World Heritage Day has come and gone. The Man from Madras Musings was asked the quotidian questions and was left wondering if heritage has to necessarily be portrayed as boring and dull. MMM perked up, however, at the more than usually daft queries and is still chuckling over a couple.
A young reporter from one of Chennai’s newspapers called up to find out if MMM knew that the World Chess Championships were due to be held in the city. MMM informed her that he did. Whereupon the caller asked MMM if it was not rather dull of the authorities to host the event at some stadium or the other. Where else could, these be held, wondered MMM. “Why, Sir, why not one of the palaces in the city?” came the bright answer.
“And how many palaces can you think of?” asked MMM.
“Er… none, but we thought you would know. And it would make a column for our paper.”
MMM said he could think of none too, but loath to let go of what promised to be material for this column, he asked the caller as to how many people were expected.
“Two people play the game…” began the voice somewhat condescendingly at which juncture MMM said rather coldly that he knew his chess.
“The audience is likely to run into lakhs,” said the voice. MMM then asked as to what was the best place in the city that could host such numbers.
“A stadium,” came the reply.
MMM rested his case and the telephone receiver. The next day, the same newspaper carried a photo of the residence of a cement and horse-racing baron of the city and claimed that it was an ancient palace! So much for heritage and its awareness!
Another caller wanted to know if MMM could sum up in five minutes all that he knew of the Indo-Saracenic style. A third made bold to ask if it was OK with MMM if the caller sent in a questionnaire which MMM could fill and mail back in twenty minutes so that the caller could meet a deadline on heritage. MMM could not help reflecting that this was a cut-paste world.