Chennai News 17 December

 Seventy: I am looking forward to my birthday on Monday 20th December. The good book refers to the average age of a man to be 3 score and 10. Happy to make the average and then hope to surpass it. 

Tourism: Really sad that a friend of mine from Illovo who had planned to come to India for a pilgrimage culminating with a 10 day stay in Palani for the Thaipoosam kavady had to postpone his trip till next year. This is the result of the Omicron variant and the restriction of travel and visas from SA. Hopefully we will see the end of this soon. So far, we have had one confirmed case in Tamilnadu of a person with this variant who had arrived from Nigeria. His family who travelled with him had been isolated and are under observation. I just think that the whole issue has been blown out of proportion starting with the UK and SA has been penalised for its vigilance. 

Palani: This holy town 170 kms from Trichy is home to the Palani temple which is one of the six abodes of Lord Murugan. It is famous for the annual Thaipoosam kavady when close to half a million devotees attend during this ten-day festival. I had two men from SA who visited a few days ago. They had arrived just before the travel restrictions. The temple is famous for its winch and rope car that takes you to the top however those who are able can walk up the 670 steps to the top where you can have a beautiful view of the entire town and the farmlands around it. Palani has a few good three-star hotels and some very neat lodges for those who want to spend the night. The view from the bottom of the brightly lit temple on the top is specular. 

Kurup: This is the pick for this week’s movies. It can be seen in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi each with English subtitles and is being telecasted on Netflix. The movie stars Dulquer Salmaan who plays the characters of Gopi Krishna, Sudharkara Kurup, and Alexander at different stages of his life. The movie which is a based on a true character is a cat and mouse chase between Kurup and Krishnadas a Superintendant of Police who is hot on his trail. The story is told twice. Once in a straightforward lineal style. The second time the story is told filling in the blanks making it more complete. This movie is really well done and highly recommended for your viewing. 

Kannathil Muthamuthal: This movie is almost 20 years old but still remains as charming as when it was first released. The story revolves around a nine-year-old girl Amudha who is told by her parents that she is adopted. Her desire to see her natural parents takes them to Srilanka during the war years. It was so good to see a young Madhavan, Simran, Nanditha Dass and a young charming Prakashraj in a role where he is not a villain. Little Keerthana steals the show and also brings tears to your eyes in certain scenes. The movie is directed Mani Rathnam and the music by AR Rahman is still so beautiful to hear. The movie can be seen on Netflix. I remember this to be a big hit in SA when it was first released. 

Dear Comrade: This is a Telugu movie showing on Amazom Prime. It is the second film starring Vijay Devarakonda and Rashmi Mandanna after Geetha Govidam but is very different from the first. Bobby, a student union leader with anger issues, falls in love with Lily, a state-level cricketer. However, his temperament poses an obstacle in his path to being united with Lily. Besides being a love story the movie touches on many social issues like anger management, mental health and sexual harassment. At almost 3 hours it was a bit too long but nevertheless a good watch. 

Condolences. We are really sad to hear of the sudden passing away of well-known author Mahilingam Govender (Morgan) at his home in Mountview in Verulam on Saturday. He was laid to rest with a private funeral on Sunday. I got to know him and his wife many years ago at a chance meeting and we have been friends ever since. He treated me as his younger brother and introduced me to the literary world in Durban taking me to many meetings and also meeting other authors. A kindhearted and wonderful person who took me around Durban and other towns in KZN on his travels. His wife Vino always backed him up by being the perfect hostess and there was no way you could leave their house without her making sure that you ate a meal. Besides being an author and poet Mahalingam was an excellent musician with a powerful voice and expertise on most instruments his forte being the piano accordion. His Sai songs with his band which included his two African singers with their beautiful harmonizing was a joy to hear. My next trip to Durban is going to be a sad one as I have lost so many friends and relatives during the last two years. 

In all they have written seven books. If you would like to know more about the books you can contact Vino at 

Margazhi Music Festival: The Margazhi month (Dec 16th to Jan 13th) strangely does not have any weddings among Tamils here however it is the month of music and dance. Most of the sabhas have commenced their annual music festivals and it will be raining with swaras and jathis in their halls. Some of the sabhas have opted for limited seating and live screening on the internet. Some sabhas will be recording their concerts and releasing it online later. I have given you some links in the previous weeks. You can watch a recorded concert of Shruthi S Bhatt on Parivadini’s YouTube channel. On Sunday 19th you can watch a music ensemble featuring “Triveni” on 

Margazhiyil Makkalisai: This is an alternate festival of arts that redefines the cultural scene here by showcasing forms like oppari, gana, hip-hop, rap and thenmangu with singer Arivu and the Casteless Collective band as one of the driving forces with film director Pa Ranjith. The festival hopes to revive the identity of the ancient Tamils and their artforms which have been ignored and artistes marginalised by the brahmin dominated music sabhas. This festival will taking place from December 24th to 31st in Madurai, Coimbatore and Chennai. 

Dance Festival: After the completion of their music festival the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan will conduct “Naatya Utsav 2021” from Dec 16th to 26th. You can watch it online at 

India recorded 7,447 new cases and 391 deaths yesterday and a total of about 86,415 active cases. The figures in Tamilnadu (80 million people) was at 627 new cases with 686 recoveries and 12 deaths. There are still 7,476 active cases and 36,656 total deaths. The numbers seemed to have stabilized with a small decrease 

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