The book release went off well and a decent crowd attended.But standing on stage at the Music Academy, I realised with a shock that the door to the sanctum, namely the VIP entrance to the main hall, has changed forever. Gone is the ugly glass door which used to open with a bang and shut with a clang each time someone went out or came in. In its place stand a pair of wooden doors, completely covered with felt and therefore not see through. They look nice, but in the removal of the old door, an old social order and a way of life has gone forever.
Lets face it. One of the greatest joys of sitting in the ground floor was that side entrance. It provided entertainment that was equal to and often better than the concert that was in progress. From inside the auditorium, when you were bored and felt like leaving but could not, as the mami with the varicose veins you trod on when you came in is sitting to your right and the elderly gent who was just a few minutes ago describing in graphic detail his fistula to someone over the phone is on your left, you could gaze out at what was happening outside.
And plenty would be happening. Diverse characters would drift there, savour some music, sit on the metal chairs and chin wag for a while before heading towards the canteen. You could see if your friend whom you had invited for lunch at the canteen had come. In case he/she had, he/she would bend low and scan the auditorium for you. This would make many inside the hall peer back, hoping that this was the rescuer whom they were waiting for. Those with near-sighted vision would wave . All these fluttering hands would distract many more and soon the waving would become an epidemic.
This was also the door that you could see through to check if your chauffeur had reported so that you could get up and leave during the tani. That is if you did not want him to come barging in and prodding you awake as you slept with your mouth hanging open, letting out a snore or two. Now there is no other way. You will have to wait for him either to throw open the doors and blunder his way in or he can anyway make a call on the cell-phone which not being on silent, will be easy to hear.
Returning to the drama at the door, you can see who has come without a pass and is trying to convince the boyscout to let them in. You can also see who is trying to force his/her way in with a pink (donor) or grey (lifer) pass and when the boyscout points out that a white pass is needed, the person will pretend to be surprised and go off into the Academy’s nether regions.
This is also the door at which making a late entrance to a concert was realy fashionable. There you stood, with the door ajar, the ac duct above blowing air and making your baluchari/conjeevaram saris swirl about you, even as you surveyed the audience, fully aware that every eye was turned towards you and was likewise sizing you up.
If all this is not there, then what is the joy in going to the Academy? But wait, surely the sudden opening of an opaque door has more drama than a dirty glass one? Surely you can stand at the threshold for a second longer, for after all, your eyes need to adjust to the dark? Surely the driver’s arrival will be noticed by more people? And so the new door is not so bad after all. By shutting off a door, a whole new vista of possibilities has opened up. Some come one, come all! Lets enjoy the season