without still covering everything that could be told and harikatha on “Sri Thyagaraja as a Sadguru” could itself be done for days together. TNS told that he is in a quandry as to what to include in the limited time given to him and what to leave out
  • “While doing bhakti through kirtanam, the bhakti through sravanam and that through smaranam both get combined and get reflected. A person doing kirtanam well is able to make the people hearing comprehend the ‘deivIga sAnnidhyam’. So it is beneficial to both people who tell kIrtanam as well as to people listening it. If a kIrtanam is done well it is ‘sankIrtanam’, else it is ‘pOkkiritanam’ ” :-)
  • “Audience involvement in kIrtanams/concerts is required but sometimes (over) participation tends to lead to difficulties. For example, in one of the concerts, I was singing one sangati while the violinist was playing a different one. Upon scrutiny, I found that he is playing for what one of the elderly guys sitting in the first row was singing” :-)
  • “The significance of the RAma avatAram of the Lord is that it is in this avatAram that he stressed the importance of values in life. He came and lived along with the people as a good son, as a good brother, as a good friend and so on. He exhibited ‘karuNai‘ where and when required in this avatAram”. He went on to describe a lot more things about RAma avarAram
  • “RAma avatAram came before Krishna avatAram because it seems as though the Lord wanted to live and show what he preached before he actually preached”
  • “Sri Hanuman was seated at a height above Sri Krishna himself when Sri Krishna give the gItopadEsam. This seems to signify that understanding the gItA is more difficult than telling it”. He cited the kriti ‘gItArtamu’ in raga suruTTi whose charaNam refers to Sri Hanuman. He told that nishAdam is the jIva swaram of suruTTi and that Sri Thyagaraja has aptly placed Sri Hanuman (vAtAtmaja) at the nishAdam
  • “Sri Thyagaraja has included the entire rAmAyaNa in a small uruppaDi ‘srI raghukulamandu buTTi sItanu cheyi konina rAmachandra’ “
  • On the significance of the name ‘rAma’, he cited the kriti ‘evarani’ in dEvAmrutavarshini and said that in the Shiva panchakshara mantra, when the letter ‘ma’ is removed from ‘nama shivAya’ of Om nama shivAya, it would become ‘nashivAya’. Similarly, if from ‘nArAyanAya’ of ‘Om namO nArAyanAya’, the letter ‘ra’ is removed then it would become’ nAyanAya’. A combination of these two important letters formed the word rAmA
  • “There are many people these days who claim to be gurus and even sadgurus …….. A person who teaches how to do something is a guru ….. Sadguru is one by observing and following whom we even learn what he has left unsaid. We are able to visualize what he has visualized. He lives and stays as an example of how to lead a life …… Sri Thyagaraja is a sadguru …. one should not ask people to call him as a sadguru, people should by themselves call a sadguru as one”. Citing ‘shrI gaNapatini sEvimpa rArE’ and ‘rAju veDale jUtAmurArE” compositions, he said Sri Tyagaraja was not just satisifed by seeing the lord all by himself but requested everyone to come and see the lord in his full splendor.
  • He recited a slokam “vyAsO naigama charchayA mrudugira valmIka janmAmunihi, vairAgyE shukayEvacha bhakti vishayE prahlAdayEva swayam, brahmA nArada apratimayO sangIta sAhityayO, yO rAmamrutapANa nirjita shivaha tam tyAgarAjam bhajE” and said Sri Thyagaraja has been said to be like Sri Vyasa in vEdAs (?), like Sri Valmiki in poetry, like Sri Shuka in vairAgyam, like Sri Prahlada in bhakti, like Sri Brahma and Sri Narada in sangIta sAhityam and that he is said to have even won Parameshwaran in rAma bhakti. He cited one of the charaNams of ‘kana kana ruchirA’ beginning with ‘kAminchi prEmamIra karamula’ in support of this.
  • He said that just like each of the avatArams of the lord is for saving the world from adharma and for letting dharma prevail, we can think of the Trimurtis of Carnatic Music as having been avatArams for saving music. He said he viewed Sri Thyagaraja as Lord Rama, Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar as Lord Subramanya and Sri Syama Sastri as Goddess Kamakshi.
  • He told that just like medicine is given to children with honey, Sri Thyagaraja’s rAmAyaNam or rAmAnubhavam is special and different from other rAmAyaNams in that sangItam is used as a honey. He said one who is more inclined towards literature can read/hear/know/experience rAmA through the literary beauty while one who is not can let the sangItam (music) take over and experience rAmA through it. The way he described the bliss experienced by a rasika after hearing Thyagaraja’s compositions sung/played by a good musician was so good. It cannot be put into words.
  • I am not sure if TNS saw someone sleeping in the audience. He remarked jovially that when a patient went to see his doctor and complained of sleeplessness because of the different medicines that had been prescribed for him and asked the doctor to do something to get him to sleep, the doctor told him to go to Tiruvanmiyur and attend the TNS harikatha to get instant sleep ;-)
  • He said Sri Thyagaraja also gave many rAgAs their swarUpam. He cited the example of the kriti ‘paluka kaNDa’ and the usage of double panchamam in the ArOhaNa of navarasakannaDA.
  • He said that before Sri Thyagaraja’s time, only a few people could listen to good classical music and those who practised it were also highly regarded and considered themselves very special. He said Sri Thyagaraja made such a sangItam accessible to everyone for bhakti and encouraged everyone to sing and take the Lord’s name.

