Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXV No. 10, September 1-15, 2015
And so, local boy Handsome Charity has made it big. The Man from Madras Musings waited to see how long it would take for local worthies to claim some form of kinship or the other. And MMM was amply rewarded, with several people telling him, in complete confidence, of course (you know, my dear MMM, how I hate publicity of any kind), that they had a cousin’s brother-in-law who knew of someone who regularly bumped into someone else who frequented the water-cooler just when Handsome Charity also did. Even the local political hopeful who goes by the nickname of a junior army officer joined the bandwagon. He gave a statement to the effect that it was every Chennai person’s duty to congratulate Handsome Charity. Only he got the name wrong, as is his wont. He kept referring to Handsome Victory. But MMM supposes that it is just as well. Had Handsome remained just Charity without this Victory, our city would not have noticed. But MMM wishes the man well and hopes to soon know someone who knows someone else who in turn has some nodding acquaintance with Handsome Charity’s charlady.
There are other aspects as well. MMM has it from reliable sources that sabhas of Chennai are contemplating whether they could get Handsome Charity to come down and inaugurate their December music festivals and also loosen the purse strings of his company in their favour. But more importantly, MMM also understands, his elevation has resulted in a feverish search for old records in several schools of the city. The chain of institutions run by a powerful matriarch was the front-runner in the claims made. But this was soon shot to the ground, for it appears that our Handsome Charity changed schools somewhat and the final honours went to First Prime Minister School at Violent Emperor turned Buddhist Nagar, and a Government run school inside the IIT campus with a forest deity kind of a name.
This was however not before an editing battle broke out on the internet for changing Handsome Charity’s public profile. This entry, which had remained unnoticed for months, suddenly began to undergo changes every minute, with several schools getting onto the site to make an inclusion in their favour. At one stage, it almost appeared as though Handsome Charity had shifted institutions every day of his student life. Matters came to such a head that the administrators of the site had to lock the page to save it from further mutation. It would appear that the truth came out late in the evening and the two schools named above survived to tell the tale.
What MMM now expects is a series of disclosures – ‘how I gave Handsome Charity five of the best with a cane for not turning up in the right shoes’ – may not surface as Handsome is now so exalted that many would want his Charity. But there will be others – the ones who taught him Maths, the one that held his bicycle as he first wobbled on it, the ayah who… (but let us not get into that) and the uncle who told him that a new world awaited on the other side and our country has gone to the dogs anyway. Mind you, MMM is not complaining. It is a time to celebrate and so let them all come forth. It is just that nobody claimed kinship or acquaintance with Handsome Charity or Truth What’s his name or our girl who is the boss of the cold drink company till they became head honchos.
The State Visit
Those who follow the writings of The Man from Madras Musings know that he lives in a neighbourhood that is not out of the ordinary for Chennai – you get the picture – encroached sidewalks, overflowing garbage, mixed zoning, noise pollution, haphazard parking, potholed roads and an indifferent administration. But MMM awoke one recent night rather in the manner of Abou Ben Adhem to find not one angel but several at work. The garbage tip fronting MMM’s neighbour’s house and which they had unsuccessfully been trying for decades to shift to front chez MMM had vanished. The haphazardly parked vehicles which no Corporation official or policeman could shift, even when the road was being tarred, resulting in a patchwork design, had all been moved. The footpath was cleared of the drunk, the destitute and the delinquent (the 3Ds) and its loose stones had been fixed. The road had been tarred overnight and, what’s more, had a median marked in white paint. The borders were all covered with floral patterns made with some white powder. A police patrol vehicle, hitherto gathering dust in front of MMM’s home, was going to and fro, siren blaring with an officer on a megaphone shouting at people to behave.
It was almost as though MMM had reached wonderland. Enquiries revealed that a road renaming ceremony was to take place further south and the road on which MMM lived was en route to it. The accumulated work of centuries was done in minutes. Even Metrowater, which had long ceased giving MMM his daily supply, delivered bountifully. In short, the lark was on the wing, the snail on the thorn, God in his heaven and all was right with the world.
Came afternoon, and a convoy whizzed past, scarcely noticing the welcoming hoardings and banners, all put up in commemoration of the State Visit. And that was that. The parked vehicles came back, and so did the 3Ds. The State-run bar further north opened for business and the rubbish came back with it. The wedding hall a little abaft began playing raucous music and, rather in the manner of a mythical film, the garbage tip waddled back and settled with a contented sigh in front of MMM’s neighbour’s house. By nightfall, the banners had all been removed, but the footpath had become the worse for wear, the affixing of wooden poles having loosened its stones even further. Metrowater, which had been available on tap, was turned off at the main. Even the white markings for the median appeared somewhat faded. It was almost as though nothing had happened in the interim.
What beats MMM is the alacrity with which officialdom moves when it has to and the lethargy with which it exists for the rest of the time. If only they could be as energetic for the sake of us common folk.
The Chief’s sidekicks have all been busy organising heritage walks, talks and what have you. The chief factotum among these did a tour of Fort St George. The night before, a lady who has long been resident of this, our city, called The Man from Madras Musings. She had booked for the tour, she said, but could MMM advise her on where Fort St George was. So much for heritage awareness!