Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXIX No. 9, August 16-31, 2019
The Man from Madras Musings is well aware that he is laying himself open to attacks of every kind. In particular he knows full well that the first comment would be on whether MMM would ever dare to write in this vein had this been a festival of a minority community. To that MMM has only this to say – he is entitled to comment precisely because he is a member of the majority community. And from what little he has seen of other religions in the country, most events of this kind degenerate into the same kind of chaos as this one. Religion has very little to do with it. It is the nature of the devotees and that is much the same across all faiths.
MMM is alluding to the emergence of the idol of the Lord from the tank in nearby Kanchipuram and the hysteria it has generated. All over the city MMM sees the public divided into two kinds – BC, Before Crush and AD, After Darshan. The BC gang is forever plotting to get hold of a VVIP pass. The AD group, rather in the manner of big-game hunters and some anglers, keeps boasting on how it managed its darshan within minutes and with none of the crush that is being reported in the newspapers. MMM’s point is this – if everyone made it through so easily, then why is it that there are persistent reports about how bad the whole process was? Are these rumours being spread by anti-nationals in today’s parlance?
To investigate this was MMM’s mission and he spoke to a few trusted friends who did make it and survived to tell the tale. Near death experience was the term used by a lady who went in the most exalted category pass. According to her, while the waiting time was not too long, which was not surprising considering that her King and Chief is a VIP, complete chaos reigned inside the venue and there was so much jostling about that she thought she was en route to seeing God in paradise itself. Yet another lady friend went and half way into the queue had a panic attack and needed to be escorted out. After having calmed herself down she braved it again, this time with better results. There were others who informed MMM with wonder about terminally pregnant women and mothers with babes in arms who were pushing and jostling their way in. MMM can only wonder at the faith that moves these people.
Rather akin to school admissions, the hunt is on among the BC for VIPs they could cajole into parting with passes. A High Court judge or an IAS officer will be of help, a Minister would be even better. To know a Police Officer at the venue means a sure entry, though an exit is not guaranteed. Being acquainted with a temple priest is a passport to success. There is also a hunt for aged relatives of all kinds. Apparently if you escort the elderly, you can get in quite easily and come out in record time as well. MMM knows of a centenarian of whose age the family has made full use, taking the person along just to ensure darshan.
The latest trend is to go back there again, this time to see the Lord in standing posture, He having been recumbent for so many days. That means there will be double the present crowds – those that missed the recumbent posture and those that have come back to see the Lord standing up.
In all this MMM is quite sure that the feelings of the Lord have not been taken into consideration. Seeing all this commotion MMM will not be surprised if He is looking forward to getting back into the tank.
Madras Week is back again and each year The Man from Madras Musings finds he is asked the same questions in interview after interview. This has resulted in MMM getting increasingly bored with the answers and he therefore has decided to compile the questions that he would like to avoid for all time to come:
1. Don’t you think you must lead a campaign to get the city renamed Madras? – No MMM does not intend wasting his time on anything like that. If the name has changed so be it.
2. Did Pacchayappa Mudaliar bathe in the Cooum? – Not having been close enough to the old man to hand him his towel when he emerged in the all together from the waters, MMM does not know.
3. Why can we not get back to the good old British days when there was boating on the Cooum? First of all there were no “good old British days” and secondly, there was never any boating on the Cooum until a post-Independence Chief Minister introduced it.
4. What do you think of Madras Bhashai sir? You really want MMM to answer, and if so, can MMM do so by addressing you in some choice Madras Bhashai swear words please?
5. Why was the Long Tank filled to form T Nagar? Considering that it happened a few decades before MMM was born, he has nothing to say.
6. Was Kodambakkam really named Ghoda Baugh after the Nawab’s horse stables? No it wasn’t and before you ask let MMM assure you that Nungambakkam is not from Nunga Baugh and therefore from the Nawab’s Nudist Colony.
7. Is it true that Chetpet is named after Namberumal Chetty? Yes sure, only it took on that name around 150 years before the man was born. In the same vein, Avadi is not an acronym for Armoured Vehicles and Defence Industries, as the name figures in records from the 1860s at least, long before armoured vehicles were used.
8. And so this is Madras’ 380th birthday? (Yes, yes from Raj apologists and No, no from the others) – Well it is a yes and a no. It is 380 for the colonial city but that is nothing when compared to the age of some the villages that got absorbed into it.
9. People are saying there is no historic basis for 22nd August being declared Madras Day. Comment? Yes sure they are correct. But they don’t appear to object to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Friendship Day etc on the basis of the same logic. Why not Madras Day?
And so, until next Madras Week…