Wednesday, May 25, 2005

My Lankan Trip

Finally. Got me some time.
The flight to Sri Lanka was bad. We flew Jet. The Pilot taxied and surged up during take off, lurched a few times on the 50 min flight and plonked on the runway during landing....And the aero bridge refused to let itself get unstuck from the flight before take off. And when it did, since it was slightly cold, I asked for a blanket which smelt like it had never been washed. Almost choked. And the food came and then Tipu took off with some wise cracks which made me feel like I wanted to puke. I literally begged him to let me off. Since I am sensitive to toilet humour. He caught on to that note and didn't let go. Uncomfortable flight. To say the least. And a lady came up to me and said she would like to have my pic taken. That was one of the nice things about the flight. ;)
We were put up at Colombo Plaza. Awesome Hotel. Intended to do some swimming there. But couldnt manage it. Regret that. As soon as we landed, we dumped our things in the room and headed out to do some shopping. Some stuff are gr8 at Lanka. Clothes. And we headed out to House of Fashions. One of the countries that India is an advantage as long as the curency is concerned. They were having a long weekend. With Buddha Poornima and all. Its major there. The shopping centres were no doubt teeming with people. That done.
By the way inflation is horrendous in Sri Lanka. A kg of onions is 75 bucks, one caulifower is 300. And they confiscated all the mangoes we carried at Chennai Airport. The airport can open shop and sell mangoes. They would be so much richer.
We went to Sugadadasa Indoor Stadium, seating capacity of close to 6 thou, to do a sound check. After waiting for quite some time, my turn came. Mathangi, I came to know was very meticulous about checking out ALL the songs she had to sing. I have never done something like that, cos, at the end of the day, the final show has nothing to do with the rehearsal. Harish Raghavendra had once come straight from the Airport to the show and he said that it was one of his best concerts...... We went back to our room at close to 1 a.m.
Had a sound sleep till ten in the morning. Went again to do another sound check which didn't happen cos the Sound Eng. didn't turn up. Back to the room around 2:30 and we went to have lunch at close to 3 at a chinese restaurant. The food was just awesome. Didn't expect it from Sri Lanka. By the time it was close to 4:30 and had only enough time to take another shower and try to dress my hair. We reached the stadium and the show started on time.
This show was actually a talent hunt. Shakthi FM had organised Radio Superstar, to bring out all the local talents. The final 5 were chosen to sing on that day before Bharadwaj sir who gave the verdict that a Prashanthi from Colombo was the winner. She sang Poo Pookkum Osai and is richer by 1 Lakh local currency. Wonder why we didnt get stuff like that when I was taking part in some of the competitions. We got countless trophies and medals, which wouldnt have even our name inscribed on it. Its sad cos I might as well have not taken the trouble and gone to some place, bought the metal, and stack it up at home. *sigh*

The show started bang on time at 6:31. They were under pressure because the show had to go live on air from 7:30 onwards on Shakthi FM. To start with there was a crowd on some 1000-1200 in a 360 degree seating area. Thats tough. Half the people were behind me. The VIPs in the front. The Run Order was slightly upsetting. Harish was the opening batsman. And then Tipu and Mathangi sang 4 songs back to back. And Manicka Vinayagam sir got in a song of his which was based on the tsunami. Bharadwaj sir came in after that and he performed. And the competition started. After another couple of songs after the competition I finally went on stage. I had almost lost steam by then. It was first time performance for Jassie Gift Sir and me. Worse was Jassie Gift sir's entry was much later than mine. They could have given some consideration to two new people who were being introduced to the local audience for the first time. I sang "Ennai Theendi Vittai" from Kuthu, which they claimed was a super hit in Sri lanka, 4 lines of KMI before that, "Noothana" from Karka Kasadara, Dhoom and my song from New. Manicka Vinayagam sir could sing only 2 songs even though there were people who were waiting to listen to him.
Harish makes no ado and has an excellent sense of humour. He has this uncanny ability to mimic almost anyone to a T. Once he starts talking I have to really clutch on to my stomach so that I dont split my seams laughing.
The other songs that featured on the show were Kisu Kisu Manusha, January Maadham, Koduva Meesai, Andangakaka, Lajjawathiye, Raa Raa, Nyabagam Varudhe, Gilli, and some more.
The show over we got to sign a lot of autographs, with some books landing right on our faces. Some threw it at me to get the attention. We had to sign and throw it back since they were at the gallery and they had to lean down a lot to reach us or even throw the pens and papers at us. Some were like "akka akka please" or "anna anna".
Got back to the hotel and fell asleep. Didnt really get anything to eat since it was too late. Had ice cream :) Its a lot of work for mom during shows, right from the smallest thing to the way I sing and managing my tracks. Once a documentary film maker, researcher, now just a mother.
Some times she jokes that she is just my Aaya. Its not really a joke. But I know she misses her work. And its very tough for a die hard intellectual to not to do any intellectual work than run around behind the daughter's career.
Got up late the next morning, and we left to our friend's place to have lunch. And to the airport from there. Since it was a BuddhaPoornima, shopping was not possible as its a national holiday. So if you wanna holiday in Sri Lanka, make sure u dont get caught on one such day. Wanted to check out Odel, which is a great shopping place. Couldn't. They have also opened up in Chennai at Spencer Plaza but I dont know whether it will be that big here.
Swarnamaalya was on the flight with us. I chatted up with her. Hadn't seen her in a long time. I know her since the Anbulla Snehidhiye times. So we got updates on our lives, came to know she was an avid reader. She also hosts a show called Dhimi Thaka Tha on Shakthi TV.
Anbulla Snehidhiye is how I got to know our friends at Sri Lanka. Mrs. Mala Sivendran. Mr. Sivendran is a Civil Lawyer.They have two sons and a daughter. Nishendran, a Tennis Player ranked somewhere around 400 in the international arena, under 18, Harendran and Mayuri. Mayuri was the start point. I first met her at Apollo Hospitals. She was in there due to brain cancer. She is a fighter. All of 7 years. I first met her 3 years back. Her mom wanted to keep her as happy as possible and indulged her every wish and whim of her seeing actors like Jothika, Vikram, Vijay, Ajith, Shalini, Trisha and then someone like me. The kid loved the title song of Anbulla Snehediye. And she wanted to meet me and hear me sing that. Since Mrs Mala is friends with Mrs. Khushboo, things were a bit easy. She called Madras Talkies and got across to us. So I met the girl and her mother there. And for that the family was thankful. They placed their Merc at our disposal whenever we wanted throughout the trip, in addition to the transport provided by Shakthi Group. We share a great bond now and I hope and pray it lasts.
One request here, though the kid has recovered miraculously, it would be nice if who ever is reading this blog could just pray for her for one minute. So that her parents, could enjoy her company for some more time, so that a family can be fuller for some more time, so that they can hear her laughter and prattle for some more time. Collective Prayers are super effective.
Coming back to Chennai, the Airport authorities thought we were smuggling gold in to the country since they saw a lot of metal. So we opened our baggage and showed the disappointed authorities that all the metal they saw was costume jewellery.
As soon as we stepped out, the heat almost slapped our faces. But regardless of the heat, the grime, dust, I love my city and my Home. Its where my heart is ....


