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Vol. XXX No. 9, September 1-15, 2020
As the city celebrated Madras Week this month, the results of the Swachh Survekshan survey – an initiative under Swachh Bharat to monitor cleanliness in different cities and towns in India – were released as well. It seems to be a mixed bag for Chennai. While our city has jumped up the rankings from the 61st place last year to the 45th this year, it also achieved the dubious distinction of being tagged the third dirtiest city in the category of those with a population of more than 1 million, behind Patna and East Delhi. The city authorities are reportedly unhappy with the results, expressing dissatisfaction over the metrics used to measure a city’s sanitation and hygiene levels. With a daily garbage collection amounting to 5,400 metric tons, the Greater Chennai Corporation website specifies the various measures it has taken to improve sanitation in the city, including the implementation of door-to-door collection of municipal solid waste in all zones. Further, the authorities are also reportedly taking steps to educate households about the need to segregate household waste as well. GCC’s work has actually received positive attention in recent years, with reports that the city has managed to considerably reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. So, it is understandable that the survey results are a bit of an unpleasant surprise.
For some time to come, Corona will not yield place to any other subject in social conversations and for publication in print and electronic media. Media people have a tough job, every day, and every hour, finding subjects that pass the tests of relevance and audience interest. The Chinese intrusion and Bollywood mysteries provide some relief from this singular obsession but may not last long. We indulge in a wishful speculation, with no pretensions to special expertise, on the likely longer-term impact of Corona.
Ye Gods, when will this year end was the question most often on the lips of The Man from Madras Musings until he read that the current pandemic is all set to extend well into the next year. And so, MMM has recalibrated and would like to know when 2021 will end as well. In the meanwhile, it is best to think happy thoughts, spread cheer and above all stay away from news updates regarding the virus and also shun pronouncements from the WHO (Woebegone Health Organisation). There is one man from there with a perpetually pained expression and a long name comprising four separate words that MMM particularly avoids. He (of that name 1 name 2 name 3 name 4 fame) makes the most negative statements.
In the meanwhile, MMM is rather fatigued at this point, what with his having had more than his share of Zoom meetings for Madras Week. MM was not part of the festivities, the old magazine having rather sensibly taken the stance that it would prefer to wait for better times, after all Chennai and Madras Musings are not going anywhere and will be around for better Madras Weeks to come. But that did not prevent some from sending private messages to MMM stating that they understood but were deeply disappointed, whatever that means.
Master of Express Estates
I read with great interest the article Master of Express Estates. As a sub-editor working with him from Nov. 1988 till end-1995, my image of him was more of a respected elder (he should have been well into his seventies then) than a journalist. Though he was seated behind a huge desk in an executive chair in the editorial room (I believe it was Mr. Ramnath Goenka’s in the early days), he was not part of the daily general desk routine.
The Theatre Just Off Mount Road
Wellington Cinema! The very name conjures up a different era, of cinema’s early days and heydays. One of the older movie theatres of the city, it was also one of the first to fall victim to the wrecker’s hammer. A commercial complex of multiple colours and unsurpassed ugliness stands in its place now, bearing the name Wellington Plaza.