Monday, 28 November 2011

Time to clean up the canteen act

By PNV Ram

Any music rasika worth his salt also knows that the Chennai music season is also a food festival. In fact more people visit the sabhas during the season for the gastronomic experience than the music on offer. In recent years, the Gnanambika catering service at the Narada Gana Sabha has been the popular choice, beating the nearby Music Academy canteen in a canter. Jayarama Iyer and his family are a cheerful and hard working presence at the canteen behind the NGS auditorium, where they play their own music in a muted public address system, mostly comprising devotional music in which OS Arun’s bhajans are prominent. Two of the sons also double up as waiters, providing their own background, music as well as slokas in praise of Radhe Krishna, sometimes taking the diner completely by surprise just as he is wading into his favourite Asoka Halva or Rava Dosai.
One aspect of this month-long feast of food for the soul and food for the stomach will soon gain considerable significance, especially in the wake of the persistent rains of the season. It is not uncommon for both rasikas and performers to catch stomach bugs that lay them low for a while.
It is time strict hygiene standards were enforced at all the sabhas during the festival to avoid the recurrence of such setbacks to the total enjoyment of the greatest musical show on earth. The question is, who will assume the responsibility to ensure the maintenance of the highest standards of hygiene in the food stalls of the sabhas without exception? Ideally, the sabhas should subject themselves to the strictest scrutiny in this regard.

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