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

Vol. XXVIII No. 16, December 1-15, 2018

Short ‘N’ Snappy


Why it will not rain

They came, they saw, and they left. The Man from Madras Musings alludes to the clouds that descended rapidly on Chennai and then left as soon they arrived, leaving not a wrack behind. They poured their plenty on to the sea, they rained just outside city limits, and they wreaked havoc on areas further south. They gave our beloved metropolis a wide berth.

The Met Office is puzzled over this. They have chosen to explain this dislike for Chennai as an anti-cyclone system. MMM, on the other hand, is quite clear – ever since December 2015 when we found ourselves blessed with more rain than we could handle, and, what with someone not waking up in time to order the opening of sluice gates via video-conferencing, being flooded up to our eyeballs – we have become a city that is terrified of the merest drizzle. The appearance of a cloud or two in the sky is enough to send the populace into a total state of panic.

Those who have built houses/gated communities or blocks of flats on erstwhile lakes begin praying that there should be no rain. After all, ever since 2015 the real estate market has been down and it is only now that prospective buyers are coming back, overlooking the fact that housing lots are coming up on lakebeds once again. A second flood at this stage would spell disaster for this industry. So no rains please. “What we want is simple rain,” said a society matron to MMM. “No cyclone or winds or thunder or lightning.” MMM wondered if she had mistaken the hosing of her lawn for rain.

Our city’s Corporation has just embarked on some massive digs and so does not want any rain. The Metrowater is yet to clear up stormwater drains and so is reluctant to suffer rains. Any rain would mean the shifting of entire housing colonies that are vote banks and so the average politician does not want rain. The Metro Rail cannot suffer yet another flooding of tracks. The Sabha Secretary cannot handle one more Season of uncertainty and so prays for rains to stay away. The NRI arriving in December fears disruption of flight schedules and hopes Chennai will stay dry. After what happened in 2015 when premier cars emerged the worst hit, the upper classes don’t want rain. The middle classes would rather suffer a drought, complete with water arriving in petroleum tankers than see one more of those floods. As for the poor, MMM guesses they don’t have a choice, flood, rain, hail or drought, and so they don’t matter. It is perhaps only the children who pray for rain and consequent closure of schools. Clearly they don’t pray hard enough.

You get the picture. With such active dislike for rain, which self-respecting cloud (MMM is told that the technical term these days is rain band) would like to give of its plenty to our city? Which is why the rains have chosen to stay away. And now let us get on with calling the nearest and more reliable water supply service.

At the Registrar’s

Each time she thinks that The Man from Madras Musings is idling, his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, has a habit of sending him off on an errand or two. And many a time these involve MMM having to go to some Government department or the other. The most recent visit had MMM calling at a local Registrar’s office, with the good lady leading him along. MMM cannot say that he enjoys these visits, but then he does learn a thing or two about life.

All Registrar offices in Chennai, at least the ones MMM is familiar with, appear to have been designed by architects who specialise in dungeons, catacombs and crypts. The principal aim appears to be to minimise sunlight and air as much as possible. In addition, the number of seats available for the visiting public has to be one hundredth the number of people who come there on business. In this last aspect, MMM is of the view that the general public is also to blame. Any business at the Registrar is viewed as a family outing and involves, apart from the signatory and the witnesses, an uncle or two, an aunt whose sole job is to mutter prayers, a cousin who is forever on the phone, the obligatory tout and the general hanger-on. And, so, seats at a Registrar’s office are always at a premium.

This was an office for registration for marriages, apart from sale of property and other such mundane matters. In order to provide a wedding hall-like atmosphere, the powers-that-be had provided for piped music of the pipe music variety. This was consistently off key as it is in most weddings as well and this, added to the usual chaos that abounded, really made the place akin to a marriage venue. Every once in a while an officious voice thundered that those who did not have any work at the Registrar’s ought to wait outside. This did not have any effect and the numbers kept increasing. Droves of brides and grooms came in, were sworn in as man and wife, and left to live happily ever after. MMM half expected the Registrar, seated in all his majesty in a cage of sorts, to sprinkle grains of rice on the newlyweds, apart from singing something like the ‘Voice That Breathed O’er Eden’.

It was MMM‘s turn to meet the grand panjandrum and since MMM had long been in a state of happy wedlock, his was a more humdrum matter. The registrar stopped smiling and, having looked at MMM‘s identity card, asked MMM as to why the holder of the card had not come in person. It was only then that MMM realised that the regulation photo on the card did not resemble him at all. MMM, left to himself, would have slunk away at this stage but not so his good lady who, having fixed the Registrar with a beady eye, said that this was MMM‘s card. The man wilted and then asked MMM to state his business. This having been done, MMM was asked to present his papers to a clerk.

It was there that MMM came across the next knotty issue. The matter concerned inheritance and MMM had filled in that he was the only child of his parents. The clerk clearly disbelieved it. The form had space for the names of at least eight siblings and, so, he felt MMM was wasting paper. He cleared his throat and asked MMM if he, MMM, was withholding information on siblings because, he, MMM, did not get along with them. MMM denied this. Whereupon the clerk went off to the Registrar and the two confabulated, periodically looking in MMM‘s direction. The clerk was soon back. It was OK he said if MMM had fought with his siblings, but it was not done to withhold any inheritance from them. MMM once again reiterated that such was not the case. The clerk then asked MMM to give a signed declaration to this effect, which MMM gladly did, just to escape the claustrophobic atmosphere of the place.

Coming away, MMM reflected on how our bureaucracy can create a complication where none existed. And claim to solve it by a mere declaration.

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