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

Vol. XXVIII No. 13, October 16-31, 2018

Short N Snappy

MMM

Public Service, Chennai Style

Mylapore, which to The Man from Madras Musings is the centre of the universe, becomes quite unapproachable during the festival of nine nights aka Navaratri. Doll sellers occupy the pavements, such as they are, and set up displays of their wares. The civic authorities, who in MMMs view, consider our street widths to be elastic and, therefore, capable of expanding at will to accommodate all demands for space, make no effort to restrict traffic around the four Mada streets during this season, or, for that matter, at any other  time of the year. As a consequence, vehicles of all kinds jostle for space with an increased number of pedestrians, who in turn stop at every doll-seller’s stall and slow down movement. Tempers run high and the language used is rich to a degree.

During such occasions, MMM does not add to the chaos by driving to Mylapore. He prefers to walk to and from the place. The distance between chez MMM and the temple is not exactly short, but then it is not really all that far either. And, so, it happened recently, MMM walked to Mylapore, and his work there having concluded, walked back. An added bonus was that he could take a good look  at the dolls being sold. The wares this year were, however, disappointing in the extreme.

Having brooded on the general decline in quality, MMM walked on, and presently left Mylapore. A short distance away there was quite a bit of chaos. Traffic had come to a standstill. Cars were hooting angrily. Fortunately for everyone, this was a thoroughfare into which buses could not come and so those brute vehicles were not added to an already heady mix. The epicentre of all this was a stalled car and standing next to it, wringing his hands in helplessness, was a man whom MMM knew. He was trying to explain by word and gesture that he needed the vehicle to be pushed and that help was  not exactly forthcoming. MMM immediately bounded in and offered to push. This  was accepted with alacrity and the man got into his vehicle.

And so there was MMM, in full evening dress, pushing a fairly large car along the road. The vehicles behind, after a final hoot or two, moved on, but not before bestowing dirty looks at the owner of the stalled car. As for the pedestrians, MMM did notice a couple of them taking photos on their cell phones of MMM pushing the car, but beyond that there was no help forthcoming. The cake was taken by a man who came close and then helpfully advised MMM that  his effort would bear more  fruit if he placed his hands differently on the car’s boot. Having said that, he walked away, leaving MMM to toil.

MMM pushed the car all the way to the end of the road where there was sufficient space to park it. The grateful owner thanked MMM profusely and then went off to look for a mechanic, even as MMM trudged home. He had never realised that pushing a car was so difficult.

Having come home, MMM was received by his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, and she queried the reason for MMMs dishevelled appearance. MMM told her all, fully expecting a word of praise for his public service. On the contrary, the good lady clicked her tongue censoriously. If she had been in MMMs place, said She Who Must Be Obeyed, she would have sat in the car and steered it while the owner pushed. Did it not even occur to MMM, she asked. Truly, it had not. Which is why MMM is MMM and his good lady is She Who Must Be Obeyed.

List of Don’ts

The Man from Madras Musings, his good lady and several others have just returned from a tour of several heritage spots in a State that is forever in a stage of war with our State over the river that connects us both. On the itinerary was the City of Victory, once capital of a great empire that included all of our  State, but now a ruin, albeit maintained very well thanks to the UNESCO World Heritage status that it enjoys.

It was a spot where every prospect pleased, but alas, as the poem goes, only man was vile. The attendants in charge of each of the monuments, all of them in the employ of the Archaeological Survey of India, had devised their own set of rules on what could be done and, more importantly, what could not be done at these monuments.

MMM and friends had seated themselves in the courtyard of a temple with a rich musical history. One of the group was a talented and professional singer and he was asked to sing a song that had been composed 400 years earlier at the same shrine. He had barely launched into the composition when along came a guard and said that UNESCO rules forbid singing of songs at protected sites. MMM knew this was not true, but he chose not to argue. The group moved to a place in the open and the song was duly sung.

The next port of call was a picturesque spot and one of the group being a talented artist, began to sketch the sight. Mind you, it was just a small notepad, and not an easel on a stand or any such thing. But who should come along but a security guard to state that no sketching was permitted as per ASI rules in protected monuments. Some others were busy with their cameras and were told that no photography was permitted either. It was a wonder that we were allowed to even walk about the place. MMM could not help wondering as to why, despite so much of security, many of the monuments were disfigured with graffiti.

If this is the way the ASI hopes to attract visitors to its monuments, it had better do some serious rethinking. MMM can understand restrictions on photography, for usage of flash can affect paintings in particular. But what can the possible objection be to sketching and/or singing?

Tailpiece

Red Alert they said, heavy rains they declared and having done all that, they also announced that the monsoon was arriving a fortnight earlier. It amazes The Man from Madras Musings that the weather forecasters could have got it so wrong in this time and age. It stayed dry, and there is no sign of the monsoon either. Not everyone complained by the way – the schools played it safe by closing down in anticipation of the floods. And, our Corporation, having just announced that we were ready for deluges of all kinds, even while everyone knew that the ground reality was otherwise, heaved a sigh of relief and went back to its state of rest. Of course we do not know what the next week will bring.

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