Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVI No. 04, June 1-15, 2016
Food for the multitude
No Chief, this is not yet another article about our State’s politics. Ever since you warned The Man from Madras Musings about his tendency to write increasingly about people whose bite is worse than their bark, MMM has decided to desist. On the other hand this is about that postal district whose name you once felt ought to be that of the entire city, viz Mylapore, Chennai that was Madras, 600004.
Chances are pretty slim Chief that you would have ever heard of Silken Father, the Catering King of all TamBrahm weddings,your taste tending more towards that of the Karaikudi variety. But if you have been to TamBrahm weddings, MMM is pretty sure you would know of Silken Father – all caterers these days are measured against him. If you get Silken Father to see to the feeding of your guests at a family wedding, you have arrived in TamBrahmiana so to speak. Silken Father is very much the current rage, continuing in the lineage of others such as Mountbatten’s Bell, Victorious Rama who consorts with the Goddess of Wisdom, the Lotus Navelled One from the Mint area, and, of course, the Methuselah of them all – Six Flavoured Dancing God.
But to get back to Silken Father. Encouraged by his success in catering to weddings, sacred thread ceremonies, sixtieth and eightieth birthdays among the well heeled, he decided to open a restaurant. No doubt he imagined that the TamBrahm world, used to going around from wedding hall to hall in the season would flock to his place at all other times. The location was also ideal – close to the heartland – a verdant park where most of Mylapore goes for long walks to digest the food it has ingested in weddings. This is also where most hor(r)o(r)scopes are traded and wedding alliances fixed, thereby ensuring more contracts for Silken Father and those of his kind. And so, there it was, a gleaming and spanking new restaurant aptly named Silken Father’s Cooking or words to that effect in the local lingo.
For weeks before it opened, the world of social media was abuzz. Silken Father said messages, was going to feed everyone free of cost on day one. And sure enough, advertisements were released to that effect. This was the freebie of freebies when you consider that even the mother of all canteens was charging a nominal fee. The Mylapore world began dieting and salivating from the day the ad first appeared. And on the day of the grand opening, everyone that is someone in the area (and most of them are something, let MMM tell you) thronged the place. It was the original wedding crush, multiplied several times over.
What followed thereafter is what happens at weddings where the hosts send out invitations for say x number of guests and then find ten times that number rolling up, knife and fork in hand. Silken Father’s kitchen soon gave out. Unlike weddings the restaurant could down shutters and that was that. But the initial brouhaha ensured that crowds continued for a few more days. Food continued to run out. A swashbuckling man about town who is a close friend of MMM’s recounted as to how he struggled to get in and on placing an order for a sweet had it brought to him in a teaspoon. The friend assumed this was a sample and swallowing it in one gulp asked for the rest of the dish only to be presented with the bill. Clearly Silken Father has a Steely Grip on the till. Watch this space for more details.
Our beloved Prime Minister has shown us the way – clean your neighbourhood he has declared, broom in hand. And those who work in public sector undertakings have decided to obey. The Man from Madras Musings, (and don’t ask as to what took him there) was recently witness to such an observance.
Now, this is one of those organisations where you normally find people at their desks doing what they ought to be doing at any given point of time. In that sense, this is not one of those PSUs where officers are forever in meetings and the staff is biding time reading magazines, conducting informal chit fund schemes and speculating on the stock market. But conceive MMM’s surprise when on arrival he found stacks of new brooms and wicker baskets in the rather large entrance area. Officers were being handed out brooms even as they clocked in for the day.
As MMM went in he found several seats empty and those officers who were still seated did not have their usual expressions of welcome for MMM. That day had been declared Clean India Day, said one, and explained that it had been decided to dedicate the whole day towards cleaning up of the premises. And so it was off with people like MMM. But he hung around nevertheless, wanting to see what really happened. What about the work of the organisation, wondered MMM, but desisted asking that question. In any case MMM need not have worried, for if at all anyone had to be bothered it had to be the senior officers of the organisation and there they were, all ready to go around with mops and pans, like the chorus parading as domestic staff in an opera.
A couple of officers that MMM called on had not picked up their regulation brooms as they clocked in. The peon who brought the mid-morning tea corrected that wrong by bringing the sweeping implement along and handing it over. At around 11.00 am, everyone walked out of their offices, brooms in hand. Junior officers were lined up in groups and made to march around the campus in pairs, rather like the animals that went into Noah’s Ark. The lead pair in each contingent carried banners that featured the organisation’s logo, a message on cleaning the nation from big boss in Delhi, and then a slogan that some bright spark within the company had coined – something about how this was the second year of clean-up or some such thing. MMM felt this had a deeper message than what it was supposed to ostensibly convey, but he opted not to air his views.
The troops on parade prowled around for an hour by which time the sun was quite high up in the sky and the ardour for cleaning up, never very strong to start with, had palled considerably. Most of those who had gone walkabout with the brooms returned to the portico of the main building where the staff photographer arranged them into neat poses, all of them holding brooms and then clicked them for posterity. The immediate requirement, MMM was told, was for these pictures to make it to the in-house magazine of which a copy would be sent up north. No doubt that was in the hope that powers-that-be would take notice and send career graphs spiralling upwards. Of the actual cleaning up MMM noticed little but then these are days when appearances matter the most.
The Man from Madras Musings was in a moving vehicle and so was only able to get a partial shot but he never knew that the selling of bed linen included a considerable amount of guilt thrown in. For details see the accompanying photograph.!