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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XXI No. 19, January 15-31, 2012
Walking about with Sriram V.

Will they team together to clean it up?

I was invited to speak at Queen Mary's College and I was early. So I wandered around the campus and what I saw saddened me. Ill-kept heritage buildings, garbage here and there, graffiti on the walls and an overall apathy towards what would be a dream campus.

During my talk I deeply regretted how the teachers and the students could keep such a shabby campus. Ten years ago it was this very same college where students protested spiritedly and saved their campus from demolition. For what purpose? It now appears that at least two heritage structures – Beach House (Sir S. Subramania Iyer's bungalow) and Sankara Iyer's bungalow – are slated to be demolished as they are in a precarious state. How did they become like that? Owing to bad maintenance, of course. Do we see any private university or the IIT or the IIMs like this? Even my alma mater, Delhi College of Engineering with its tiny campus, was always clean.

I suggested that for regular dusting and cleaning, the students themselves could pitch in and not wait for the Government to do something. I also said that they must band together to make their campus plastics-free. I don't know if what I said made any difference. But if the girls here are going to become immune to the filth, then what of the future?

* * *

Gem of a hall unfulfilled

Sushi Ravindranath, Mohan Raman and I attended the launch of KRN Menon's autobiography, A Madras Merchant's Life and Times. I haven't read the book as yet and so cannot comment on it, but the quality of speeches at yesterday's event was top class, especially Muthiah's and Menon's. It's a pity the event was not as well-attended as I expected. The Freemasons' auditorium is a gem, there is ample parking space, and yet it never gets full. I wonder why the public shies away.

* * *

Creating memory out of thin air

I traced the old Town Wall of Madras during a Madras Week walk. I must say my reputation for ending on time was dented somewhat. I got carried away with my tales and we finished breakfast at 10 am, a full hour behind schedule.

Our Mohan Raman led the faithful on a tour tracing the locations on Mount Road where film theatres once stood. He did not venture into the southern half of Mount Road and so what he covered included the Sun, Safire, Blue Diamond and Emerald, Anand and Little Anand, the Globe (later Alankar), the Warwick, Wellington, Plaza, Chitra, Gaiety, Casino, the Lyric (later the Electric and then Elphinstone), New Elphinstone, Paragon, Anna, Shanti and the Devi lot. Just four survive. I could not help noticing that almost all the theatres barring two or three were begun by Parsis, Gujaratis, Englishmen and Telugus.

A few common threads across both walks. We were trying to recreate memories out of thin air. The landmarks have all vanished. Will heritage tours soon become phantom trails? And the pile-up of garbage, the stench, the noise levels and the frequency of public nuisance (shitting/pissing) are all frightfully off-putting.

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In this Issue

Is conservation on right track?
Neglect threatening QMC building
Beach, bins & beauty
Krishnan entertains off the court
In the Fort & outside...
Walking about with
Sriram V.
Collecting our memories
'Curdrice cricket'
Dennis no 'menace' in Madras
Inspiring a crop of chess champions
Changing times
Fly away with them...
Children's focus during Madras Week

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan


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