Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVII No. 8, August 1-15, 2017
Have you heard of the Boat Club area, Chief? Like Hamelin Town in Brunswick, to quote from the poem on the Pied Piper from the same city, the Boat Club area has the river Adyar on the southern side and a pleasanter spot you never spied. You know the place – where in summer the river lies at the bottom of the road and there is a boat club at the end of it. En route are homes of several of ’em toffs. And then in winter the river rises until the road is at the bottom of the river and the toffs referred to above club together, procure boats, and nimbly row away to safety.
During the days when the river resumes being its placid self, this area is what is known as a walkers’ paradise. You will find people walking briskly around the main thoroughfares and the quiet side streets disturbed by nothing except the passing of a high-end car or two, the refined barking of a pure bred pedigreed dog or two and then sometimes the running in large numbers of black-cat commandos, who in the manner of all things government, have commandeered the best possible residence in the area, just on the edge of the river. Such is the sylvan peace of this neighbourhood that people from all over Chennai that was Madras and is now all set to become Greater Chennai, flock here to walk. The Man from Madras Musings is informed that even those living as far away as Anna Nagar, which if it had been in Europe would have been an independent nation, come here to walk. Being seen walking in Boat Club is said to be an indication of status, so MMM is told. As someone said to MMM the other day, if you are streetwalking in Chennai, it is best done in the Boat Club area. MMM is quite sure that by streetwalking the person had only exercise in mind and nothing else.
The Government, which as you know has only one agenda – namely to make life difficult for people – has evidently not liked the fact that too many people are walking in the Boat Club area. It therefore decided to break up such congregation, perhaps fearing another outbreak of a Jallikattu-like protest. MMM could have with confidence advised the powers-that-be that most of the likes who walk in that area cannot differentiate a Jallikattu from a jelly cat. Lacking a wise adviser like MMM, the Government got all jittery and decided to dig the place up, no doubt to prevent people from foregathering. This can be the only reason, for of real work there is none. Giant bobbins with cables have been rolled into position and deep trenches have been dug. In short, the whole place looks like a battleground.
But, as MMM, noticed, the walkers are a hardy lot. They have decided to continue walking on whatever little road is left. The numbers have not reduced one bit and even those from Anna Nagar are still commuting on a daily basis, rather in the manner of wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings. And all these immigrants to the area bring their cars, which have to be parked on the few flat spaces still left, between the trenches and the bobbins. The space left for walking is down to a bare minimum, but that has not prevented the walkers from walking, the commandoes from commandeering the place for running, and vehicular life from hogging entire roads. The end result is that tempers are frayed and road rage is on the rise. It appears to MMM that only the Government is happy.
Can you do a serious talk without your usual comedy, asked the Chief of The Man from Madras Musings. To this MMM demurely dropped his eyelids and whispered that he would try. This being Madras Week time, the Chief scatters the seed of celebration high, wide and plentiful and, occasionally, when he falls short of a victim or two, ropes in MMM for sacrifices. The topic this time is on the socio-political perspective of Madras that became Chennai and Greater Chennai thereafter. As to how MMM is to go about this MMM has no idea and the Chief is not exactly helpful, what with his being busy rousing everyone to festive pitch.
MMM is therefore left to his devices and these, such as they are, are hampered by the diktat to avoid humour. One of the points that MMM has come up with is the complete absence of the local populace when it comes to work. Where have all the Tamils, once so many in the professions of construction, nursing, hair dressing, waiting at restaurants, driving and other such services, gone? There is a theory that the State has engineered a social revolution and all of our people are upwardly mobile and therefore look down on such activities. As a consequence, people from other States have come and filled the gaps. MMM has his doubts. He is of the view that the good local is at the local bar, so kindly provided by the Government. There he has elevated himself and is now musing from on high, about life.
There is also another arena that has apparently consumed Tamilian time – a reality show. Titled Bigg Boss (yes, with two g’s), it is a hand me down from the developed countries of the world, and having done its time in various Indian languages has now come to Tamil. World Star, he of Lotus Smile, is hosting it. And by way of gathering viewership has made some remarks about the Ministers in Government. The public servants referred to (at least that is what they said they were wanting to be when they came campaigning) have got riled no end and retaliated with accusations about World Star. Result? Many Tamils hooked on to the show. Then came World Star Lotus Smile’s announcement that he was ruminating in the recesses of his medulla oblongata about the odds if he were to try his fortunes in the turnstiles which was his way of stating that he was thinking about entering politics. He can never state anything without using words of many syllables, several of which MMM suspects are yet to make it to a dictionary. Lotus Smile’s ambitions, when duly translated to plain speak, riled the followers of Super Star who has forever kept us all guessing about whether he would enter politics, though MMM thinks that that bus has long gone. Result? Still more Tamils hooked on to the show.
Then came the piece-de-resistance. One of the stars in the reality show, who rejoices in the name of Painting, made a few sensible statements for a change. Result? Yet more Tamils hooked on to the show – many crores of them at last count. These right-thinking individuals began a campaign that Painting be made Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. It is that easy apparently. This riled every politician with similar ambitions in the State. Result? Far too many Tamils hooked on to the show. Social media exploded. Programme producer delighted. Advertisers laughed all the way to the bank. The channel broadcasting it is truly victorious. Lotus Smile is no doubt beaming from ear to ear so much that it is a wonder his lips are not meeting up at the back of his head. Painting’s career, non-existent for long, has boomed. And it has not occurred to our brethren that they are being manipulated just to bump up viewership ratings.
With our people off tilting at such windmills who has the time to work? It is time to observe Madras Weak.