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

Vol. XXVII No. 20, February 1-15, 2018

Short ‘N’ Snappy

Chennai shut down long before the US did

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The newspapers recently were all about how the US Government shut down because of some stand-off between the Republicans and the Democrats. The President of the US tweeted that things were not so good and that set the alarm bells ringing. Over the weekend, Government services did shut down, but they do every weekend anyway. And then, on Monday, everyone kissed and made up. Republican slapped Democrat on the back, Democrats shook Republican hands, the President congratulated himself and all was well with the world.

Now what is this preamble in aid of, you may wonder. Has the Man from Madras Musings migrated to Minnesota/Milwaukee/Madison you may ask? The answer is ‘no’, much as some of MMM’s detractors would wish it. But what interested MMM about this shutdown was a detailed analysis that one of the newspapers offered on what exactly shut down when the shut down was in progress. And that gave MMM some points to ponder over what would happen if Chennai faced a similar shutdown.

All parks, public monuments and museums ceasing to function was concern Number One of a particular newspaper. MMM wondered as to what was so great about that. Have you ever been to any park in the city where there is any Government functionary? True, there is a watchman, but he in invariably of a venerable age and sheltering under a tree. There is no other person of official capacity in sight. As for public monuments, the only protection that is offered them is a board that declares that the place is under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India and that trespassers and vandals will be prosecuted. Coming to museums, given their general level of upkeep, MMM is all for their closure. He has also not been able to fathom as to what difference the presence of an official or two makes to these places. Those on the premises know nothing about what is on display and consider all visitors as intrusions on their meditation/yogic slumber.

Garbage clearance ceasing to happen was the next big concern. MMM smiled at this. Given that Chennai has long ceased to worry about such a problem, it really had no issue with it. Rubbish at present is being handled by natural processes in our metro – the wind distributes it, rainwater carries it down pipes, and the sun scorches whatever it can. Animals forage and eat up considerable quantities of it. As for non-biodegradable waste, since there is really no way of getting rid of it, we have opted to accumulate it. So what is the panic really all about?

Building plans and approvals were getting delayed – this was the next on the list. Given that MMM has recently been through this experience, he is fully aware of how efficiently this process is managed. You can consider yourself lucky if your construction’s approvals comes within six months and with not much of depletion of your bank account. And if you are worried that during a shutdown you may not get any approval at all, let MMM assure you that there are several who are in exactly that state of limbo even now.

There were a couple of other aspects – land use plans and healthcare issues, all of which are similarly unlikely to make any impact on the lives of people in Chennai if there was really a shutdown. And so we need not worry about it at all. Perhaps we are already in the middle of a shutdown and never realised it. Way to go, Chennai! As the Chief said, the world has learnt much and has much to learn from us.

An actress’ biography

And so the dream girl from Madras who made it big in Bombay once upon a time wrote her life story. Or, rather, co-authored it with someone. And the duo made it to the Literary Fest that happens each year in our city in January. Now The Man from Madras Musings has never been a great fan of this personality, who is currently a lawmaker representing a constituency in the cow belt, but he nevertheless decided to attend the session, chiefly because he was slated to go on stage after her.

The session ran on predictable lines – the co-author was an unabashed fan and so gushed and gushed. Her Majesty lapped it all up. The session itself had been rehearsed several times evidently, for the conversation was so perfect that it appeared to be based on a script like the many that the lady would have followed in the past.

But there is one aspect that cannot be stage-managed and that is the question-answer session. When that came around, the actress had to fend for herself. She did quite well until the microphone went into the hand of a man who then looked upon it as a personal possession and did not part with it. The conversation then went like this:

Questioner: “Madam, I am great fan of yours.”

Actress: “Thank you.”

Q: “My mother bought the water purifier that you endorsed in a TV commercial.”

A: (beaming): “Thank you.” (outside of her films she evidently has a limited vocabulary).

Q: “But of late the after-sales service is really bad. Can you do something about it.”

A (beaming a lot less and turning icy for which she was justly famous at one time): “I will inform the managing director of the company. Thank you.”

Q: ” Madam, I am on the look out for a good cooking range. Can you recommend one?”

At this point of time, what with MMM’s session being next, a smart volunteer prised the microphone from the questioner’s hand and saved the actress from apoplexy.

Tailpiece

The Man from Madras Musings is aware that Tamil the language, of which, let him assure readers , he is extremely familiar with, be it reading, writing and speaking, has a limited number of consonants that make for difficult transliteration, especially from languages that have them in greater numbers. But the accompanying photo clearly shows that the original message was written in Tamil and the sign painter used his own discretion on how to write it in English.

-MMM

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