I am not too much of a historian. Nor am I a social scientist or someone with a degree in demographic and social studies. But I do take the credit for having a cosmopolitan view by virtue of having spent most of my younger days in south India despite being from far reaches of the young fold Himalayas.
Kerala has been a place with tremendous ironies for me. While I admire the cavernous houses for their spaciousness, the unique greenery of this state that evinces awe and envy to an outsider, I am also put off by the overly irascible demeanour of the shopkeepers here. I have been to several small restaurants and found them to be very neat and clean. The tinted glass doors and the stainless steel paraphernalia of the kitchen are as inviting as poker faced waiters are uninviting. It however is, in many way, a welcome change from what we are treated in most parts of the rest of the country. It is this fact that has forced me to write about the piteous state of the Sreedhar theatre in Cochin.
Cochin is the biggest city of Kerala and poised to become a tier II IT hub in the near future. Real estate prices are sky rocketing to dizzying heights as is the urban landscape of this city with high rises along the Cochin channel. This scenario makes the absence of a multiplex that much more pronounced. I wonder where all the keralites go to entertain themselves. While it is not unusual to see the higher end luxury cars frequent the roads of this city I am often forced to mull over the supposed destinations these belles attired in gracious sequins.
Now with out digressing any further, I would like to stake my claim for the crux of the matter here. I was out the other day to see a movie at the famous Sreedhar theatre which is situated at a prime location of the city next to the famous GCDA complex. While getting a ticket was not too difficult, the random way of allotting seats in the theatre did surprise me to no end. I found a couple of the couples in fact lying to people about the seats next to them saying that their friends were expected which in fact never happened till the end. I have watched movies in much smaller towns and much less civilized areas but never have I come across such organised chaos as was being displayed at what is arguably Cochin’s best theatre. Well, the worst was yet to come.
As the movie interrupted for a godsend break and I found my way to the toilet to relieve myself, it turned out my date with a horror of a bathroom. The stench welcomed me over twenty yards away and as I went closer the urge to pee seemed to subside in the fetid milieu. It truly was a toilet that should make any well meaning malyali put his head down in shame. If there was a foreigner in the theatre that day, I would have turned red with embarrassment. I am sure this in not the kind of toilets that we would like to see in the ‘God’s own land’. The kind of people who visit this theatre often drive in Pajeros and Skodas to the tiny parking space that exists outside it. A look around the ticketing area and you would spot at least a dozen millionaires. The people who come often come sporting ‘Police’ glasses and attired in luxury brands. And this is what they put up with.
How much does it cost to build good toilet in the land where the numbers of cars on road exceeds the number of two wheelers? Would it mean an increase in ticket prices by five rupees? So be it. Show me the toilet of the house I want to rent and I will know how the rest of the house is likely to look.
I am terribly disappointed with the governance of the Sreedhar theatre and the average Cochin Movie goer. I wish communism meant more the just strikes and bandhs. I have known malyalis for their pride and self respect. This toilet seems to tell me the other side of the story.
PS: I have steered clear of other topics such as Crowd behaviour in the theatre