Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVII No. 16, December 1-15, 2017
Now, Chief, The Man from Madras Musings knows how touchy you are on matters concerning heritage and, so, let MMM inform you upfront that he has nothing against the Museum Theatre per se. It is an excellent piece of architecture and its round form makes it stand out. And it is one of the few heritage buildings in our city that has been preserved rather well. But what of the amenities, Chief? Don’t you think these could do with some improvement?
It was just the other day that MMM went to attend a play at the place. Having driven up to the gate he was informed by a watchman that he ought to proceed to the right and park. When asked if there was a specific place to park in, the man simply waved in a wide sweeping manner, thereby indicating that MMM could park anywhere in the vast and, may MMM add, rather ill-kept compound. MMM duly drove right and found that there was really no earmarked parking space and he could do so anywhere. He selected a suitable spot located between two trees and, more importantly, rather close to the gates. This was in case the play was a complete frost and MMM had to make a quick getaway. Too often in places like this where parking spaces are not demarcated clearly, you cannot leave until the end of the programme. Cars are bound to block your way.
There was no fear of this here for the driveway was just a few inches from MMM’s car and so nobody could really block MMM in case he decided to do a bolt. It was only after MMM had switched off the headlights that he realised that there were no lampposts to guide MMM from car to theatre. Or, to be precise, no working lamppost. MMM had to get down and literally grope his way to the theatre. True, the lights from the building did guide MMM, but they did not allow him to detect soft soil at various spots in the garden. In some places, the mud, together with fallen leaves, had formed a rather rich oatmeal like substance and that clung to MMM’s shoes like glue. It was thus that MMM staggered on and reached the theatre proper.
He was ushered in and only then did it strike him that the steps here are rather steep. And, so, MMM was doubly careful. As he walked towards his seat he did notice that in some places there was a sharp drop of at least six inches between the chairs and the aisle. A wrongly placed foot could turn you into a somersault specialist in case you did not watch out which you Chief, had not, and twisted ankle after taking a tumble.
MMM had barely seated himself when he realised that in all the struggle to get in and find his seat he had not bothered to use the toilet. There being a few minutes before the curtain rose, MMM decided to go and relieve himself. He made his way to the door and wandered around the curved corridor looking for signs that could direct him to the toilets. Having found none, MMM asked a man who was clearly on the Museum payroll and looked as though he had been around since its inauguration. He looked surprised that someone was actually asking for a toilet and then deigned to direct MMM. You had to go down the steps, take a right, cross the portico and then plunge into what looked like a place of eternal night and somewhere out there was a toilet. MMM wondered if it was really worth all the trouble. What if he slipped on some of the oatmeal and hurt himself? Nobody would notice till the morning and then it may be too late. MMM slunk back into the theatre.
The Man from Madras Musings happened to relate this experience to a friend who immediately replied that this was nothing compared to the travails people experience at the University Centenary Auditorium. MMM reflected on this and had to agree with his friend. The Museum Theatre at least has ample parking space. That is not something that the University campus can boast of.
And as for the auditorium, the less said the better. MMM is not sure if you have ever been there, but in case you have, you are sure to agree with him. There is, firstly, the seating, which is most peculiar – rows in three different axes with a distant stage. The arrangement makes sure you have a better view of what is happening in rows opposite you than of the stage itself. Then you have the seats which were clearly made for a different era. They have no idea about the requirement of modern posteriors and, rather like academics who are these days accused of inappropriate behaviour, rather prone to pinch you at odd spots. And when you get up to leave, they snap back like an irate University don asked a particularly silly question by a student. In case you don’t move away in time, a part of your rear can actually be retained by the seat and later no doubt used for building the ‘Varsity’s DNA bank.
The air-conditioning system here too is of a time period when cooling meant lots of attendants with handheld fans. Apparently, or so MMM understands, the original system designed for the hall no longer works and so they have several banks of airconditioners that are stationed at the rear of the halls. Those who are unfortunate to sit near these are bound to be frozen to death, also, given the noise these machines make can hardly hear any of the speeches that are delivered here. Of course, on the three occasions that MMM did attend an event at this auditorium, the speeches were so bad that he did consider the noisy ACs to be something of a blessing.
As for the toilets here, these too are of a sound vintage. But hardly anyone uses them. This is more because the Uni’s auditorium is invariably used only when some top-ranking VIP chooses to address lesser mortals. That means security and that in turn means the unfortunate audience has to be in place at least a few hours before the actual event. And once seated, nobody is allowed to get up until the VIP comes, speaks and leaves. Consequently, people are afraid of even getting up to answer calls of nature. This, of course, is sometimes a blessing for given the condition of the loos here, you may be better off not using them, or even getting to know them.
The Man from Madras Musings is aware that medicine is a science and, as is well known, Alfred Nobel thought so too. So too didthis pharmacy evidently, as can be seen from the picture below.