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

Vol. XXVIII No. 17, December 16-31, 2018

Short ‘N’ Snappy


The school admissions saga

This is that time of the year when the mind of The Man from Madras Musings naturally turns towards music and other related festivities. Like Good King Wenceslaus (or was it Old King Cole?), MMM likes to see smiling faces about him. But what he sees are several haggard and careworn visages going around. The principal cause of worry appears to be school admissions, for children and grandchildren, and, in an odd case or two, great-grandchildren. All over the city, you see people trying to reach out to people who are related to people on school boards. This is that time of the year when a second cousin to the wife of the brother of a man who knows a committee member or two in a school acquires tremendous importance.

Before the School Admission Demands Society (SADS), if there is such a body, registers a formal protest against what it may see as MMM’s callous attitude towards parents, let MMM assure it that he well understands what it is to go through this trauma. MMM too has been through it in his time. And he managed it entirely through hard work and merit – in the way in which he went about identifying the second cousin to the wife of the brother of a man who knew a committee member or two.

Nowadays, MMM too is besieged with such requests. There are comments as to how surely MMM, being such a man about town, ought to know a second cousin to the wife of the brother of a man who knows a committee member or two. MMM does oblige, as and when he chances on the above-mentioned relative. And so it has been this year. In the process, MMM does a mental evaluation of which school is up in the lists and which is down. It transpires that the institution that goes under the name of Disciple is very much in demand. But what deters parents is that registration for school admissions there is wait-listed to an extent that people need to put in an application even before they plan to have a child. The Temple of Learning, the School Named After The Great preceptor, and the Institution (or Chain of Them) Named After a Lady and run by a Grand Old Lady are all chugging along, each being in demand. The school with just an article preceding it was in demand but now less so because it is set to move from its sylvan location to somewhere far off.

The new entry in the lists is the central government-run school located inside the forest-like campus of a premier technical institution of our country. With a name that can be roughly translated as the Goddess of Learning In A Forest, it is now topping the charts. Its waiting list for admissions in the lowest grade, which is Kindergarten, exceeds 200. And the reason for all this is the man who took over as the chief of the largest search engine out there. The man, who has a name that can be translated as Handsome Mendicant (even though his net worth, as per the search engine he runs is US$ 1.2 bn), apparently studied in this institution in the final years of his schooling. As a consequence, every parent thinks his or her child will climb the ladder of success the same way.

MMM is not so sure. If the school were all that mattered, surely we would have had far more Handsome Mendicants worth US$ 1.2 bn in our midst? But try explaining that to these parents. MMM is now seriously considering advising the parents that names too matter and may be they ought to consider changing the names of their wards to Handsome Mendicant.

New cars for old

The Man from Madras Musings had driven up for a meeting at one of the better class of hotels in the city. He was in a hurry and having handed over his keys to one of the valets in attendance, took the token and rushed away to his rendezvous. MMM returned an hour later and handed back his token at the counter to a harassed looking valet who appeared to be the only person on duty. The man duly set off and MMM waited, spending his time on watching people come and go. He was quite used to a long wait. Cars of the kind that MMM uses are not parked under the portico of the hotel but somewhere far below in its underbelly from where it takes quite a while to retrieve them.

Suddenly there was a hush even as an expensive vehicle rolled up. MMM too gazed at the car and remained gazing long enough to overlook an obsequious presence by his side. The man appeared to be entreating MMM to do something and so MMM, rather reluctantly turned his gaze towards him and paid attention. Would, Sir, not get into his car, asked the scraping and bowing minion. MMM looked around and could not see his car anywhere in sight. He said as much to the fawning valet who looked ready to prostrate before MMM. Surely Sir was joking, said the man, for was this not Sir’s car? MMM blinked at the changeling that was standing in place of his more humble steed. He assured the man that this was not so and demanded to see the token that he MMM, handed over to the him, the valet. This was duly produced and sure enough there was the number of the swanky car that stood at the portico.

MMM was tempted for a moment but his conscience advised him against it. He could clearly see that this was a case of mixed up tokens and the hotel would have hell to pay if the rightful owner of the expensive vehicle found it gone with the wind. And no doubt MMM too would have hell to pay. He therefore explained as much to the valet who, rather disbelievingly, launched an investigation and found much to his consternation that MMM was correct after all. MMM’s car was driven up after a long wait and when MMM got in, he noticed that nobody took note, not even the valet, a reasonable tip notwithstanding. The car makes the man.

Silent airport

As you may be aware, our beloved airport recently declared that it was going to be a silent one. That was no doubt to enable people to hear falling tiles and cracking glass panels in time to duck for safety. Hereafter, therefore, you will no longer hear announcements of when flights are taking off or landing. You need to keep your eyes peeled for spotting the announcements on the electronic display boards.

At least that was the expectation of The Man from Madras Musings. But when he reached there last week he found the decibel levels had only increased. What with the way airports function and the general chaos that prevails, the staff manning the counters have taken to relying on pure lungpower. The general effect is one of a market where several costermongers are calling attention to their wares. MMM sincerely hopes that all airlines, no matter the parlous state of their finances, are providing cough drops and throat pastilles to their employees. They may otherwise consider collectively building a hospital specialising in afflictions of the throat.

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