Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Darryl D'Monte, Shyam Chainani, Neera Adarkar and Vikas Dilawari talk on conservation

It was a pleasure listening to Darryl D'Monte, a hero of my childhood, who moderated a session on heritage conservation. (He edited the Sunday Review when I was a teenager and every Sunday I would look forward to this very, very intellectual and cerebral newspaper supplement. He is to me an icon of those days of idealism, courage of convictions and fearless journalism.)

He still is intellectual and commited, and calls himself an environmental journalist, though I would classify him as much more than that. He recalled somebody calling Bombay "a very interesting but exasperating city," which it is. Pointing out that not only dilapidated office buildings are heritage, he said the mill buildings are part of heritage, though it is not treated as such. What a pity.

Also part of the panel was fearless crusader Shyam Chainani who said ascerbically that the fight for the mill lands was fought half-heartedly and that they deserved to lose. Chainani is the founder of Bombay Environmental Action Group which has won many an environmental battle for Bombayites. His book "In Defense of Heritage - A Bombay Diary" is expected soon, and I would love to lay my hands on it. No, not much of a heritage person, but if Chainani writes with as much wit as he speaks, then it would be worth it.

Chainani said that in these times of globalization ("globalization is rubbish") we should learn from cities like London where 25 per cent of the buildings are heritage and cannot be touched. At one point he vent his ire at a greedy businessperson and quite succintly said, "expletive deleted," to describe that person. haha (this is my version of canned laughter!).

Many more witty sayings followed, "I refuse to manufacture anecdotes," was one, obviously referring to writers' predilection towards making up anecdotes in their books. Oh, God, this man is inimitable. Hope his book sells.

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