Feb 27, 2023

Who is this?


I saw this interesting statute on my way in the city of Kolkata. 

Just had the time for a quick click as i was passing by in my car. A man with his hands on his chin in a sad thinking pose. Wonder who he is? Is he a Brit from the colonial past or a Bengali from recent past ? Is he a philosopher, a politician??

May be on my next trip I should checkout...

Feb 26, 2023

Colors of Kolkata 02

Hard working senior citizens of Kolkata...random clicks on the way....

Feb 25, 2023

Colors of Kolkata 01

My first trip to the colorful city of Calcutta / Kolkata. It was a short business trip on a tight schedule. Just managed few random clicks on the way...

Street vendors

The yellow city taxis

The "no refusal" city taxi and the city bus competing

The colorful tricycles

Colorful passerbys

Birds eye view of Kolkata

St Paul's 1847

Mother Teresa statue

Feb 21, 2023

Tamil thai

Digital painting

Today is "World Mother Language day". 

This is a tribute to my mother language : Tamil. 

My painting of Tamil Thai ( Tamil mother)/ தமிழ் தாய்  in a traditional depiction sitting on a lotus seat.

தமிழ் வாழ்க !

Feb 20, 2023

Lalitha Mahal at Madurai

'Lalitha Mahal' - the villa I designed in the year 2003-04 for CT and family.  The design is inspired from Chettinad Architecture to reflect the background of the client. I had to design against many constraints. There was a 800 sqft structure that had to be integrated into the plan. CT's family had a strong belief in vasthu sasthra which became the base for planning. But through the construction phase, CT and family transformed from clients to family friends and remain very close to me till today. It remains one of my most memorable projects from my early career.


Traditional main door

The central open to sky court is the central element around which the house evolved.

Traditional wooden pillars from Chettinad

Visitor lounge

Aachi at the courtyard

WA Award , 3rd cycle 2009

Lalitha mahal won the World Architecture Community award in 2009, a proud moment for me.

6 bed room - 6000 sqft villa plan 

With CT during our trip to Sri Lanka , 2004

Feb 19, 2023

Boom boom oxen

Another vanishing superstitious practice...The Boom boom maadu. These are 'holy' male cows (ox) that are used for fortune telling by a nomadic tribe as a tradition for many generations.  I am surprised to see a few still prevalent in Bengaluru city. The name 'boom boom' comes from the unique booming sound made by the fortune tellers by  rubbing a stick against the drum leather. The ox is trained to answers the questions posed by the owner by shaking its head as "yes or no". Thus predicting the future of the customer. 

Feb 16, 2023

Park wines building at Madurai

A small commercial project I designed in 2003 at the bypass road, Madurai. It was designed as an office but ended up being used as a restaurant and bar. I am not sure whats happening here today after 20 years! 
It was constructed by my late friend Mr.Balan ( Ramanand construction). This was the first column steel cladding work in Madurai. 


Krishna kumar's house at Madurai


This is one of the earliest projects of my career (1996-97). A multi tenant residence for my friend and college junior Krishna Kumar's (Kitcha) family. I designed this when I was in my final year of college and the influence of my training under Architect Ganapathy is very much obvious. It was a 'big' project for a student architect and thanks to the trust Kitcha and his family placed on me, I could do it with confidence.
Engineer Kannapiran was the contractor for whom I did many works later in my practice.

When I met Kitcha in London, 2013

Feb 13, 2023

Feb 5, 2023

My Favorite 9 : Love duets composed by Ilaiyaraaja

My favorite top 9 romantic duet Tamil songs composed by Maestro Ilaiyaraaja...It was a very tough task to filter down just 9 among the hundreds of my favorite Raaja duet melodies. But finally this is my list for various reasons.

1. Valaioosai kalakalakalavena ( movie : Sathya, 1988) 

This evergreen song from the 80s was written by Kavingar Vaali and sung by the legends SP Balasubramanium (SPB) and Lata Mangeshkar. Lataji's voice adds a "chill" to the breezy sindhu bairavi composition by Raaja. The perfect song if you are on a long drive or sitting on a bus by the window with the breeze on your face! Watch out for the quirky bass line. Love the picturization of the song and the onscreen chemistry between Kamal hassan and Amla..

2. Kaadhal kavidhaikal ( movie : Gopura Vasalile, 1991)

A feel good romantic song penned by Piraisudan and sung beautifully by SPB and Chithra. Raaja has deftly used the Maya maalava gowlai ragam with his trademark strings and flute combo interludes to give us a peppy melody. 

