The remains of heritage

The Man from Madras Musings was sunk in what can only be described as a slough of despond. There were the incessant rains to begin with and then, when he went across to Fort St George, he discovered that the Last House on Snob’s Alley had reached its end – in short, MMM had seen the last of it. It was enough to sink the most optimistic of heritage enthusiasts. 

It was while MMM was deep in his grey thoughts that the telephone rang. TrueCaller revealed that it was a TV journalist. MMM answered most reluctantly, the last thing he wanted to do was to speak to a crew that had no idea as to what it was that was being covered. But it was his turn to be stunned – the lady at the other end was very well informed and spoke knowledgeably about several monuments inside Fort St George. She wanted to record MMM speaking about each of these places she said and so could she please fix a time and place for the same. MMM perked up immediately. This was clearly a new beginning. Here was this informed source wanting to do a serious study of the monuments and it was clearly MMM’s duty to help. 

But first MMM, and this is where MMM, in MMM’s opinion, made his first error, wanted to know as to how the lady at the other end had such an exhaustive list of buildings in Fort St George. From a list of protected monuments that the ASI releases periodically was the answer. MMM was most impressed. And then he clearly made what in retrospect was a blunder – Why did the lady want MMM to record his ‘bytes’ on each of these buildings he asked. And then with a glimmer of hope he asked if the Government was finally taking steps to now restore each of these places. 

No, came the answer. That was not the case. Was not MMM aware of a practice in most media houses of arranging for obituaries and tributes for well-known persons long before they actually die? MMM said he was. Well, said the lady, this was exactly what was being done, only it was being done for buildings. Given that all of these structures would collapse one by one given their state of maintenance, the channel was pre-recording obituaries for each of these so that they, the channel, would not be caught short as and when they, the buildings actually fell. 

MMM’s slough of despond just got deeper.

My book, Chennai A Biography is out – get it on Amazon or from any bookstore.