Monkey business

I saw Gandhi’s three monkeys yesterday – seeing, hearing and speaking no evil, but doing much mischief on one of the little terraces at the back of the British Council building in Delhi.  Over the summer, one of them turned on a tap outside, and flooded part of our library.  Tricky customers to get rid of, these monkeys – we can’t use our faithful langoor any more to chase them off, and they are fearless and shameless.  They have no regard for the expressive lines of Charles Correa’s architecture or the instantly recognisable shadows of Howard Hodgkin’s tree mural in the façade of our building.  They care little for knowledge or libraries, even though we have both “Fearless” and “Shameless” in the British Council catalogue.  We care, however – and we care for our building.  It needs some work, and this month we’ve started.  We are going to make it a better building for all the things we do with you – English teaching, the arts, examinations, and education.

Right now, I can hear hammers being wielded in distant parts of the building.  It reminds me that like all such projects, this is going to be noisy, dusty, challenging; but at the end of it we’ll have a great space to share with you.  There will be new classrooms, a new ground floor café and exhibition space, and a new library.  We will improve the way we meet and talk with you, by upgrading our customer service.  All of this is part of a wider enhancement of the way we work in India – offering more English teaching and examinations, reaching more people by doing more online, working from better premises and offering more opportunities for education and cultural exchange.

We are not going to issue bland notices about “any inconvenience that may be caused”; you rightly expect more honesty and directness than that from the British Council, so I can guarantee that, unfortunately, there will be inconvenience caused by this project.  We apologise for this.  But we can also guarantee that at the end, we will have a great space and great facilities to offer you.

We will probably still have the monkeys, but we’ve put locks on the taps.

Post by: Paul Clementson, Assistant Director Operations, British Council


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