Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXVI No. 17, December 16-31, 2016

Short N Snappy

The Mother of all Memories

This is no time for levity, Chief, and you know that The Man from Madras Musings can be as serious as anyone else when the occasion demands it. And even when he smiles on such occasions as these, you can rest assured that he does so with a tear behind it. Our State is going through tough times, Chief, we having sadly lost a leader who chose to leave us much before her time.

MMM, as he said earlier, feels sad about what has come to pass. But he does feel that in all this pathos, there is now coming in a strong sense of bathos, what with every man, woman and child weighing in with a personal memory of the personality who has gone. MMM understands that this is but natural given that this was a person who had touched many lives. She inspired women, gave them a sense of safety, extolled children to study and when met up with in  person awed everyone with her erudition, quick grasp of facts and her decision. Of these memories and recollections, MMM has nothing to say beyond doffing his hat in respect.

But there is a different variety of raconteur, the kind that is now doing the rounds of the various newspaper and magazine offices, and of media houses, be they conventional, electronic or virtual, with stories that can at best be termed peripheral to the personality being mourned. All of these people were nowhere in the picture as long as the person in question was alive and in power. Now, rather in the manner of toadstools after a shower, they have begun to proliferate. They freely refer to the dear departed by the name which intimate friends and family knew her by in childhood and claim to have had all kinds of propinquity. Society matrons of a certain age appear to be the most deadly of the lot when it comes to this kind of writing. They suddenly recollect all kinds of chance encounters – at bookshops, at cinema shoots and at social events and claim to have been close. Media houses are lapping up these unverified tales. Worse is social media where no scrutiny of any kind is needed and so everyone is putting up stories of personal association with the lady.

The day of passing witnessed a few of these so-called close associates being interviewed by the electronic media. Almost all of them, to a man and woman, claimed that they had been ‘extremely close’ to the lady concerned, this despite the fact that she was almost Garboesque in her seclusion. One of them, a minor political non-entity at best, even claimed that it was only because of the former CM, she, the non-entity that is, could play a role in the politics of the country! Talk about delusions of grandeur!

You also have experts on her past who have now cropped up, the source of their information being the Internet. As is well known, the Internet has around 1000 versions of any happening and so we do have 1000 versions of the current topic of interest in circulation. Suddenly everyone knows everything, including the number of aunts she had, the number of films she acted in, the number of years she was in the wilderness, and the number of years she was in power. And in keeping with facts cribbed off the Internet, there is considerable variation in each of these stories! Variety, as MMM notes from these writings, is the spice of public life.

Season of ‘invites’

They are all over the place. The Man from Madras Musings alludes to concert invitations from what are known euphemistically in the world of Carnatic music as “young and upcoming artistes”, a term that  can include anyone from  anywhere between the ages of three and three ­hundred. In this field, as in politics, (and let MMM tell you that the two are quite tightly ­intertwined), you can be young for as long as you feel that way and, as for upcoming, you could be that forever. In fact this art, in MMM’s view, has taken on quite seriously that motto of ISO 9000 and other certifications – that quality is a journey and never an end. It is just that many of those who send invitations, in MMM’s view, remain at some middling level as far as quality is concerned and begin to think that sending invitations is the only way to attract crowds. They could not be more wrong. The time spent in preparing these invitations could have been better invested in some soul-searching, exploring ways and means to improve their art and coming up with winning performances.

And so, as MMM said earlier, invitations are coming in thick and fast. They are under the door, jammed in the letterbox and tumble out of e-mail accounts in such numbers that MMM keeps deleting them the way others swat mosquitoes with electronic bats at upmarket restaurants. Almost all these invitations have an identical format – some ClipArt from the Internet featuring roses, musical notes (chiefly Western classical) and a couple of palms pressed together in traditional Indian greeting. Then follow a few lines about how December is the season for music in our city and how our music is prayer in these Godless times. Thereafter comes the actual invitation stating that so and so is performing at such and such place(s) and would not be able to perform unless the recipient of the invitation put in an appearance. Reading it, you would imagine that you the recipient were the muse behind all that music.

But a diva’s invitation in recent times takes the cake. Not only does it have all the features listed above, but it also contains a longish passage about what the diva did during the last calendar year, where she went, what awards she got and how everywhere she went, she would have liked her ardent admirers to have tagged along rather in the manner of Mary’s little lamb whose fleece, if you recall, was white as snow and it went wherever Mary used to go. Reading it you would get the impression that the diva ran one of those tourist bus services by means of which it was a bagatelle for her to take her fans around the world in charabancs.

But a diva’s invitation in recent times takes the cake. Not only does it have all the features listed above, but it also contains a longish passage about what the diva did during the last calendar year, where she went, what awards she got and how everywhere she went, she would have liked her ardent admirers to have tagged along rather in the manner of Mary’s little lamb whose fleece, if you recall, was white as snow and it went wherever Mary used to go. Reading it you would get the impression that the diva ran one of those tourist bus services by means of which it was a bagatelle for her to take her fans around the world in charabancs.

Tailpiece

The Man from Madras Musings has of late been writing columns wherein all the three sections have just one common thread. The Chief for some reason has taken umbrage and told MMM to desist. And so MMM, whose motto is ‘Obey!’ has desisted. But then the Chief did not say that the first and last pieces could not be on the same topic and so MMM now cleverly bypasses, the Chief. He reverts to topic no 1 – namely the sad passing. True, it was a dark day for our city and everyone including MMM felt that way. Offices and establishments closed out of respect. So did the Corporation, in MMM’s view. For some reason, it chose to keep all street lights switched off, at least in MMM’s locality that night. Adding to the atmosphere.

-MMM

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