A few weeks had passed since Lady Flora had seen her friend and companion Firoz. She was worried, and decided to head towards his seat to check on him. The moonlit night gave him enough direction to see his silhouette from afar.
“Ah! There you are. For heaven’s sake, why aren’t you coming for our walk?” Lady Flora’s voice was shrill as she called out to her friend who was walking out of her old office. “Busy, busy times, Lady Flora. My sincere apologies,” he tried to explain his absence. But Lady Flora didn’t have any lame excuses.
“But Firoz you should have at least sent word through Percy, our (heritage) community pigeon messenger; There’s a reason why he’s on your payroll. So tell me what was the reason for this disappearance?” Sir PM settled down in a corner near this former office, took his breath away and decided to come clean.
“Well, you see, there were many reasons for this – work and leisure… wrong, I mean, research. So, as you may or may not have heard, the BMC recently released its budget for the city. done, and as always [he loved to emphasise that word], I was called to see the papers. Even after all these decades, my bosses feel confident when I sign things. Research, study of current needs, especially in light of the pandemic and its impact on our city – all these had to be closely studied and taken into account,” he elaborated.
“You have been busy, I believe you. I am happy to report that as a citizen of this great city, I am glad to see more allocations for health care. Better to be late.. . It took a mnemonic to shake things up apparently,” the last line was a sarcastically given jab, and his friend was audible enough to hear it. “But other than that, Firoz, why didn’t you put a little emphasis on our maintenance, you know more money for like us? Look around, apart from south Bombay, the rest of the city and ‘Barbarians, surely need help’ Friends and informants – the opposite of that clumsy Percy – have been sharing news of all kinds of shocking developments. From the neglect of important milestones to the demolition of major Art Deco buildings. Guidelines for keeping them safe and Fund allocation should have been mentioned. I mean, if you say that every paper was passed by you, then surely it would have slipped in,” she argued.
“I tried, lady… I really did. But there were other important areas that needed extra funding, so after all, when we did the math, the legacy didn’t get what it deserved,” sir. PM explained.
That’s when the idea came to him to take some steam from his relentless questioning to tell him about the ‘vacation’ part of his absence.
“Lady, I was also on a study trip. I wanted to see the temples of Belur, Halebidu and Somanathapura which were built by the Hoysala dynasty in Karnataka. Did you know that they are in India for UNESCO World Heritage Site status this year? Will there be official nominations of the U.S.? After hearing a lot about its architecture and craftsmanship, I wanted to visit these sites dating back to 12-13 AD. In any case, a trip with the missile was overdue. That too history Ki lover, and that’s why I killed two birds with one stone…” Sir PM was sure that this would free him from the Inquisition.
“Are you calling Ms. Mehta a bird?” Lady Flora teasing. “No, never. But you know what I mean. Trust me, those temples were magnificent. What splendid artistry and detail! I’ve heard a former prime minister also put his weight behind these sites so that To be sure they were India’s official nominations,” continued Sir PM. How was the maintenance in your eyes?” Lady Flora inquired. “I was surprised to see that it was immaculately clean, tidy and had great management with an influx of tourists. The best part – thanks to controlled business interests – was the small crowd, no crosses, or big budget five stars And not even the flashy souvenir shops that are always around most of the tourist attractions in India,” he shared.
“What a great! Now, why don’t you share this data from your ‘study trip’ with your former owners and babus, if they’re open to some constructive feedback, and from these sites to our UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Get inspired to help save Elephanta Caves? Given its historical importance, it needs to be in better shape. I heard some very disturbing anecdotes from tourists.” Lady Flora had a habit of dropping a sharp but relevant line when Sir PM was least expecting it. And, she was always right. After all, his heart was in the right place, and he always beat for his favorite city.
Mid-Day’s Features Editor Fiona Fernandez loves the sights, sounds, smells, and stones of the city… wherever the ink and the swagger takes it. He @bombayana. tweeted on
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