3. Pothi vechha ( movie: Mann vaasanai, 1983)

Kavingar Vairamuthu's flawless lyrics form the base for this rustic yet sophisticated composition by Raaja. This is arguably one of Raaja sir's best preludes. Singers SPB and S.Janaki have given life to the song with their playfully romantic expressions. The 1st interlude almost starts like a symphony with violins that settle into a short guitar line which seamlessly culminates with nadaswaram and thavil....unbelievable transformation possible only by the maestro. The clap portion that follows is just magical. The 2nd interlude is another masterpiece with flute and strings. A truly magical composition!

4. Vaa vaa Anbe Anbe (movie: Agni Natchathiram, 1988) 

Sivaranjani is a ragam generally associated with pathos ..but in the hands of Raaja, it has transformed into some of the most lingering romantic melodies. This song is one such gem.. It is written by kavingar Vaali and beautifully rendered by Yesudas and Chithra. 

5. Nee partha paarvaikoru nandri ( movie: Hey Ram, 2000)

This song is a treat to the ears by singers Asha Bhosle and Hariharan. Kamal hassan himself has penned the lyrics and Raaja mesmerizes me with this soulful composition. The Bengali poetry recited by Rani Mukerjee along with the Piano prelude played by the great Viji Manuel adds the required sensuality to launch the song into a blissful orbit. Mesmerizing!

6. Kodiyilae Malliyappu (Movie: Kadalora kavidhaigal, 1986)

A song that I can hear on the loop in the soulful voice of singer Jayachandran along with S.Janaki. Vairamuthu's lyrics add color to this awesome composition by Raaja. The interplay of Violins, Violas, cellos, flutes with Viji Manuel's Keyboard give the song a symphonic grandness yet there is a tenderness overall. Watch out for the Bass underlines that are unique to Raaja. Truly an Ilaiyaraaja Masterpiece !

7. Roja ondru mutham (movie : Komberi Mookan,  1984)

One of my all time favorites, this song is very delicately sung by SPB and S.Janaki. Vairamuth has penned the soothing lyrics. Raaja almost has composed a romantic lullaby that literally is honey to our ears! Watch out for the second interlude that goes out of the box and returns gracefully back to the song!

Another version of the same song is Theeram thedi olam padi with a completely different orchestration and treatment by Raaja in the Malayalam movie Unaru that came in the same year.

8. O Butterfly (movie: Meera, 1992)

Kavingar Vaali has peened this beautiful number. The legend SPB takes the sung to another level. The female voice is another legend Asha Bhosle. However I always have felt that a younger female voice could have added more sensuality to the song. I love how SPB improvises this song on live stage performances ! Please watch out for Raaja's mesmerizing Chromatic string arrangements towards the fag end of the song ...  goosebumps guaranteed !

Oh butterfly is personally special to me as this was the first song I learnt to play Bass guitar - taught by Shamim, my Music guru at college. 

9. Poo vaadai Kaatru ( movie : Gopurangal saivadhillai, 1982)

You might find this a surprise choice in the list. If you have not heard it, please do so with ear phones to truly enjoy this intricately playful composition by Raaja. Just listening to the running Bass lines is enough to take you to heaven! With Vairamuthu's cool lyrics and extraordinary rendition by S.Janaki and Krishnachandran , this song should have received more attention.  

Bonus song that almost made to the top :

Also Visit Love duets in Ilaiyaraaja's voice for my favorite 9 sung by Ilayaraaja  himself.

So what is your top 9 Raaja duets?

Feb 3, 2023

Paragon lunch

Today I had to visit Kochi (Cochin) on an official trip. After my work got over by mid day, I decided to take my juniors to the famous Paragon Restaurant at the Lulu mall. I have great memories of Paragon that I had visited many a times in Calicut about a decade ago with my regional boss Mr.RK. But I was not sure if the Cochin branch will meet the same Calicut standard.

Paragon was originally opened in 1939 at Calicut and has maintained a long legacy with its quality and taste! 

The afternoon rush was surprising. We had to nearly wait for 20 minutes to get a seat! We ordered a plate each of Mutton and Chicken Biriyanis. The biriyani here is unique... typical "calicut" style - that is mildly flavorful with lots of dry grapes.  For the sides we tried their Hamour fish fry and squid panfry. Both were fresh and tasty. We ended with their popular dessert - the elaneer payasam. It was an enjoyable meal. 

The waiting customers

With my team mates Vivek and Masthan

Hamour Fish fry

Mutton Biriyani

Squid pan fry

Elaneer payasam

We also came to know that Paragon has recently opened a branch in Bangalore and that too in a building (1 Sobha at St Marks road) I had concept designed when I was with Sobha Ltd. Need to check it out soon...