Monday, June 23, 2014
Time marches on. Once upon a time, this corner building was the place to be seen at. For about 20 years, Hotel d'Angelis was the leading hotel in the city, boasting of running hot water (no, not the type where a boy runs with a bucket), electric fans, cold storage - all of it in the initial years of the 20th century. He also made sure that he pulled out all stops for his guests. Those coming in to Madras by ship or rail could make arrangements to have the 'hotel shuttle' meet them as they disembarked. That motor-bus could also be hired to take them around the city.
Giacomo d'Angelis, the founder of this hotel, took a very active interest in running it. Despite having a manager ("an expert European manager") to run the hotel, the proprietor personally guaranteed that every need of their guests would be attended to. Such was the reputation they built - and maybe it was also the way the staff had been trained - that even after d'Angelis sold the hotel to Bosotto in 1930, it continued to be the go-to place. When the MCC team under Douglas Jardine visited India for a 3-test series in 1934, they bivouacked at the Hotel d'Angelis - and by all accounts, they had a rocking good time.
Somehow, the hotel did not continue to keep up with the times. For longer than I can remember, the big signboard on this building had been that of Bata. Recently, that has been removed. Talk is that the building has been marked for demolition. With that, one more reminder of the Madras will disappear. Hopefully, whatever replaces it will preserve the memory of this corner and the Madras that was!