The round table
Photo: S. Thanthoni
‘CONFERENCE VENUE’ Great place for a group chat
Government College of Fine Arts
The Hangout: The round table
Rush Hour: Early mornings and late afternoons (before and after classes, basically).
Where it’s at: At the back of the campus, opposite the cluster of bamboo trees, in the midst of a small student-planted garden.
What’s to love: Few hangouts have as much personality as this one. The little spot has it all — unusual natural elements, an interesting back story and distinctive artistic flourishes put in by current and past students. Take the lone island of tall bamboo trees on one side, for example – where the heck did it come from?
“You won’t find bamboo anywhere else on the grounds,” says Bharani. “The story is that back in Rai Choudhary’s time (the 1920s), this area was completely covered in bamboo trees. But then it was cleared, and only this spot was left as a memory.”
A few years ago, a low, broad wall was built around the bamboo cluster to protect it, which had the unintended side-effect of adding to the utility of the spot as a hangout. “It makes it very easy to sit and chat,” he grins.
But nothing beats the ‘round table’ itself as far as seating is concerned. Created by a senior of the college, it’s a circular concrete sculpture with five posts of varying heights.
“It’s the only place on campus where you can sit facing each other as a group,” says Bhaskaran. Which is why, of course, it’s the favourite ‘conference’ spot for students and ex-students alike.
“Plus, you can sit any way you want,” says Solayaraj, demonstrating how the posts can function interchangeably as seats and/or footstools, and how you can even sit between them if you want a change of scene. Now that’s versatile seating.
Around the round table are pretty shrubs planted by the students, as well as a circle of small, graceful old sculptures giving the spot a whimsical quality. “These sculptures were scattered all over the campus, left behind by old students, so we collected them and arranged them all here,” says Venkatesh.
Even the water tap nestled in the shrubs is artistically rustic, with its concrete outer covering built by the students to hold the shaking pipe in place. “We just do the smaller fix-it jobs ourselves,” he grins.
So you have the flexible seating, the water to cool off in summer, what else? Shade and a good view, of course. “There’s so much tree cover here, you can’t even see the sun,” quips Solayaraj.
“And since it’s on the way to most classes, you can see everyone coming and going,” adds Bhaskaran. Perfect.
What’s not to:
Or not. “Unfortunately, everyone can also see you,” says Solayaraj ruefully. He points past one of the shady trees to one of the classrooms, “See? You can see that professor peering at us all right now.” Hmmm. Point taken.
The open stage where almost all college meetings take place, and the so-called Gayatri maram, a concrete slab between two trees right near the entrance.
Send this article to Friends by