Here are some snaps (click on the thumbnails to enlarge) :

 

TNS presenting the harikatha:

 

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TVS praises TNS:

 

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The Return of Michael Dell

Just a few days back I had written a post regarding an article on “Where Dell went wrong”. Founder Michael Dell has returned back, taken over the reins of the company and jumped into action rightaway. Wharton Professor Peter Cappelli speaks on Dell’s return here. Apparently the first thing that Dell has started doing is sell rival Sony’s flat panel televisions on its website.

Jayan: I don’t think this is good news for you …. the last line might give you some new lines of business to think about though  ;-)

T.M.Krishna @ Asthika Samajam, Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai

Venue: Amarabarati, 12, West Tank St., Near Marudeeswarar Temple, Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai

Date: 07 Feb 2007

Organizer: Asthika Samajam, Tiruvanmiyur

Vocal: Sri T.M. Krishna (TMK)

Violin: Sri T.K.V. Ramanujacharyulu

Mrudangam: Sri Karaikudi R. Mani

Ghatam: Sri V. Suresh

List of songs:

1) sarasUDa (varnam) – sAvEri – Adi – kothavAsal venkaTrAma iyer

2) rAmA nI pai – kEdAram – Adi – thyAgarAja (OS)

3) ninnE nera – pantuvarALi – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (ANS)

4) chEtasrI – dwijAvanti – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

5) upachAramulanu – bhairavi – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

6) varuvArO – sAmA – Adi – gOpAlakrishna bhArati

7) tOm tOm tadara (tillAnA) – pUrnachandrikA – Adi – rAmanAtapuram srInivAsa iyengAr

8 ) kAdi mOdi (tiruppugazh) – shankarAbharaNam – ** (see below) – aruNagirinAthar

9) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

** each avartanam of talam for song 9 was put as two tisra chApus followed by a kanDa chApu followed by a kanDa ekam

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

I think these days one can just go by the following saying: “Its a T.M. Krishna concert. It has to be good”. I think one of the best aspects of TMK concerts is the kind of top class accompanying artists he gets to perform along with him which makes the concert experience complete from all angles. One gets the best of vocal, violin, mrudangam and at least one upa-pakkavadyam in almost all of his concerts. Today’s team of artists on stage just validated this once more.

Everything in today’s concert was good. The pantuvarALi alapana was beautifully sung. The bhairavi alapana was also good. I could just go on and on. Sri Ramanujacharyulu on the violin responded very well and also accompanied well.

Sri Karaikudi Mani is one of the few mrudangam artists who seems to have a sizeable fan following wherever he plays. The combination of Sri Mani and Sri Suresh is a celebrated one in rasika circles and its always a delight to hear both of them play together in a concert. Sri Karaikudi Mani started the relatively short taniavartanam with the misra naDai with a very short prelude in the chatusra naDai. He played many different interesting patterns with a count of 7 per beat of the tALam in the misra naDai. He played a 112 count (16 beats) kOrvai to end the naDai. After Sri Suresh finished his turn with the misra naDai, they both played a very good kuraippu in tisra naDai with some very interesting patterns. They returned back to the chatusra naDai and then played the usual Adi tALa mOrA with a small common variation and ended the taniAvartanam with a good 2 avartanam kOrvai in tisra naDai to some thunderous applause from the audience.

