Heritage never had it so good. Hundreds of beautiful buildings, each a work of art, have fallen by the wayside and not one press reporter bothered. But every one of them is deeply concerned about the demolition and replacement with identical design of the compound wall along the Marina. And they have all been calling up The Man from Madras Musings.
Is it not shocking, asked one bright thing, that the Government had decided to demolish the wall? MMM remonstrated that it was after all a wall and the Government had begun the process a year ago. What was more, it was replacing the old design with an identical new one and so MMM did not consider this a matter of concern. The voice at the other end was clearly disappointed. It had called MMM to get a byte condemning the whole rebuilding and here was MMM preparing to toady to the Government. The voice went dead.
The next call was from another bright young thing, which had clearly done some homework, by way of collecting hearsay. The compound wall was built by the Nawabs of Arcot, it declared, and given that background it said that it wanted a statement from MMM to the effect that the Government was destroying our past. MMM disagreed and said that the compound was not built by the Nawabs and it was of later provenance. To this the voice disagreed and said that it had sources that said that the wall was over three hundred years old. MMM then asked as to why those sources were not speaking up against the demolition. To this the voice remained silent.
A third one was the best. It was a TV crew who made out that they were doing MMM a favour by inviting him to air his views. They also did not listen to anything that MMM said, interrupting continuously with a hiss and a series of okays that went like this – ssssss yah okokokokkkkkk. MMM, when he could get a word in between, flatly refused to come to the studios to lament over the compound wall. The voice, having hissed and okayed, then sought to give the story a positive twist. It asked if MMM would give a statement supporting the University of Madras whose Syndicate had refused to give permission for the demolition of their wall as part of the same replacement exercise. To this MMM countered stating that the University could not claim to be a protector of heritage as its own Senate House has remained locked and is once again being neglected after an expensive restoration exercise. “Senate House? Is that a Roman ruin in our city?” asked the reporter. It was MMM’s turn to hang up.
The story did not end there. Yet another TV studio called up The Man from Madras Musings. When he firmly refused to be interviewed, the caller asked MMM if he would, instead, consent to speak on the Land Acquisition Bill. When MMM said he knew nothing on the subject, the voice said that did not matter as all that the TV channel needed was someone who could speak loudly.