The High Court of Madras gave the Government of Tamil Nadu a list of heritage buildings in the city that it felt ought to be protected. This listing was put together by a committee formed by the High Court especially for this purpose. The listing had copious notes on the history of each structure, its state of preservation and also a suggested category of grading into which each edifice could be placed. The Chief was part of this committee and when you read the report, which runs into several hundred pages and weighs a tonne, you can hear his voice coming through, loud and clear. This document was given to the Government 13 years ago.
Considering that it had come from the High Court and was part of a judgement, you would think that the document would have been accepted in toto. But this is a democracy and how can any Government accept blindly what the Judiciary hands out? And so the Government decided that it had to independently list out the heritage buildings. And to do this it decided that it would rather not trust the historians and architects who worked in the High Court committee but instead place its confidence on undergraduate students in the various engineering colleges that dot the State. These have of course been using the original document (which is now helpfully on the web) and cribbed all of its contents for their own reporting. The only surprising element is that while the original committee put together a list of 468 buildings in a few months, the various students of the numerous colleges have, even with the original report in their possession, managed to list just 60 buildings or so in the past 13 years.
Last week, a couple of young things called MMM. They had, they said, a few questions on two heritage structures. They had originally called on the Chief and he had directed them to MMM. It did strike MMM in passing that a wonderful photo opportunity was missed, due to the absence of a photographer, in catching the Chief’s expression when the two young things asked him about the two heritage structures. Be that as it may, the two young things were now supplicating MMM for information. The two spots, one a long-vanished viaduct (only you could have played such a trick, Chief) and another an obscure park had MMM scurrying for information himself. It then dawned on MMM that these two young things could get information on the two old things by simply accessing the original report. He asked them to do that whereupon he was supplied with the most original answer – the relevant pages were missing in the copy that is doing the rounds.
MMM recollects that a popular Tamil film in recent years had the title Some Pages Missing in the Middle.