T.Lokanadha Sarma @ Nadopasana, Chennai

Venue: Dakshinamurthy Auditorium, P.S. High School, R.K. Mutt Road, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 04 Feb 2007

Organizer: Nadopasana

Vocal: Sri T. Lokanadha Sarma

Violin: Sri V. Sanjeev

Mrudangam: Sri Parupalli Phalgun

Khanjira: Sri Venkataramanan

List of songs:

1) vighna nivAraNa vinAyakA – nATTai – Adi – ?? (A)

2) raghunAyakA – hamsadwani – Adi – thyAgarAja (S)

3) viruttam (couldn’t get the words properly) – sAvEri

    eTu namminavO – sAvEri – Adi – paTTaNam subramaNya iyer (ANS)

4) sarasa sAma dAna – kApinArAyaNi – Adi – thyAgarAja

5) sundari nI – kalyANi – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

6) visvEshwar – sindhu bhairavi – rUpakam – swAti tiruNAL (A)

7) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

    sriya kAntAya (mangaLa slOkam) – madyamAvati

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

This is the first time I am hearing Sri Lokanadha Sarma sing. He presented a very simple concert devoid of frills. Sri Phalgun on the mrudangam was very impressive. He played very well for songs. I first heard him play for Sri Shashank (Flute) a few months back and from then on I have been wanting to hear more of him. His style of playing and fingering looks very similar to that of Sri Patri Satish Kumar, one of my favorite mrudangists in the concert circuit today. He uses the middle finger as an anchor while playing, in place of the ring finger which most other mrudangam artists use.

Float Festival @ Mylapore

The Thai Poosam Theppam Thiruvizha, which I have crudely translated in English as “Float Festival” in the title of this post, was celebrated at the Karpagambal Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore. The atmosphere in and around the temple was electric and there was excitemement all around Mylapore Tank.

I happened to pass by the temple tank yesterday night when the float was being taken around. It was a great sight to watch the float move around in the temple tank in full glory with nadaswaram vidwans seated in it playing some great music. Here are some snaps I took from my mobile phone camera (click on the thumbnails to get the enlarged versions); apologies for the poor quality – combination of night time, poorly lit surroundings, a mobile phone camera and the need to take shots from a distance is certainly not a photographer’s delight:

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Saketaraman @ Laya Lavanya Fine Arts Foundation, Chennai

Venue: Sastri Hall, Luz, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 03 Feb 2007

Organizer: Laya Lavanya Fine Arts Foundation

Vocal: Sri Saketaraman

Violin: Kum. Akkarai Subhalakshmi

Mridangam: Sri Ammangudi S. Ramanarayanan

Ghatam: Sri T.V. Vasan

List of songs:

1) sAmi ninnE (varnam) – srI – Adi – karur dEvuDu iyer (O)

2) vAtApi gaNapatim – hamsadwani – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (OS)

3) chUtAmurArE – Arabhi – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (ONS)

4) manasulOni – hindOLam – Adi – thyAgarAja (AS)

5) paridAnamichitE – bilahari – kanDa chApu – paTTaNam subramaNya iyer (O)

6) koluvai yunnADE – bhairavi – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

7) Om namO nArAyaNA – karnaranjani – kanDa chApu – ambujam krishnA (O)

8 ) ayyE methakaDinam – rAgamAlikA – Adi – gOpAlakrishna bhArati

9) dhIm ta dhIm ta dhIm ta dhiranA (tillAnA) – brindAvani – Adi – lAlguDi g. jayarAman (O)

10) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

The thing I like in Sri Saketaraman’s concerts I have attended so far is his choice of ragas like hamsadwani, Arabhi, hindOLam etc for the songs that come before the main song which I think makes his music reach out to almost everyone in the audience. The powerful voice that emerges from his frail frame coupled with his hard work makes the entire concert enjoyable.

Coming to today’s concert, the things I liked the most in the vocal part were Sri Saketaraman’s alapana of hindOLam and a short outline of brindAvani before the tillAna. Neraval was done at “Agama sancaruDaTa Akhila jagatpAluDaTa” for the Arabhi kriti and at “manasu ranjilla surasatulu” for the bhairavi kriti.

To me, the star of the evening however was Kum. Akkarai Subhalakshmi on the violin. Almost everything she touched seemed to turn into gold. The alapanas of hindoLam and bhairavi were so good. I like her steady, unhurried approach to alapanas very much. She allows pauses in her alapanas that seem to linger for just the appropriate amount of time to allow the audience to absorb her wizardry and to create the desired effect.

Sri Ammangudi Ramanarayanan and Sri T.V. Vasan played a good taniavartanam in Adi tALam that comprised the chatusra, tisra and kanDa naDais and a misra kuraippu.