Although his family lived in the Philippines for a short while, Viswanathan Anand grew up and spent most of his childhood in Madras, the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Having lived in Europe for a long time, Anand has now moved back to the city that was named Chennai in 1996 by the state government. It is the host city of the 2013 Chess World Championship between Anand (the "Tiger of Madras") and Magnus Carlsen. On two rest days, I got the opportunity to visit several places which played a role in the life of the young Vishy Anand. Here's a pictorial report.
On the second rest day, on 14 November, I visited Anand's old school, the
Don Bosco Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Egmore, Chennai
L-R Eric van Reem, Stefan Löffler, Cathy Rogers, Lennart Ootes,
Peter Doggers, Ian Rogers & Hans-Walter Schmitt
The school is named after
the Italian Roman Catholic priest and educator and writer of the 19th century
Ram Bhat, a classmate and friend of Vishy, gave us a tour through the school
On the wall we quickly spotted this tribute photo collage
Outside, a cricket tournament was under way
Hans-Walter Schmitt chatting with perhaps one of the new Sachin
...and checking out the tournament's prizes
Cricket is the #1 sport in India...
...but this form of (table)tennis is also quite fun to play!
Some statistics about the staff & students of the school today
One of the class rooms, which has hardly changed since
Vishy attended the school in the 1970s and early 1980s
Anand used to play chess at the Tal Chess Club, part of the Russian Cultural Centre
where sometimes Russian coaches would visit, e.g. Yuri Averbakh
A cabinet with Russian memorabilia includes some chess books
These days the chess club has a different name...
...but still many prizes from the old days are kept...
...like this one, a tourney where Anand played first board!
Culture includes food: a lunch in the splendid Dakshin restaurant
with banana and rice dumplings together
with coconut, lentil, koriander and garlic/tomato served on a banana leaf...
...followed by the typical (and excellent) South Indian filter coffee
The chef explains how this sweet milky coffee
, made from dark roasted coffee beans and chicory, is made
South Indian coffee is brewed with a metal device that resembles two cylindrical cups, one of
which has a pierced bottom that nests into the top of the "tumbler" cup, leaving ample room
underneath to receive the brewed coffee. The upper cup has two removable parts:
a pierced pressing disc with a central stem handle, and a covering lid.
Nicknamed "meter coffee", it is typically served after pouring back and forth between the
dabarah and the tumbler in huge arc-like motions of the hand. This serves several
purposes: mixing the ingredients (including sugar) thoroughly; cooling the hot coffee
down to a sipping temperature; and most importantly, aerating the mix without
introducing extra water (such as with a steam wand used for frothing cappucinos).
Our tour through "Anand's Chennai" included a visit to Vidya Sagar
...a school for children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disabilities which is supported by Vishy and Aruna Anand
Anand's signature on the wall, with business cards designed by one of the pupils
The energetic Ms. Rajul Padmanabhan showed us around
The wheelchairs are all named
A few creations by the pupils
This group is about to do some exams
Communication often goes via a letter board
Young children are helped with vision stimulation
This group includes at least one chess lover!
The biggest chess fan, named Karthik, was the one to invite Anand
to become ambassador and happens to play
During our visit M. Swaminathan showed his drawing skills
He was given chess pictures...
...copied them by blowing up certain elements...
...and this was the result!
A speech given by Anand at the school: "For me Vidya Sagar , is a place where i go for inspiration. The laughter and the spark in each child's eye speaks of a struggle that has been overcome. A struggle from within and a struggle to exist as an equal in society. The need to be someone and not anyone. For me Vidya Sagar is about each child that wants to conquer and have that little piece of the world. I am very proud to be part of Vidya Sagar. It is an institution that has taught me to be humble. Each child at Vidya Sagar is different, Bright and all that they ask of us is a smile a healing touch and some compassion. Wishing Vidya Sagar and all the people who make it happen all the very best".
On the wall we noticed these wishes for Vishy ("anna" means brother) — he will need it!