11 MAY 1929, Page 12



fro the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

SIR,—On the day when 1,001 more or less illustrious ones filed past His Excellency the Governor and Viscountess Goschen at their annual reception, the Madras cold weather season really began. The reception showed us many new and beautiful faces, whose owners have come to this delightful city to share with the permanent inhabitants its brief season of gaiety, as also many beautiful dresses, proving that family exchequers are not quite so low as during the prolonged depression that followed the brief post-War boom. There were dresses of all kinds. Some very short and some, to modern eyes, very long, some full like those of a mid-Victorian belle, some as skimpy as those of a Paris midinette.

Our back-veranda astrologists foreshadowed a long cool season with abundant showers to keep our gardens looking fresh. The showers we have had were specially welcome, for Madras is proud of her gardens, strange though that may seem to those whose imaginative picture of Madras is built on tales of desert and jungle. Our annual garden competitions produce remarkable evidence of the floral beauty possible in a tropical city when to horticultural knowledge is joined a sense of colour and an eye to beauty. Nowhere are these things more happily combined than at our race-course. There one finds the most delightful gardens serving as a foil to the inevitable ugliness of Grand and other stands, the " Tote " and the lesser adjuncts of a modern race-course.

Looking at a picture of the old Madras race-course, taken fifteen years ago, it is difficult to believe that the magnifi- cent course of to-day, with its palatial buildings for spectators, the Tote, horses, jockeys, &c., has grown out of such humble beginnings. Then a one-storied shack on a mound served as a Grand Stand, and bookies stood at the corner of the fence. We have travelled far since those days, and in quality of sport and value of prizes are now leagues ahead. Yet our Race Club has not abandoned the old objectives. The Club still strives to promote local ownership, and its Griffin scheme has inabled many with small purses to become possessors of horses of quality at bargain priea. Our joy does not begin and end with racing. The Gymkhana Club has opened a new annexe with a spacious veranda and a wonderful spring dancing floor, the best in India, it is claimed. This innovation is deservedly popular, and, now that the Volunteer Band is supplemented by a good string band, dancing at the " Gym " has become one of the things to " do," a bbOn to hostases. The Adyiir Club is aware of the-challenge involved -in the beautification of its rival, so has decorated

its buildings anew, giving to its dance rooms a night-blue ceiling dotted with stars, so that dancers who can spare no time to gaze on the loveliness of the starlit skies from the Club's delightful terrace may now have an inkling of the beauty they are missing while trailing round in the Yale or Other " blues."

Lest, however, this letter give the impression that Madras in the cold weather thinks only of its pleasures, let us hasten to add that many of its social activities have a philanthropic objective. Not long ago Madras submitted cheerfully to being well bled by the Guild of Service at a local version of the Kit Kat Club, opened for one evening only, with all the gaiety and the high prices of its more 'famous namesake. And scarcely a week passes without some similar appeal to the generous to come and be plundered in the name of charity. The Christmas collections to provide some form of good cheer for the helpless and indigent on Christmas Day exceeded all previous records in amount, and consequently, in the number benefited. In these good works Toe II and the Guild of Service play a large part. For a young body Toe H does a surprising amount of good work here, and has succeeded in introducing a feeling of good fellowship into social endeavour that is both welcome and novel. H.E. Viscount Goschen has been a warm and active patron of the movement and recently presented a Lamp to the local branch in memory of his son Lieutenant George Goschen. The ceremony of dedication at St. Mary's Church Fort St. George, the oldest Protestant Church in India was most impressive in its solemnity and simplicity. Toe H, like many another philanthropic institution, will lose a good friend in His Excellency when he leaves this Presidency a few weeks hence to take up the more onerous duties of Viceroy.

After languishing almost unto death at the end of the last cool season the Musical Association has taken a new lease of life and recently it .gave us one of the best orchestral concerts Madras has enjoyed for many a year. The omens for its continued success are auspicious, but one never knows ; interest has a way of flagging sadly before the next seasoni The Dramatic Society is busy rehearsing " Quinney's," and with a good player in the name part should produce a pleasing entertainment. The more serious side of our activities is represented by the approaching meeting of the. Science Congress. Madras may fairly claim, therefore, that she is many-sided, pulling her weight in most of the usual activities of a capital city. Cholera may be rampant, her death rate phenomenally high, and penury prevent the City Council from carrying out much needed improvements. But Madrafi carries on. The quick take up the work where the dead drop it.—I am, Sir, &c., YOUR CORRESPONDENT IN MADRAS.