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

Vol. XXVIII No. 7, July 16-31, 2018

Short ‘N’ Snappy

-MMM

The Pot calling the Kettle

These are ultra-sensitive times and so The Man from Madras Musings will leave that heading incomplete. He does not want the Society for the Eradication of all Stigma against Black or some such fringe body to sue him, but you do get the general message. This was the thought that came to mind when the roly-poly sage from Delhi, who is the other half of the national leader who sleeps for just three hours and boasts a 56-inch chest, came to our city and pronounced us the most corrupt.

In the same breath, he also announced that his Party is quite open to a coalition (ghatbandhan in non-Tamil and therefore the sage’s parlance) with like-minded parties. The point is, if the State is so corrupt then every Party here is equally greasy, which means the clean and incorruptible Beef Jeopardising Party cannot really have a tie-up with any of them. Then how is bearded sage contemplating such a move really puzzles MMM. He also wonders if this label of corrupt includes the local Government, which has after all been a sort of B Team for the boys in power in Delhi. If that is so, then the Tweedledum-Tweedledee combo holding office here is likely to be mighty disappointed, for they had always made it clear that they owed everything to the men in Delhi.

The other pronouncement of the visitor was that once his Party sweeps to power here it would take the local language, namely Tamil, to the world. Now this too puzzled MMM. For, after all, we in Tamil Nadu have hosted several World Tamil Conferences and had been given to understand that successive local Governments had been working tirelessly for our lingua. They had even gone to the extent of funding chairs for Tamil in American universities at enormous expense even while refusing funding to local libraries that are doing real service to the language. MMM also noticed that the chairs in local universities are in a pretty bad shape. The last few times that MMM visited he noticed several without armrests, legs and in one instance a gaping hole in the middle. MMM was asked to perch at the extreme end. Surely a tithe from what is being spent on chairs abroad could be expended on keeping chairs here in order. But MMM realises that the latter activity will not make headlines.

On the subject of local language, MMM wonders as to what has happened to the scholar from up north who belongs to Beef Jeopardising Party and who for long professed a deep love for matters Tamil, in particular for the poet who gave us sage pronouncements all set in two lines sometime in the 2nd Century. This scholar, who rather strangely shared the same initials as the poet whose works he kept quoting, went to the extent of getting a statue for said poet unveiled in distant Delhi. But he then blotted his copybook by stating that the people up North tolerated us people down South despite our dark skins. He has been cast in to the outer darkness ever since.

Something tells MMM that the blandishments of roly-poly sage from Delhi (not to be confused with local sage of 2nd Century who gave us couplets and who as far as MMM can see from statues was quite well-built and not in the least roly-poly) will fall on deaf ears here. And as for bearded sage from up North, MMM has only one advice, taken entirely from local sage of 2nd Century – Delight Not In Empty Deeds.

New for the Old

It continues to remain standing despite the best efforts of its owners, the Life Insurance Corporation of India. The Man from Madras Musings refers to Bharath Insurance aka Kardyl Building, which, as you know, completes a decade and more of remaining a roofless shell. The LIC, whose word is its bond, is following the High Court judgement to a T. The Law, if you recollect, said that the building cannot be demolished. As to what is implied by that statement is clear to everyone except the LIC. The popular view is that the structure ought to be preserved, while the owner has interpreted the judgement to mean that the building ought to fall by itself and not be pushed by a wrecker. And so it remains, the only protection offered being a tarpaulin sheet over what was once the roof. But anything that withstood the flood of 2015 and cyclone Vardah in 2016 is unlikely to be a pushover.

It was perhaps encouraged by this that two quixotic individuals known to MMM approached the LIC last month wanting to take the building on rent, restore it to an extent and convert it into a museum. The officials contacted reacted as though they had been invited to trade in narcotics. Did the two not know, asked the officials, that the building was unsafe for occupation? Yes, they did, replied the duo and they were quite willing to fund any structural corrections, they said. This enthusiastic reply was clearly not what was expected and it caused the officials to retire for a private confabulation. They emerged with a new excuse – the High Court they declared, had said the building ought to be left as it was and so there was no question of anyone making changes or occupying it. And so that was that.

In this connection, MMM recalls that the LIC took it into its head to sponsor large chunks of the December Music Festival last year. A senior functionary, who declared himself a lover of the classical arts was responsible for this. He was present at the inaugural event and said he would come every day. That was when MMM, introduced to the man, said he looked forward to a long and cosy chat with him on the future of Bharat Insurance Buildings. Upon hearing this, the man turned a Nile green and mumbled something. He did not appear at any concert on any of the succeeding days. So nervous was he about any discussions on the building.

It is indeed a pity that such an organisation as the LIC should be having such a rigid attitude towards this wonderful structure. This lack of interest in the building is puzzling especially in the light of the LIC restoring many of its heritage properties in other parts of India.

Tailpiece

Years from now, when The Man from Madras Musings is asked by St Peter as to what he did throughout life, he will have a ready answer – filled up forms. This appears to have become a national pastime, ranking second to lynching, which is undoubtedly the first. The number of forms to be filled is fast multiplying manifold, and there appears to be no let up. The latest is a set of paper forms that is being sent out by various organisations stating that they are going green and so would like to have everyone’s consent. God knows how many tonnes of paper forms have been printed for this. Makes you see red.

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