Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVII No. 18, January 1-15, 2018
Despite having the reputation of having been to all nooks and crannies of our city, The Man from Madras Musings, who was once famously introduced as a streetwalker of the city, had somehow never been to the famed auditorium named after the Congress stalwart and Chief Minister who put our State on the industrial map of India. The opportunity never arose and MMM, while passing by the place on numerous occasions, had often wondered as to how it looked inside.
Last week, during the thick of the Music Season, MMM was invited to participate in an event connected with the release of a book on how Celtic Music had influenced its South Indian classical equivalent. This was held in the venue named after ye olde Chief Minister. MMM was asked by the host, the proud father of the two children who had written the book, to come straight to the green room. It was only on reaching the place that MMM discovered that this space was quite some distance inside the building. A volunteer met MMM at the gate and said he had been deputed to take MMM to the green room. He then asked MMM if he, MMM, knew where the green room was. When MMM replied in the negative, this man was nonplussed. He muttered something under his breath as to how MMM, who claimed to forever be associated with the arts, did not know a simple matter like that. Then having guessed that MMM’s hearing, unlike his vision, was quite acute, became all smiles and said apologetically that he, the volunteer, too did not know where the green room was. However a couple of phone calls peppered with colourful language set him on the right direction and he bade MMM to follow.
Rather in the manner of Morgiana in Ali Baba leading the cobbler, the volunteer led MMM through a labyrinth of sorts, all dimly lit. In a way this was all to the good, for MMM could only dimly make out the condition of these spaces. Cobwebs hung low, as if from a horror movie set, the walls felt damp and in many places had water seeping through rather in the manner of a mine shaft and as for the floor, it was littered with props and objects of all kinds. Through all this the volunteer led MMM relentlessly on and eventually fetched up in the green room.
Inside were a set of other invitees, all of them with a resigned air that suggested that they had been around since time began. When MMM entered they all looked up with hope as if expecting a rescue party and when they realised it was only MMM they all went back to staring at the ceiling. The only animated personality was a photographer who relentlessly had every one of the invitees pose for pictures against a blank white wall rather in the manner of a firing squad positioning a sentenced person. And when this was done, he had the invitees grouped in pairs, triads and pentads.
Having waited for more than an hour, MMM decided to explore the rest of the auditorium and found it to be in a shocking state. He was eventually summoned to appear on stage and when he did, he found that the chairs were rickety and wobbled even as MMM and other guests positioned themselves. The event, badly organised, in keeping with the rest of the hall, was mercifully brief and MMM came away clutching a shawl, a bouquet and a couple of books that later proved to be full of howlers.
MMM was supposed to speak for a few minutes and was dreading the prospect, what with the venue and the audience proving most uninspiring. It was just as MMM was bracing himself for a summons to the mike that the host came huffing and puffing to MMM and whispered into MMM’s ear that the event was considerably behind time and so could MMM please truncate his speech. MMM asked in response as to how much ought to be cut. All of it was the reply, accompanied by a pleading look. MMM agreed wholeheartedly, reflecting internally that this was the only plus point in the whole miserable afternoon.
It was only as he left the stage that he realised that he had no idea as to how to make his way to the exit. He fumbled about for quite a while before what appeared to be a genie out of Alladin finally rescued him and helped him leave. Overall, it was an unforgettable experience that MMM hopes he will not have occasion to repeat.
The rains came and terrorised everyone in the city. The prayers of the majority bore fruit and the monsoons left after giving us only a portion of their promised bounty. For people like The Man from Madras Musings who rejoice in the rain, this was a disappointment. And now Chennai has settled down to its winter, which is around one week of mild weather followed by a couple of months of a reasonable climate.
But the average Chennai-ite, or so MMM realises, takes his cold weather seriously. How else do you explain this proliferation of monkey caps, mufflers, shawls and, above all, earmuffs inspired by wildlife? All of these and more the average Chennai-ite has taken to sporting and MMM will not be surprised if many wear thick woolly underclothing or flannel. It may not be long before houses in Chennai have a fireplace or two.
The weather may not be cold, but most of Chennai appears to have caught the affliction that goes by the same name. All around the city you hear nothing but sniffles, coughs and sneezes. And when you are in a music concert, you hear all of these around you, in addition to the main musician who, too, invariably has a sore throat owing to over-exposure and strain, what with having to sing multiple concerts in the season.
The Chennai-ite is also proud of his winter. Try making fun of it by stating that it is nothing but mild weather and he springs to its defence. The temperature, says the affronted Chennai-ite, dipped to 24 degrees Celsius or some such freezing point and if that is not winter, the Chennai-ite would like to know what can be called cold weather. Moreover, they say by way of additional proof, the air conditioner had to be switched off. Is that even remotely possible in Chennai? And so, MMM concludes, we are heading for a winter of discontent.
The season of good cheer is here and The Man from Madras Musings, together with his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, wishes you all a great 2018. Last year had ample scope for humour and satire and something tells MMM that the new year will not be any different.