A fortnight ago The Man from Madras Musings had written about the chaotic traffic arrangements on Beach Road. Now, MMM is glad to report, these steps to ease vehicular flow have all been reversed and the bottlenecks have also reduced. But what is slowing down traffic is a huge and colourful dragon that has come up on the premises of the Lady Willingdon Institute for Higher Education. In its scale and size it is so enormous that passersby cannot but help stopping and staring. MMM had his eye on what initially looked like a roller coaster made out of bamboo almost from the time it was first put up. He initially assumed that it was one of those contraptions on which members of the public could undertake hair raising rides (hair raising for those not challenged in that department in the manner of MMM) accompanied by blood-curdling cries. But that this was not so soon became evident when the bamboo scaffolding began to get covered with canvas and coloured paper. And soon thereafter appeared the dragon, complete with fiery mouth, bulging bloodshot eyes, scales and lashing tail.

‘Entry of the Dragon’ was the rather strange name of the jamboree, whatever that meant. The more prudish readers of this publication will forgive MMM for first thinking that it was all an advertisement for a locally made aphrodisiac. But on closer inspection (and NOT because MMM thought it was one of THOSE things), the whole arrangement turned out to be a rather low key and tacky entertainment fair. Inside were a couple of merry-go-rounds and other what’s-their-names, all of them of a uniform sadness. The dragon was, however, a work of art. Those who wanted to visit the fair entered through its gaping mouth and came out presumably from the rear end in a rather alimentary fashion. But of that MMM did not pause to take a look. He also noticed that after the entry of the dragon, there was not much to do. A quick affair it turned out – just a couple of thrills maybe?

But leaving that aside, all this gave MMM some time to wander around the campus named after a First Lady of Madras and later Vicereine of India who was known for her pushy nature and pursuit of the best in whatever took her fancy. And MMM must mention here that the place does not do her memory any good. Unkempt grounds, a graceful building that is rather indifferently maintained, and plenty of neglect was what MMM could see. If this was the state of an institute for advanced education, what of the lesser ones in the neighbourhood? Well, enough and more has been written in this publication about at least two age-old institutions that stand within stone’s throw, both now doo­med, sorry deemed universities (and both aptly domed as well), which are equally shabby. The populace that came to enjoy the entry of the dragon, not that there were many, also added to the mess at the Lady Willingdon Institute.

And that brings MMM to two other points. The first, as to what exactly is an institute for higher education doing lending its grounds for a low quality entertainment fair? The place has in the past been used as a dumping area for Republic Day floats and also as the venue for a rather shoddy book-fair with heavily political undertones (the argument being that the other and bigger one in January had political overtones of the opposite camp), but such an event with coconut shies and hoopla-hoops did not do it credit. Secondly, why does the police, which is constantly belly-aching (a rather apt expression, given the paunches of some of our policemen) about traffic congestion in the beach area, give permission for such events?