‘Chasing My Mamet Duck’ came through as a play that appealed on so many levels and yet left much of the audience wondering what the point was. With representations on various levels, the play, if you could call it that, seemed to question various points of life and its meaning with no evident connection. Interesting clips from children on the meaning of life and clips on what the human race could be understood as 200 years from now. The contrast between life as we know it and what life seems like to someone untainted with the cynicism of everyday existence was interesting. The play involved contemporary devices that are natural in everyday life, from online chats to You Tube videos that speak of absolutely nothing. The play tried to involve the audience with live auctions and requests to text a certain number. Theatre unlike anything I’ve seen, ‘Chasing the Mamet Duck’ certainly was an interesting indulgence.
Come summer and apart from the sweltering heat, the longer days and vacations, it’s also a time for the rich and varied hues of summer fruits to line the roads and supermarkets. “I love mangoes and watermelons. They’re two of my favourite summer fruits and the first indication that summer is here,” says Tanya Joseph.
The smile of satisfaction that arrives when hundreds of watermelons begin to line the streets lasts all the way until mango season is over in June. Both fruits make excellent snacks and lend themselves to a variety of recipes, all of which are excellent ways of keeping cool.
With all the news about artificially ripened mangoes hitting the market, has the sale of mangoes reduced? “Yes,” says a wholesale dealer, “People are purchasing the mango, but the demand has reduced and sales have come down. There are various varieties of mango in the market and the price could be anywhere from Rs.20 to Rs.60 per kg. based on variety and quality.”
As for watermelons, they seem to be an eternal favourite, “It is nearly the end of the watermelon season. The price of the fruit was lowest mid season the current retail price of watermelon is between Rs.8 and Rs.10 per kg.”
With so many varieties of mango and watermelon available in the market, customers are rather spoilt for choice. While buying both the fruits, it is important to ensure that they are of good quality and naturally grown. A good watermelon should be firm, have crisp, juicy flesh and not be dry or stringy. The rind should be firm, hard and spot free. It’s usually deep green and dull. Choose one that’s symmetrical and that is on the heavy side, for after all, 90% of it full of juice. An average watermelon weighs two to three kilos.
With mangoes, once you’ve ensured they are organically grown, you can begin your purchase. Just remember a ripe mango will be slightly soft to the touch and if you don’t plan to eat it right away, a firmer mango is the better choice. Also, trust your nose. Smell is a great indicator of ripeness. Both fruits are most refreshing served cold.
With Facebook groups dedicated to mangoes and watermelons having millions of ‘likes’ each, it certainly looks like the love of summer fruits is here to stay.
Artificially ripened fruit and how to spot them
With officials seizing fruits that have been artificially ripened, and increased awareness of the dangers that such fruit pose to your health, it makes sense to know how to spot fruits that are not naturally ripened.
One of the simplest ways to spot artificially ripened fruit is by colour. Naturally ripened fruits will not uniformly have a single colour, they will be of mixed hues. Also, most artificially ripened fruits have smooth, polished skin. Other hints are if the fruits are available in the market before their actual season. Particularly with mangoes, they should be consumed during season, which is May. The only way of being certain, of course, is by sending it to a lab for testing, but a watchful eye and a cautious purchase never hurts.
One of the big problems with time is how it seems to work. It can’t seem to decide what speed to flow at! Every single student waits all year long for the minutes to inch past, counting down to summer vacation; and two weeks into it they’re bored out of their minds. Not to mention frustrated parents who can’t wait for school/college to begin again. So what do you do with all that summer time? And how much will it cost you? To all those people who complain that Chennai doesn’t have enough to do, you’re wrong.
No need to take off to New Zealand or other exotic locales any more, Chennai has all of it and more. From zorbing to obstacle courses to paintball, consider adventure sports. Movies and malls aren’t your only options any more. Most places offering these activities are along the ECR and OMR, but there are a couple within the city proper, too. Zorbing can be done at Wired in Nungambakkam and you can indulge in paintball at Adventure Zone in Thiruvanmiyur.
How much: Varies from place to place, starting rates are around Rs.250.
For all those who have a fondness for history, summer is the time to learn about your city. The fact is that most of us take Chennai for granted, so open up those guide books and you’ll realise how much the city has to offer in terms of its past, and how little of it you’ve actually seen. And it won’t burn a hole in your pocket either. PS: The Egmore Museum is a great place to start.
How much: Price of tickets to historical sites and monuments varies based on the funding they receive: usually Rs.5-30. If you’re going with friends from outside the country be prepared for them to have to pay more.
We’ve all heard that the city is soaking in culture and heritage, and summer is when you get to discover why, where, what and how. Drive to Dakshinachitra and take a look at the tradition, art, architecture and folk culture of this country. Getting there is relatively easy – and spending the day there, even more so. A basic tour takes about an hour and a half but there are various workshops and demonstrations you can schedule or sign up for, too.
How much: Prices begin at Rs.30 for students.
