Feeling at home during Margazhi has a lot to do with finding a good place to stay for out-of-towners, especially NRIs, who come to perform during the December music festival. This is where home-stays are a boon.
When Vijay Kumar, a businessman based in Shanghai, visits Chennai every year during December, he chooses to stay at a homestay in R A Puram. Reason: the area is a stone’s throw from The Music Academy, Narada Gana Sabha and The Mylapore Fine Arts Club.
Several NRIs follow the same choice as Vijay’s, when they make their yearly visit to the South.
Makesh Jayaram, who has been renting out his property near Park Sheraton for many years now says, “I have been offering accommodation to guests during Margazhi season for the last six years. Guests, mostly from the US, will begin arriving from the 18th of this month.” His business has been so steady that it has inspired repeat guests and regulars, “There is one particular person from Hong Kong, who has been a regular. Earlier, he visited Chennai from Japan, where he was based at then.”
Jayaram adds that apart from sabha-hopping and the trysts at the famous canteens in the venues, the guests are keen on the lecture-demonstrations that happen during the day time. During the stay, that ranges from 30-45 days, many also opt to combine the trip for medical visits, pilgrimages, shopping and meeting relatives in the city
Families also opt to stay together, says Balaji Ramesh, one of the partners who runs Open dors, “We have a family, in which the children are from the US, and their parents are here in Chennai. They are staying together at our accommodation throughout this music season.” Ramesh adds that the home-stay options among NRIS has gained momentum this year. “I have heard from others in the field that business was dull last year. I started accommodation services for the Margazhi crowd only this year and the numbers have been encouraging,” adds Ramesh, who has two properties at Gopalapuram and Mandaveli.
Interestingly, there are accommodations that cater to single women, also mostly NRIs. Madhulika Manning, who has opted to rent her accommodation in the leafy suburb on Greenways Road in R A Puram explains, “A lot of single expats visit the city during this time. Many women who travel alone look for home-stays for safety. Hotels, however comfortable they are, cannot have the atmosphere of a home.”
And for those who seek a little more luxury during their stay in balmy Chennai, have an option too. Nirupama Reddy of Hanu Reddy Residences, who is offering a one-of-a-kind bungalow experience, sums up the trend. “It is a home away from home, where they get privacy and comfort in one place,” she says.