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

Vol. XXVIII No. 19, January 16-31, 2019

Short ‘N’ Snappy

Out with the plastics

And so, the much-awaited deadline has come – the Man from Madras Musings alludes to the State Government’s decision to ban plastic, especially the use of non-biodegradable carry bags. The powers-that-be, in keeping with their powers have taken a lofty decision and left those down the line, namely the lower orders, to take care of the nitty-gritty involved in implementing such a step. Mind you, MMM is not complaining about the decision. He agrees with the powers-that-be that we need to gift a plastic-free State to our future generations (those by the way are not MMM’s words but the Government’s). All very well no doubt, but what is to be done hereafter?

The Government is going about it in the exact way that you would expect Governments to. Teams of ‘implementers of plastic ban’ have begun calling on shops and establishments. These visits are in reality raids and spot fines of Rs 10,000 and one-time warnings are being issued. What thereafter? Those visited, raided, fined and warned are expected to be plastic-free from then on, failing which the consequences can be dire. From now on, MMM expects this raiding of establishments that use plastic to be a continuous activity for Government authorities. It will become one more of those news items that can be bracketed with raids on illegal bars, restaurants that sell adulterated food and, of course, what are euphemistically known as establishments of ill repute.

In MMM’s view the Government has turned a blind eye to several aspects that it ought to have – what is to be done to products that necessarily come wrapped in plastic – white goods, computer hardware, etc? Will these need to switch to banana leaves? Has the Government gone off plastic? If so how do you explain the hundreds of water bottles that are placed on the tables at every Government meeting, not to speak of political meetings where such bottles are the norm? What of plastic-wrapped bunting that are stretched from one end of a street to the other each time a leader comes calling? What about the thousands of laminated photographs of dear departed leaders that are sold to the party-faithful and which they carry about in their translucent shirts? Do all these things go off too? And now, on the same lines as the ‘success’ of the plastic ban, will we soon see a garbage ban as well? After all, with a plastic ban, we must be left with just biodegradable waste, which we should be able to process within our homes.

It is also a matter of concern to MMM that we in Tamil Nadu may be robbing our cattle population of what is a major constituent of their diet. That the average Chennai cow is partial to plastic is well known. What will happen to these animals if plastics vanish off the face of the earth? The annihilation of the cow is bound to be a certainty thereafter. Will the ruler in the distant north not be offended on coming to know of this? After all, he has worked tirelessly to provide his bovine buddies much comfort in the last four years. Will his wrath not descend on his B-team here?

MMM had better close his story here. As in any household, his too has hoarded plastic bags for years. He does not want to be fined. The next few days will see MMM ponder over what is to be done. It is rather ironic that MMM who coasted through demonetisation with nary a care, is concerned at the thought of de-plasticisation.

Saving lecdem

The December Music Season has just come to a conclusion and The Man from Madras Musings is still recovering from his exertions during that fortnight of melody. He attended numerous concerts and many lecture demonstrations, or lecdems as they are better known. And in the latter category, he did come across some common features. He now sets them down for posterity and also for the benefit of those who will lecdem in future and opt not to become lecdemons.

1.Even though the time limit for a lecdem is specified in advance, most speakers assume that they have an endless time frame at their disposal.

2.The first fifteen valuable minutes are usually spent in thanking everyone from the President of the organisation that is conducting the lecdem to the taxi driver who brought the speaker to the venue. Nothing wrong in this but a couple of minutes may be more appropriate.

3.Whining every five minutes that the time given is too short for such a vast subject and that doing a presentation like this is akin to storing the ocean in a vat is a futile exercise. In MMM’s view, if this statement and its variants are cut out of a presentation, at least 15 minutes can be saved.

4.Wandering off into the most irrelevant side stories, such as the favourite culinary preparation of the artiste being spoken about or the way he/she (artiste) recognised the talent of him/her (speaker) at the ‘tender age of four’ may best be avoided.

5. Coming a day or even an hour earlier than scheduled time to check if the speaker’s laptop is compatible with the venue’s projection equipment will really help. This being an art form where the speakers are largely geriatric, getting someone younger to manage the laptop is advisable. This will eliminate large chunks of time being wasted once the presentation has begun in fiddling with various leads and connectors in the vain hope that the devil in the projector will become friends with the imp in the laptop. This will also eliminate that other presentation-killer – a diatribe on how complicated all technology is and how it was all so simple in their olden days.

6. Not recognising various prominent members of the audience and seeking their blessings as a prelude to the presentation is really a virtue in MMM’s view but that is of course not in keeping with good old Tamil tradition. Avoiding this can cut the presentation time as well.

7.This may be blasphemous, but MMM is of the view that a prayer by the speaker is wholly unnecessary especially if the organisation has had a prayer sung by someone else to kick off the proceedings. Several however will insist on singing chapter and verse to invoke the Gods once again.

In listing these points MMM is hoping that lecdemmers really wish to improve their timekeeping skills. Of course, it may well be that they really don’t want to do that and would much prefer to waste time for that may cover up for lack of content. In that case there is very little to be done.


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