Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXIX No. 14, November 1-15, 2019
The buzz began the moment the announcement was made that the Mega Man of the Moment (MMM) was meeting his Chinese counterpart at Mamallapuram. The man from madras musings (who in deference to the other MMM will be mmm for the purposes of this column alone unless such a term is deemed objectionable by parties of either part) knew that he would soon be getting calls from journalists, especially those from other parts of India, wanting to know about the history of the place. And so he, mmm (and not MMM), girded his loins and waited.
Sure enough, he was not disappointed. The first call was from a channel up north and it wanted to know if mmm could speak in the lingua spoken up there. On getting to know he could, though not as well as MMM can, the channel expressed delight and sent its questions across. On reading them mmm realised that it was all downhill from then on. Sure enough there were plenty of other calls and since the content did not vary all that much, mmm is giving you just a sample –
Q – Don’t you agree that it is great that our PM is meeting the Chinese President at Maamlapuram/ Mumalpuran/Mammalpuram/ Mamalpur?
A – Yes (mmm could hardly say no and invite the interest of the Enforcement Directorate, could he?)
Q – We have been given to understand that the place has an ancient Chinese connection that goes back to the time of Mahendra Pallav who we have come to know entertained the scholar Hieun Tsang here. Comment?
A – Well, yes and no. You see that meeting happened not exactly at Mamallapuram but at…
Q – Sir, we have come to know that Bodhidharamji, the great monk was born here and took Kung Fu to China?
A – Have you been seeing the film 7am Arivu starring the Sun God who after acquiring the physique of a Greek God went about shirtless for quite a while?
Q – Yes sir. We want your confirmation that it is all fact.
A – Not exactly. You see…
Q – Thank you Sir. That is all and now we would like to remind our viewers that this meeting is historically significant. As confirmed by our guest Mr mmm, this was where the King Mahendra Pallav met the scholar Hieun Tsang and it was also here that the father of Kung Fu, Bodhidharamji was born.
After a while, mmm ceased speaking and merely nodded acquiescence. A little later, mmm began refusing interviews on the subject. He recommended to interviewers that they would be better off seeing the film Seventh Sense starring shirtless Sun God.
And so the great day arrived with the Mega Man of the Moment (MMM) taking the Chinese visitor around and showing him all the monuments of Mamallapuram. The man from madras musings (for the use of lower case please see explanation above) watched on TV as MMM walked around explaining to his guest with what appeared to be fluid ease all about the stone sculptures around the place. He (MMM) waved his hands, pointed hither and thither and nodded with avuncular affection at the edifices. Watching all this mmm could not help reflect on what a pleasure it must all be, to go around the monuments at a time when they are floodlit, the touts, guides and vendors have been cleared off and the place is garbage free. Casual visitors don’t have it so good. Anyway, mmm rejoiced at the good fortune that had come to Mamallapuram.
He has however since come to know that not everyone in the world of heritage in this our city has been equally happy. The buzz has it that quite a few amateurs, and that is what most heritage enthusiasts in this city including mmm are, fancied their chances of leading the PM and the Chinese President on a heritage walk down Mamallapuram way. It is reliably learnt by mmm that the concerned ministries were flooded with self-promoting testimonials of what they know, what they can do and what they propose to say. Some even included photographs of themselves apparently. All of which cut no ice for MMM had decided to act as guide himself. And so there was much gnashing of teeth. The only silver lining according to these disappointed hopefuls is that nobody else got selected either.
But even that joy was denied the world of classical dance, which as mmm very well knows is filled with hate, malice, avarice and jealousy, no matter that none of these feaure in the nine emotions that dancers love to portray on stage. Apparently, there has been much lamenting and rending of the veil over the fact that MMM had chosen the Temple of Arts for presenting a cultural programme for the benefit of the distinguished visitor. The greater fear as mmm understands is that the present High Priestess of the Temple may have impressed MMM sufficiently enough with her quiet efficiency to qualify for a lotus award. That of course will come to light only in January but in the meanwhile, other dancers are biting their nails in suspense. Hell, as is well known, hath no fury like a dancer scorned for the lotus award.
If at all delight reigns untrammelled in any section of society it happens to be in that comprising the devotees of MMM. They rejoice at the arrival of the PM, his wearing local dress (held up no doubt by a One Belt One Rope initiative), his leading the Chinese leader around and making a success of it all. This means the lotus party has as good as swept the State say the devotees. They also claim that this visit will transform yonder seaside sculpture town into a mega tourist destination. mmm is not so sure. He sincerely hopes that hordes of tourists don’t descend on the town for it has no infrastructure to handle such an influx. Entertaining two elderly men is fine but not taking on the demands of millions. And if that were to happen, our State Government may take to beautifying the place and we all know what that means don’t we?
The residents of the Old Mamallapuram Road are a relieved lot now that the informal visit by the Mega Man of the Moment and his Chinese friend are over. For almost a week all dustbins in the area were confiscated according to private laments received by the man from madras musings. Now they are all back and the garbage overflows once again. Chennai is back to its old ways.