Visit Birla Planetarium housed within Tamil Nadu Science & Technology Centre. The best-equipped planetarium in the country, they have shows in both English and Tamil. Believe me, you’ll never see stars the same way again. For the more scientifically inclined, there are various other galleries on premises.
How much: Tickets are priced at Rs.10 for children and Rs.20 for adults for the planetarium alone. There are also combo packages for those who want to see more than just the Planetarium.
Hone your skills
Summer is a great time to brush up on skills you’ve let go of or, better still, acquire new ones. Dance, theatre or even kickboxing, most training facilities have summer packages that last just about a month or two. Many professional schools and groups offer workshops for basics in certain disciplines, too.
How much: Classes/workshops begin at Rs.500, depending on the skill set and institute you choose.
Consider a summer internship in the field you love. Even if you don’t find your passion you’ll discover what you really do not want to do. Promotional offers always need people to sell their product. Keep your ears open and you might just find offers coming your way.
How much: You make the money here.
Of course, for those of you to whom summer is just about long lazy days, Chennai still has a plethora of multiplexes, malls, resorts and cafes to spend summer at, or in true summer style, you can take a long drive to the beach, soak up the sun and relish Chennai’s summer fruits. But if you’re up for it, make some calls, gather up some company, dress right and watch those summer hours disappear.
Wired is at Old #20 New #8, Rutland Gate, 4th street, Nungambakkam, ph: 45038512, 9884095678.
Planet Adventure is at No.8 Sri Krishna Enclave, Water Land Drive, Kottivakkam, ph: 9600016350.
The first play of any festival risks the chance of being forgotten by the end of it but ‘Break Out: Extreme Dance Comedy’ that opened the The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Festival will not suffer that fate. It destroyed every stereotype of dance and theatre that I knew. I loved how the spotlights were used and the way the play so seamlessly shifted from the stage to the audience. The visual panels on the side were mildly distracting but admittedly necessary. Judging from the hoots and applause, except for when the play slowed down a little around the 50th minute, it was definitely a play that will be remembered for a while to come!
I HATE CHENNAI…Are you scandalised enough to keep reading? Good! I needed to make sure. Now that I have your attention, let me explain. I hate that good news on Chennai often gets sidelined while moral-policing news hogs the limelight. I hate that Chennai often gets labelled as regressive because it is conservative.
But most of all I hate that Chennai does not get its due share of credit for the brilliant street food that we have. Shamefully enough, after living in Chennai for 17 years, I discovered the brilliance of its food vendors only yesterday. It happened to be a holiday and mom chanced upon an article on the food fest at Island Grounds.
Of course the conversation on food began, how much had been written about the food fest, and how great it was. Fifteen minutes into the conversation we realised that we were way too hungry to settle for the day’s leftovers for dinner. That decided it. We were going to the food fest. Got into the car and drove there. We dragged some very enthusiastic friends along as well. Got there only to realise that with the crowds and the time we reached (very late) we weren’t going to get any food. So now we had growling stomachs and nothing to fill them with.
Fortunately for us one of the enthusiastic people with us happened to be an expert on “where to get brilliant food for amazing prices”. So trusting the strengths of our stomach we decided we would tour the city and eat what we were offered.
The first vendor we visited was this little corner shop somewhere in Parry’s. We stood on the road, risking our lives for kebabs and katti rolls. Was it worth it? Served on paper plates with the perfect combination of onions and mint chutney, delectable seems to be the only word to describe it.
We moved on. Reluctantly I admit, until we reached our next destination: a push cart serving what they call Burmese noodles. Whether Burma ever had noodles is not something I know or care about. But thank heavens Chennai does. Hot, cold or with soup? With crispy pieces or extra vegetable? A bit of everything… Mouth-watering again!
By this time everyone was shutting down but we weren’t ready to go home, so we ended up at foodie’s paradise: Besant Nagar Beach. Everything from peanuts in newspaper to bajji on plastic plates to cold coffee in hi-fi glasses. Not to forget kulfi and burgers.
Finally called it a night and decided that we had stuffed ourselves enough. I came home ready to proclaim to the world how much I loved Chennai and the intensity of tastes and sensations it offered. Spicy, sweet, crisp, hot, cold, soft, tangy, sharp, strong, bland, fiery, crunchy and salty (though that might have been the beach) I learnt more about city food in three hours than in over 15 years of eating in our restaurants. Good as they are, nothing beats standing and eating on the streets of *Namma Channai’.
I have lived in Chennai all my life. I remember lots of things that have come and disappeared in my 18-year-old life. While I’m of the generation that has woken up not to the smell of filter kappi but rather to my phone buzzing, a generation for whom it is more Chennai than Madras, it does not make me any less a Chennai-ite. I crib about the roads that are always being dug and the water that is eternally stagnant. I curse the endless traffic and the bad drivers. I hate share autos and the people who spit paan on the road and on newly painted walls. I wish we had better, cooler places to hang out. I’d like it to be less noisy. Anyone who doesn’t live in Chennai is missing out! Chennai’s grown and so have I with her.