This week, I focus not so much on Carnatic music as I do on its spiritual home - Chennai.
Last year Chennai reeled under the floods. As millions of us worked with our fellow citizens to bring things back to normal, the strange question of whether or not the annual festival for Carnatic music and classical dance should be held, was being bandied about on social media. Many voices, including mine, were raised in protest. We argued that priorities must be changed to reflect the situation, and more resources and attention should be paid to immediate relief and rehabilitation. Notwithstanding all of this, the season went on, and performances were held.
“The ‘season’ does not stop for any reason”, I was told.
A little later, I too joined in and performed. Most organisations did not budge from the established concert calendar. I was at conflict with myself, and I was angry.
This year, we have suffered multiple shocks in this culturally rich city. With the demise of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and the onslaught of the ferocious Cyclone Vardah, Chennai finds itself trying to make sense of the sordid mess, both literally and politically. Demonetised and debilitated, concert regulars are finding it hard to pay for tickets, preferring instead to hold on to change for essentials. The season, unfazed, has laboured on. Concerts have started in full swing. In any other part of the world, this would seem extraordinary, out of place even.
Are venues unaffected? Are artistes exempt from the circumstances? How do we justify any or all of this?
I believe, well and truly now, in Chennai’s spirit. It was in great evidence last year, but this year reflected something truly outstanding – the greatness of its ordinary people. The day after the cyclone, millions of Chennai citizens took time off standing in ATM queues and started cleaning up the debris, painstakingly and methodically.
Many could be seen smiling, consideration was shown in getting traffic to move unhindered. While electricity and connectivity dipped to an all-time low, people worked with each other to put Chennai back on its feet. As someone helping in the cleanup outside my neighbourhood told me – we have to do everything we can.
Take, for instance, the case of Spaces, a unique venue adjacent to Chennai’s famous Elliot’s Beach created by the multi-faceted dancer Chandralekha.
This quaint amphitheatre has become a haven for expressions and free thought. It has hosted multiple events by legends and amateurs alike. This venue is among the most revered for creative collaborators in the city. Its management, under the able stewardship of visionary art critic and writer Sadanand Menon (a long-time associate of the late dancer) has ensured that Chennai has witnessed some truly extraordinary works of art.
Cyclone Vardah has damaged a substantive portion of the Spaces property. The very next day, artistes and performers, along with neighbours and friends, picked up machetes and pick-axes and started working on clearing the debris. As is always the case in the south, technology was put to great use and the story of Spaces is doing its rounds on many online forums. With the outpouring of support, it looks like the annual cultural festival will be held on schedule in less than ten days.
One of the most important objectives we are taught when learning to play or sing music, is the ability to understand what the heart wants to hear and try and execute it. The best musical renditions are when the performer manages to pierce our thoughts, feelings and imagination through their incredible artistry.
Chennai is certainly an idea framed by music. In its ability to constantly show its indomitability and innate empathy, I believe that it is rightfully the capital city for culture. What is culture, after all, if it does not teach us to approach life with an enlightened equanimity?
The Chennai cultural season has begun. In the larger picture, while I do not brush many of these important issues aside, I believe that this isn’t the time for argument. For once, I am willing to put aside niggling questions of right and wrong, inclusiveness and its opposite, caste and parochialism, gender biases and so forth, and allow people to do what they need to do to get on with things.
The writer is a classical pianist and music educator based in Chennai. He is credited with introducing the piano to contemporary Carnatic performance.
Top picks, best deals and all that you need to know for the Amazon Great Indian Festival
We’ve done the hard work so you can get right to what you want amongst the 40,000+ offers across 4 days.
The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:
Make use of the Amazon trio – Amazon Prime, Amazon Pay and Amazon app
Though the festival officially starts on 21st, Amazon Prime members will have early access starting at 12 noon on 20th September itself, enabling them to grab the best deals first. Sign up for an Amazon Prime account to not miss out on exclusive deals and products. Throughout the festival, Prime members will 30-minute early access to top deals before non-Prime members. At Rs 499/- a year, the Prime membership also brings unlimited Amazon Prime video streaming and quick delivery benefits.
Load your Amazon pay wallet; there’s assured 10% cashback (up to Rs 500). Amazon will also offer incremental cashbacks over and above bank cashbacks on select brands as a part of its Amazon Pay Offers. Shopping from the app would bring to you a whole world of benefits not available to non-app shoppers. App-only deals include flat Rs 1,250 off on hotels on shopping for more than Rs 500, and flat Rs 1,000 off on flights on a roundtrip booking of Rs 5,000 booking from Yatra. Ten lucky shoppers can also win one year of free travel worth Rs 1.5 lakhs.
Plan your shopping
The Great Indian Sale has a wide range of products, offers, flash sales and lightning deals. To make sure you don’t miss out on the best deals, or lose your mind, plan first. Make a list of things you really need or have been putting off buying. If you plan to buy electronics or appliances, do your research on the specs and shortlist the models or features you prefer. Even better, add them to your wishlist so you’re better able to track your preferred products.
Track the deals
There will be lightning deals and golden hour deals throughout the festival period. Keep track to avail the best of them. Golden-hour deals will be active on the Amazon app from 9.00pm-12.00am, while Prime users will have access to exclusive lightning deals. For example, Prime-only flash sales for Redmi 4 will start at 2.00pm and Redmi 4A at 6.00pm on 20th, while Nokia 6 will be available at Rs 1,000 off. There will be BOGO Offers (Buy One Get One free) and Bundle Offers (helping customers convert their TVs to Smart TVs at a fraction of the cost by using Fire TV Stick). Expect exclusive product launches from brands like Xiaomi (Mi Band 2 HRX 32 GB), HP (HP Sprocket Printer) and other launches from Samsung and Apple. The Half-Price Electronics Store (minimum 50% off) and stores offering minimum Rs 15,000 off will allow deal seekers to discover the top discounts.
Big discounts and top picks
The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.
Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.
There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.
There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are LenovoTab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch.
If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.
Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.
The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.
For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.
Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.
For home medical supplies and equipment, keep an eye on the grooming and personal care section. Weighing scales, blood pressure monitors, glucometers, body fat monitors etc. will be available at a cheaper price.
The sale is also a good time to invest in home and kitchen supplies. Mixer-grinders and juicers could see lightning deals. Don’t ignore essentials like floor mops with wheels, rotating mop replacements, utensils, crockery etc. Tupperware sets, for example, will be more affordable. There are attractive discounts on bags, especially laptop bags, backpacks, diaper bags and luggage carriers.
While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!
If you have children, the festival is good time to stock up on gifts for Diwali, Christmas, return gifts etc. On offer are gaming gadgets such as Xbox, dough sets, Touching Tom Cat, Barbies, classic board games such as Life and more. There are also some products that you don’t really need, but kind of do too, such as smartphone and tablet holders, magnetic car mounts for smartphones and mobile charging station wall stands. If you’re looking for enhanced functionality in daily life, do take a look at the Amazon Basics page. On it you’ll find USB cables, kitchen shears, HDMI cables, notebooks, travel cases and other useful things you don’t realise you need.
Check-out process and payment options
Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.
Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon.in and not by the Scroll editorial team.