Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVIII No. 21, February 16-28, 2019
With the Music and Dance season drawing to a close, it is wedding season in our beloved Madras that is Chennai. Everywhere you see the banns being put up and people being united in holy wedlock. The Man from Madras Musings is simply flooded with invitations. Left to himself he would hide many of them and not go but his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed believes that such invites are inviolate and have to be honoured. And so MMM dons his best and goes about being the typical wedding attendee.
Mind you, things have eased as MMM advances in age. He has now reached that stage where he hardly knows the couple tying the knot. The parents, sometimes of the groom, at other times of the bride, in many times both, are the ones who invite MMM and so he hardly bothers to stand in the long queue to greet the couple. A simple wave to the person who invited MMM and then a quick dash to the dinner counter is MMM’s motto. He of course wishes the bridal couple well but such greetings are from the heart and do not require the obligatory shaking of hand, the beaming smile and the posing for the photograph, the last of which always has MMM sporting a dazed look.
But what happens if on arrival at a venue there is not a single person from the bridal parties and the guests just mill around looking lost? That is precisely what happened last week when MMM attended a wedding reception. The invite said dinner would be served from 7.00 pm and so MMM went at 7.30 only to find guests seated around tables, indulging in small conversation and periodically glancing at the buffet counter where there was no activity whatsoever. Of the newly weds or their parents there was not a sign.
The father of the bride made his appearance by 8.00 pm. The dinner counter was at last ready. Of the couple there was still no sign. MMM beamed at the father who in all the chaos clearly had no idea as to who MMM was or for that matter who the other guests were. He just smiled at everyone and kept repeating that we had to have our dinner before we left. Did he not know that we had come precisely for that? And so we dined, and departed. Last heard, the newlyweds had still not arrived.
Last week saw the centenary celebrations of S. Rajam, a great personality in the field of fine arts. He was a painter, a singer, a teacher, a scholar, and a fine human being. The Man from Madras Musings was lucky to have been a close associate for the last decade of this wonderful person’s life. And so, when events were organised to commemorate his 100th year, there was none happier than MMM.
Now it appears that this excitement had somehow managed to penetrate journalistic circles and someone decided that this was newsworthy. They also decided that this is where the young trainee, whom none had any idea as to what to do with, could be of some use. They gave her the name of the artiste and told her that she ought to do some research and come up with a suitable piece. And in case she had any doubts she could always call MMM, who, no doubt in the mind of whoever it was that set up the trainee for this article, was quite jobless and so could be ‘mined’ for assistance, with the bait of a sound byte.
These days research largely means reading Wikipedia and sure enough the young trainee struck gold, or at least what she thought were precious nuggets of information. But then the entry had just one paragraph, which was not enough and so she decided to rope MMM in on the project. A call was made and went like this:
Trainee (T) : Sir (if she had said uncle MMM would have ended the call then and there which would probably have been better for everyone), I am looking for some information on Sundaram Rajam and thought you could help.
Now, MMM had always thought of Rajam as Rajam and the prefix had him confused. (He later discovered that Wikipedia had the name as Sundaram Rajam and so that was where the young lady was coming from).
MMM: I am sorry, I have no idea as to who this is.
T: But sir, they told me you would know. And it is his centenary.
MMM: Do you mean S. Rajam?
T: Yes sir, Sundaram Rajam.
MMM: Will you tell me what you know about him so that I don’t repeat the same information?
T: Sir, he was a great actor. And also a singer and painter.
Opinion is sharply divided on whether MMM ought to have told the Trainee to do her homework before calling and cut the call. MMM still believes he was correct in doing so. Not so said his good lady, when MMM, who has no secrets from her (she would find out anyway), duly related the story to her. What got MMM’s goat was the listing of actor before singer and painter. Rajam acted in just three films and while they were early, and therefore pioneering movies, they do not make him a superstar who also sang and painted. It was only later that MMM read the Wikipedia entry and it listed Rajam as Actor, Painter and Singer, in that order. Meanwhile, the Trainee is yet to return with her homework done. The centenary celebrations went off well and are no doubt no longer newsworthy.
If you thought the troubles of The Man from Madras Musings as regards that centenary had ended with that call you are grossly mistaken. The next caller, another journalist, asked MMM his view of the centenary. MMM said he was delighted. The man at the other end was clearly disappointed. He asked MMM if he, MMM was really delighted. When MMM said yes, the journalist asked MMM as to why he, MMM, was delighted. To this MMM did not reply. He sensed that the caller was fishing for a controversy where none existed. No doubt it would have suited the journalist if MMM had spewed venom on the events. And so that ended yet another conversation.