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Vol. XXX No. 7, August 1-15, 2020

A Hail to the Chief

by Ranjitha Ashok

Chief, it’s time to unleash that rumbling laugh. You won’t believe what tumbled into the Madras Musings inbox a few days ago. An email kicking off with the words: ‘Hey Muthiah’!

That’s right. Talk about being a bit behind on the news, just a tad dodgy on facts. But first, let’s address the manner of …er…addressing.

Absolutely feisty and cheerful, no question, but for a second, a certain hilarious image appears before you – of Asterix and Obelix at the Circus, greeting none other than Julius Caesar himself with a cheekily friendly ‘Hi Julius, old boy’. Also, you can’t help but wonder how many decades it has been since anyone in our fair city had the temerity to call out to the Chief like that.

And now the content. This well-meaning email was dripping with technical what-have-you-s, promising success in both digital and print spaces, which apparently is the earnest wish of all right-thinking publishers. Imagine, if you will, the Chief coming face to face with this full-of-effervescent-enthusiasm, filled-to-the-brim-with-great-ideas go-getter, determined to make a huge tech-riddled splash in the world of publishing, taking the Chief along with him in the process. The Chief. Who scoffed at anyone who used voice recorders, as anyone who worked for him will recall. And often referred to computers, keyboards and later, smart phones, as ‘those things all of you use.’ Chief, can’t help thinking that if you had seen this spectacularly erroneously addressed letter, full of tech-jargon to boot, you would have merely pointed a finger at the ‘Delete’ button, and the silent order to expunge this piece would have been hastily carried out at once.

Isn’t this typical of the times? Mass-produced letters dashed off to a million recipients in a split second, with an almost naively touching assumption that using a personal name will win customers, while completely ignoring the fact that a name automatically implies a person, with a story, and one that is subject to that trickster, Time.

So there’s your laugh for today, Chief. Will sign off now.
Until next time,

Ranjitha Ashok

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