Who painted the Schmidt Memorial?
It felt good to get up early after such a long time. Reminded me of my days last year when i used to go to the marina at dawn to play ultimate. I was at the Chola Sheraton bus stop at 0530 not sure weather buses operate this early on a Sunday. The MTC didnt disappoint, and i was at Elliots beach in 20 minutes, just in time for the sunrise.
I went straight to the memorial hoping to find some ultra enthu people with paint all over their clothes, but the only human was sprawled on the broken steps of the memorial, wearing a green lungi that revealed much more than his hairy legs. As i went round to the side facing the sea, i could clearly make out the partial paint job that had been done the week before.
With no sign of the painters, i decided to catch up with the CUF guys and was discussing the upcoming international level frisbee tournament that the CUF kingpin Manu planned to have in Chennai. Also got a chance to bump into Vatsan, fellow Madras enthusiast and local rowdy. The match was a good pass time while i waited for someone to show up at the memorial. It was 7 30 and just when i started having my doubts about the whole painting thing, i notice a couple of guys making their way across the sand carrying buckets and a ladder. I catch up with them and meet Siddarth and Vijayan, Siddarth being the guy behind the whole idea.
Not wanting to waste any time, all three of us immediately get to work with the paint. We brush off and wash the existing graffiti with water before painting over them. All this while me and sid talk about the problems facing the monument and solutions for fixing it.
The memorial has been vandalised almost entirely by “x loves y” messages and etchings, badly damaging the monument. Sustained peeing on the foundation has also made the sand highly enriched in minerals as well as noxious odours and the base has cracked at several locations. And the silica in the sand here is broken bits of alcohol bottles making it as dangerous as a minefield. But nothing was enough to stop three people determined to make a little change in the city’s appearance.
We finally ran out of paint.
Siddarth admits to having having his first bottle of beer over here. I remember peeing on this very same structure two years ago. We had redeemed our guilt, its was time we became part of the solution than the problem, and make sure that others dont commit the same mistake. Can ordinary citizens really make a difference? We are going there again next week to show that we can if we really want to.