Admission Rs.30 !! Parking Rs.80!!!
Today I saw a movie in Assembly Rooms after nearly 30 years just to oblige a visiting nephew of mine. I was happy to note that the renovation had maintained the aura of the old and the movie was also good, though I couldn’t follow it with as much ease as my young nephew or others of his age who made up most of the audience.
But the snag was in parking. There is no information board regarding parking or parking fee for the ticket holders. I was asked to get into the narrow lane where old Royal Café was to park. There is no one to regulate the traffic. With great difficulty I found a parking place in between rows of tourist vehicles. There was no board or no one tell me if there was a fee for parking or how much it was.
After the movie as I was taking the car out a bunch of urchins surrounded the vehicle with ticket books. ‘Pay Rs.80’, said one. ‘It’s ok he is a local, pay only Rs30’, said another.
When I asked to see where the parking information board was and insisted on getting a receipt for Rs.30, the urchins had a field day. They said the local’s concession is off , pay Rs. 80 or you cannot take your vehicle out. Another interjected, “We have paid Rs.25 lakhs for the auction to take the parking. In the three hours your car was parked we could have earned three times the amount from tourists. So you better pay Rs.80.”
Assembly Rooms is a charity bequeathed by the Willingdons and run as a unique trust with no less than the Governor of Tamil Nadu as the head. Is it legally or ethically right to auction rights of parking on a commercial basis? Why can’t the management appoint one or two staff to collect parking fees which can fully go to the betterment of Assembly Rooms. The cine goers are entitled to certain rights and decency for the money they pay for the tickets. At least, a portion of the parking lot could be earmarked for them. I have lived in Chennai for 42 years. I have never come across such an embarrassing experience in any theater. Who are these street urchins to give us a concession?
How does one justify a maximum admission charge of Rs.30 and a parking charge of Rs.80?
Inside the hall, I saw a list of well known names embedded in gold who are in charge of managing the Assembly Rooms. I wonder if anyone will care to look in into this grievance.
Locals will recall the racket and ruckus that followed when entrance fee to the Gardens was initially auctioned. Why repeat the same mistake with Assembly Rooms?
Fleecing the locals is as much a sin as fleecing the tourist.