Margazhi of music and food

Margazhi of music and food

The month of December used to herald the arrival of a new year with greeting cards but all that is a thing of the past with friends and relatives sending messages through WhatsApp and Facebook. What is painful is that most of the greetings are forwarded messages, so with a few clicks of the mouse, their social obligation is completed.

For me, with New Year round the corner, the month of December, as always promises to be exciting. I look for the advertisement in the local daily announcing the release of the almanac for the ensuing Carnatic music festival at all the sabhas in the city and suburbs as well. I have a plastic folder exclusively for this purpose where I stack up the schedule for each sabha in the form of newspaper clippings, handouts received at the venues when I pass that way, or even the brochures and pamphlets shared by friends and relatives. I use this opportunity to update my abysmally low comprehension of this fine art starting from familiarising myself with the fundamental terms used in this music form, like the words ‘thalam’, ‘ragam’, ‘shruthi’ etc.

An added attraction at the kutcheris is the catering service available at the venues, offering a variety of lip-smacking delicacies. So, for a self-confessed foodie like yours truly with an ear for good music, this season is a god-given opportunity to quench my thirst for music and satiate my eternal craving for food.

Some of the caterers have impressive names that attract your attention and linger in your mind till the next music season, like ‘Mountbatten Catering Services’. The menu on offer is honestly the familiar stuff like idlis, vadas and dosas but the names for the dishes that they dish out, or the prefixes and suffixes for the items they serve, attracts us. It could be the ‘twin-tower’ idli that reminds one of a burger or ‘beans-capsicum-carrot’ vada or the ‘cauliflower’ masala dosa. It’s all in the name. More fanciful the name, all the more curiosity to taste it.

With newspaper clippings and pamphlets in one hand and a pen in another, I usually tick the concerts to attend against their dates. My neighbour, who was once watching me curiously, told me that it reminded him of people outside the race course, about to get in and bet on a horse.

Hurt by his analogy, I asked him what the month of Margazhi is famous for or, better still, what the second half of December each year reminds him of. Pat came his reply, that it was the time to receive diaries and calendars from all and sundry. I left the place regretting having this question in the first place to someone whose interest in Carnatic music appeared to be worse than mine.