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

Vol. XXIX No. 13, October 16-31, 2019



A sofa with six legs

The Man from Madras Musings is not much of a shopper whether it be the real or the virtual kind. He rarely buys anything except for books, the rest of this activity being taken care of by his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed. And so when she announced that a new sofa had been ordered MMM merely nodded acquiescence and awaited the new arrival with bated breath.

MMM’s good lady had ordered it the e-way, though not on ebay but one of those sites that has a name that sounds like a spice being sautéed. And so in due course the sofa duly arrived, delivered by a man who wore a company T shirt – black in colour with the sautéed spice logo and name emblazoned in white. MMM was most impressed. He was even more so when the man unpacked, duly assembled the sofa, cleared the packaging away and left, without expectation of a tip. Aha, here we were in the 21st Century at last reflected MMM and on that happy note decided to curl up on the new sofa and snooze.

It was only on waking up with a sensation of leaning to one side that MMM decided that matters needed to be investigated. After having ascertained that the problem was not with MMM but the sofa that he began looking at it more carefully. Sure enough, the problem was soon revealed – the sofa had six legs of which only four had bushes. The man had clearly overlooked fixing them on the other two and so the entire sofa had a distinctly lopsided feel to it.

This having been ordered the e-way, the remedy too had to be via the same route. In the old days, a phone call would have been made and someone you knew at the other end would have assured you of service. MMM guesses that in earlier times a letter would have been sent. Anyway, MMM, with enough experience on other websites of not receiving any response after registering complaints the e-way, opted to put out a tweet on the problem instead, tagging the sautéed spice company in the message. That, as is invariably the case, produced an instantaneous response and within a few hours the man who had delivered the sofa was back.

His first reaction was one of awe. How did MMM notice that there were only four out of six bushes he asked. MMM smiled modestly. He, the deliveryman that is, then declared that he did not have any spare bushes with him. MMM, smiling a lot less by then asked the man as to why he had come to attend a problem of bushes without any spare ones. To this he had no answer. He did acknowledge that MMM had a point there and promised to be back soon, with a bagful of bushes.

He was back soon thereafter, with a triumphant smile – the bushes had been found but the new ones would be black in colour, while the old ones were white. And so he proceeded to fix the two new bushes and having dusted his hands, beamed at MMM triumphantly. Finding that MMM did not sport an equally gratifying smile he was concerned and asked if anything was wrong. MMM had to tell him that he did not fancy going through life with a sofa that was piebald in the legs. The bushes had all to be of the same colour said MMM. The deliveryman gave in but not with good grace and made the replacements. MMM noticed that he did not clean up the debris before leaving this time.

Perhaps the sautéed spice does cause some temper but the episode did bring home to MMM the fact that we were not yet in the 21st Century when it came to perfection in delivery and after sales service.

After the fines skyrocketed

By a stroke of a pen, or it may be by the punch of a key, whoever it is that passes these laws has ensured that fines for traffic violations have been increased many times over in this, our land. Every kind of disobedience on the road will now attract damages that are in four figures at the minimum, along with endorsement of licence for certain misdemeanours. Cameras have come up on many thoroughfares and in some places at intervals of ten feet or so. They wink and blink at the vehicles that pass by and their switching between blue and pink lights makes for a colourful display. MMM sincerely hopes that they are recording violations and passing on the recorded numbers to the authorities for the imposing of suitable fines.

With so many checks in place MMM expected that traffic behaviour would improve but that has not yet happened. Perhaps it will. On the other hand it may not. But MMM is still puzzled over why policemen have increased in numbers at all traffic junctions and once there they do not so much regulate traffic but lie in wait for two-wheelers in particular and on whom they pounce with unfailing regularity.

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MMM wonders as to what they do after apprehending these riders. From what MMM can see, there appears to ensue a prolonged conversation beneath a tree or two, the beginnings being rather one sided, with the police doing much of the talking and the riders adopting a very beseeching and obsequious attitude. Subsequently, there is a silence of sorts, the police having said its say and the apprehended still digesting its import. After this, conversation becomes general and then the offenders, if in a group retire a short distance away and confabulate amongst each other even as the police, who have several calls on their time, focus on other offenders who are passing by. And then the shortly-to-be-declared offenders return. There are fresh parleys and then everyone departs with a smile on their faces. This is known as a win-win situation in management jargon. Yes, even the police is smiling, no doubt with the satisfaction of having done its duty. Those that were fined are smiling too, no doubt with the satisfaction of having discharged their debt to society. The State ought to be smiling too, with the money by way of fines flowing into its kitty. But something tells MMM that this last may not be happening. The offence is most likely dealt with in a spirit of ‘give and take’, with nothing being put on record.

After all, in a democracy it is discussion, debate and deliberation that delivers and not the dictatorial imposition of the law.


In Bengal, NSC Bose is a man who is still considered to be alive and well, despite seven decades going by since he vanished during the Second World War. In Chennai that was Madras, he has a thoroughfare named after him. But as the Man from Madras Musings notes, there are considerable variations in the spelling of his name when it comes to signboards as can be seen from the two adjoining pictures.

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