Come summer, Chennai's classical musicians and dancers are abroad — on work-cum-holiday. Chitra Swaminathan speaks to some of them
Place visited: The U.S.
Excitement peaks in summer. I am generally overseas for almost a month on a concert tour. But I ensure I make time for an adventure-packed holiday with my family. This year, my husband has not been able to join us but I'm having fun moments with my son and daughter in Baltimore and Champagne. Pardon the cliché, I've been there and done it all — snorkelling, parasailing, cruising to the Bahamas and the islands of Mazatlan and Carbo in Mexico, chilling out by the vast expanse of blue in Hawaii, enjoying dizzy rides at Disneyworld, understanding heritage at museums, shopping in the ever-so-glamorous New York, going on gondola rides in Venice, walking back in time to catch a glimpse of the awe-inspiring Colosseum in Rome…I can go on. The experience and energy of each place is as distinctive as the musical notes.
Place visited: The U.S.
I avoid planning my outings when I travel abroad. It never works. I was in the U.S. in the first week of May for a concert at the Kennedy Centre but again missed seeing the Statue of Liberty. Hope I am able to make it when I go there next month. Exploring places apart, I enjoy exchanging notes with local artistes during my overseas trips. When in America a must-do is eating at the restaurants in Manhattan. The variety is mind-boggling. When I'm full I go Downtown for a stroll. I also love London for its food, and Paris and Venice for their strong bond with the past.
Place visited: Sri Lanka
If it's May, it has to be Sri Lanka. My concert at the annual cultural festival in Colombo is something I never like to miss. The discipline, the deep love for the arts and the positivity of the people (despite years of conflict) keep me charged for months. This year was special as I was there during Buddha Purnima. It was a sight to behold to see the entire city lit up with …..a paper lamp in amazing colours and decorated with filigree work. It was like a carnival with people from nearby towns and villages coming to Colombo in open carts, clad in colourful clothes, tucking into the delicious food available at every street corner. The music and the merriment have left me mesmerised.
Place visited: The U.K.
It was London, this time. Besides concerts, I made a trip with my family to Badminton (85 miles west of London) for the popular horse trials event. It was wonderful to see the amazing feats performed by well-groomed horses. The event also sees the coming together of jockeys from around the world. I always make it a point to take off to places that have something unusual to offer and are not usually on the tourist radar. At Badminton, I must have been the only Asian around.
Places visited: Singapore and Abu Dhabi
We are just back from Singapore and Abu Dhabi and preparing to leave for Australia and New Zealand. It's interesting how our art has taken us close to cultures and communities. Though it was not our first visit to Singapore, the city continues to amaze us with its cleanliness, adherence to road rules, organised shopping streets and comfortable living. Besides shopping, we make it a point to visit the landmarks of the cities where we stay. We have fond memories of the Niagara Falls and the Alps. Hope we are able to squeeze in time to go around Australia and New Zealand, known for their natural splendour.
Places to be visited: The U.S. and the U.K.
I had to reschedule my travel plans to be in Chennai with my son who is home for vacation. I will soon be going on a performance tour to the U.S. and Britain. I look forward to going on a shopping and eating binge with my New York-based sister. She has promised to take off for a few days — it will be a return to those good-old childhood days.