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Vol. XXVIII No. 18, January 1-15, 2019

Short ‘N’ Snappy

Last mile connectivity

This is a phrase that is much in use these days. The Man from Madras Musings notes that it is employed in just about any context – from Metro rail to the capability of a deliveryman in reaching a parcel to the destination where it is intended. MMM is, however, of simpler stock and thinks of last mile connectivity each time he is invited to make a presentation.

MMM readily accepts these requests. He likes being on stage and speaking from there. It is also the one place where his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, allows him to exercise his right to freedom of speech. And he does prepare for these. But all the while, even as he goes about collecting the necessary photographs, audio and video files, he does have several doubts at the back of his head, and all of these have to do with last mile connectivity – namely will his laptop communicate with the overhead projector at the venue? And this is something that MMM has come to realise over the years has no one answer. It may happen; on the other hand it may not. It is all the luck of the draw.

Much depends on the so-called technician at the site. This is generally a negative-minded individual who is of the view that his (and MMM is yet to meet a female at this job) projection equipment is of the best and failure, if any, to communicate rests solely with the laptop being brought along. Too often, these technicians know only how to switch on the projector and if things do not work at first click, switch off and switch on the projector again, before throwing in the towel. And then it is all left to MMM, who apart from praying fervently, gets on with all the twiddling, sometimes suffering nasty electric and other shocks in the process. Fortunately it all comes out fine at the end, but only after some plugging and, praying.

Coming down to first principles, have you ever seen a connector to the projector that is not held together by scotch tape? MMM has seen none. It his view that the moment a projector is bought, the technician jumps on the connecting lead and having cracked it, proceeds to paste it together with tape. It must be a Masonic right of sorts, or it could be a requirement of the Projector Operators’ Guild. The second requirement is that the projector always has to be propped up with something and this can vary – from a vintage telephone directory to a brick. After all this, the image on screen will still be at an angle to the screen itself, with considerable parts of it spilling on to the wall behind, thereby giving viewers a three-dimensional effect.

Lastly, the projector has to exhibit its venerable age by always being coated and covered in dust. This, in MMM’s view, contributes to much of the problem but not in the opinion of the technician. He loves the dust, perhaps as a Biblical reminder that that is what we will all end up as. But this has an unfortunate side effect – the colours of the presentation get all distorted. What MMM planned out as a pleasing pastel pink becomes a garish magenta and all greens appear as yellow while white does not show up at all. But try explaining that to the technician.

MMM recently reached a venue to deliver a presentation and found the organiser wringing his hands. Apparently the screen for MMM’s presentation had not yet arrived. MMM was delighted. Here he was, all prepared for a battle with the projector when even the mother of all equipment had not come. MMM was all set for a presentation sans modern aids when the screen made its grand arrival. It was MMM’s turn to wring his hands, but fortunately all went well, not however before some baulking on the part of the technician, complete with a taped up lead.

The food that’s music

The Man from Madras Musings has heard it being said that a truly great art has to be multidimensional, appealing to different people at various levels. In that respect, nothing can beat Carnatic Music from MMM’s point of view, for, apart from catching hold of its aficionados (MMM has heard this pronounced as afficindo) via their heart, ears and minds, it also attracts people through their stomachs. This latter aspect, in MMM’s point of view is something that has not been given the attention it deserves.

Come December, so MMM is given to understand, a festive atmosphere prevails in Sowcarpet and other areas where our brethren from the northern parts of our country reside. The moment they find the concert schedules published in The Hindu‘s 1st of December supplement, they begin planning their visits to the various sabhas. Dates are planned weeks in advance and on that particular day, everyone gets ready in his or her Sunday best and leaves early for the venues. They need to be there in time to get the best seats. This is the day they have been looking forward to for weeks. It would be too bad if they arrived late and found all the chairs occupied.

Once at the venue, they all make a beeline for the canteen and order just about every South Indian delicacy they find. And having feasted, they move into the main auditorium, enjoy the air-conditioned atmosphere for a brief while, with free music to boot, and leave. Their stomach is their God, as a great humorist once wrote, and they sacrifice burnt offerings to it. The music is quite incidental to this gastronomic experience. Several in fact give the performances a complete miss, the AC notwithstanding, and go home to sleep it off. A few don’t even know that there is a music festival going on.

Among the favoured venues is the Music Academy. With ample parking space, a large canteen and a central location, this is where the worshippers of food gather each afternoon in large numbers. And this year, what with Silken Father being the caterer of choice at this location, the crowds were even larger. MMM who is a fixture at the Academy was given to understand by Silken Father himself, that he is under considerable pressure to prepare this dish or that by these regulars. In fact, said Silken Father to MMM in a burst of pride, some of these gourmands formed a social media group in advance, invited Silken Father to be a part of it and uploaded their favourite menus on it.

Happy New Year

Yet another year has gone by. Each time a new calendar comes along, The Man from Madras Musings wonders as to whether he would be able to keep this column going for another set of 12 months. And then he reflects, that as long as Chennai remains what it is there should be no dearth of subjects. And so, on behalf of the Chief, the Special Correspondent, the resident Printer’s Devil and, of course, the despatch section, the printing and page layout departments and everyone else, MMM wishes you all a great 2019. Keep laughing and that should see you through.


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