CHENNAI:A full-blown car carnival is probably the second best thing to waking up late on a Sunday morning. The 14th edition of the Indian Oil All Women Dutchess Club Car Rally saw the parking arena of Hotel Savera morph into a fair ground, complete with women in costumes, a stage for photo ops and a bee-line of cars — all customised to suit this year’s theme ‘Madras to Chennai’.
Participants of the nearly 85 teams started gearing up for the two-hour drive from Hotel Savera to Orchid Springs in Anna Nagar, as early as 8 am. Adding to the mood was a koothu performance at the venue, with a floating group of dancers, who joined in for a while, before proceeding to do the final touches on their car.
While most were all-women teams, one could spot a male member in a few, trying their best to match the thematic costumes of the ladies. While a few women came dressed in pattu saris, complete with matching bling and kolam stickers on the bonnet of their car, a few others took the unconventional route to suggest the journey from the old to new. “As you can see, we want to bring in the traditional element through the veshti which we have draped on one leg, and a modern touch, with jeans on the other,” said Hamsa Rani, one of the participants at the rally. “It’s not just the costume, we have been reading a lot about the city, especially in historian S Muthiah’s books,” she added.
Hamsa’s team was among the few others who wanted to shout out the theme as loud as possible through their costumes. One of the teams had the Kaapi to Capuccino print on their T-shirts, and another had women draped in silk half saris over jeans and T-shirt. Yet another took the ‘black and white’ era quite literally, and named their team so. Dressed in a zebra-striped shirt, a member of the team took us around a specially-customised Audi with black and white photos of the Central Station, Zoo, Spencer Plaza and other landmarks in the city, taken in the 1880s.
Them apart, there were a few who extrapolated the theme to the significance of unity in society. “Unity is the best way to adopt change. The city has adapted to several changes, it’s not just in the name. We want to emphasise on the importance of standing for each other,” said Amrita, who was participating for the first time in the rally along with her family.
According to Sujata Mundhra from the Duchess Club, the participation shot up this year probably because of two reasons. “We have added the new family category this time, and the calculation bit that participants find very tedious, has been scrapped. That might have roped in more participants” she said with a laugh.
Actor Ganesh Venkatraman flagged off the cars, and expressed his interest in being part of the rally in future. “I have a huge craze for cars, and though I haven’t been part of any rally as such, I would love to join this one, if they allow men next year, or probably in the family category,” he said with a smile. “I love the feeling of being here on a Sunday morning and seeing so many cheerful faces. These are enterprising women who have a spirit of adventure in them. And this rally is really not about competition, but also about trying something new, and creating awareness. I am sure people on Chennai roads are going to wonder seeing all those decorated cars,” he says.