Kaps said...

Looks like the trip was an action-packed one. The Kuthu song is quite popular in S'pore as well. The local FM channel plays it quite often.

Chez said...

Kaps, u r really a gifted person to have tamil songs on radio :-)

And Jimmy,
Nice account of the Lanka trip... i felt as if i was beside you.. cos the narration was superb. :-) it started with the plane trip and ended with the plane trip... really nice.. unlike me, u do seem to know how to KISS (Keeping It Short and Sweet).. hehe

the best thing i liked was the last line.. 'back home' is always sweet!

Vasanth said...

yoooo.....feel like have travelled along to Lanka....good screen play...will be going there soon :-) you could have made some $$$$ incase you had authorised this blog to be published in a commercial area...happy for you & aunty....

Ganesh said...

Nice writeup

I enjoyed my stay in colombo even though it was only about 8hrs :)
I stayed near a sea resort, excellent scenic view and just chilled out there

virumandi said...

the trip would've been really tiring..but exciting..yeah.i can sense from the blog..all the readers would feel as if they are also with you!!..on stage or on first row along with VIPs!!!

The name Mayuri is very familiar..if i am not wrong..there was movie called Mayuri where the heroine has her leg amputated but still fights back to do Bharatnatyam!!! same way..this Mayuri is also a fighter..u have done it Mayuri..v are all with you!!

Cipher said...


It was superb write up. But u just did shopping or singing? No temple visits. I guess u missed a wonderful opportunity to see the celebs there during Buddha poornima.

Sriram said...

Whaaaaaat? No "kannathil muthamittal"? awww.. too bad! nice narration btw.. also, you've seemed to drop back to not replying to comments. *trying to act annoyed* busy eh? ;)

As for confiscating Mangoes @ the airport, you are not really supposed to take fruits from one country to another. (some dumb environmentalist came up with the idea that "native species" might be damaged cuz of insects or some nonsense).. I tried sneaking a watermelon on my flight to the US and they somehow detected it and confiscated it! :( Oh well, i tried, but I succeeded in sneaking a no-talent dude named Sriram to the US.) Peace!

Chinmayi said...

Yeah Sriram, held up. And also combatting some deadly virus on my system. Dumb idea that fruits thingie.
KMI was not there in the list, but I sang it anyway. ;)
Couldn't see any temples. For one all of them were jam packed and we were rushed for time. Even the supposed shopping spree was done in an hour. Now which girl would do that ?? ;)
I saw a high profile Buddhist Monk at the airport. There were bells clanging for his arrival and throughout his way to his destination, wherever that was, followed and preceded by police cars.

IBH said...

very good write up...and I loved the way ur mom has shaped up ur career giving up her own...moms are the best :)

fruit thingie, yeah yeah! I remember reading somewhere that Hillary Swank was held in NZ airport coz she tried to sneak in with her some oranges and that by law is not allwoed! :)

vimal said...

Such a lengthy post.
And I was thinking you are very busy.
Looks like Iam not alone.

Twin-Gemini said...

Good narration. And the pictures? :-)

Anything from the farmland is a complete no-no at the immigration counter.

I remember a funny incident when I was coming back from Madras after my sister's wedding. I had lots of laddoos packed in my suitcase and when it went under the Xray machine, the officer asked me what they were - I was fumbling for words to explain it to him and told him that I was coming back from my sister's wedding, then he immediately asked me if it was laddoos. I was totally amazed at his knowledge. But I later realized, this shouldnt be too much of a surprise, given the fact that they must be seeing hundreds of desis on an hourly basis!

Cipher said...

Shopping in an hour thats way too fast...

Twin-Gemini said...

To Cipher: You dont know women, then! :-)

Chinmayi said...

Well TG.. looks like you know quite a bit !