Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVIII No. 9, August 16-31, 2018
Last fortnight’s happenings, especially the pronouncements of celebrities after they called on an ailing leader of the State, the comings and goings and sloganeering would have all ideally given much grist to this column’s mill. But The Man from Madras Musings does not wish to dwell on that. What he on the other hand does wish to comment about is the extraordinary behaviour of our State Government, such as it is.
Tweedledum, he of the duo that now rules, the other half being Tweedledee, has in MMM‘s view come away from the controversy with sufficient egg on his face to qualify as a one man hatchery. The purpose and logic behind denying the Old Man a resting place on the Marina simply evade MMM. Mind you, MMM is against memorials of all kinds, and even more against the usage of the Marina for this purpose. But in this case, given that the Tweedledum/Tweedledee Government had just a couple of years ago laid their leader to rest in the same place, why deny the leader of the rival party the same privilege? It would have been far more gracious to allow the burial to happen there without the matter being eventually decided by a court of law.
There is one positive aspect to the matter – neither party has taken over additional land from the Marina for the burial spots of the two late lamented leaders. Each has been forked out space from the memorials of their respective mentors. That has at least put to rest the fear that in centuries to come the beach may just become a Golgotha of sorts. The corresponding negative is that we will have to suffer four memorials where there were initially two, all constructed in styles completely alien to local forms. The two existing memorials are grotesque to say the least, one like something from Paris and the other defying all description, complete with a rearing winged horse that looks as though it flew down from Athens. The plans released a couple of months ago for the memorial of the leader of Tweedledum/Tweedledee party too had all kinds of strange features. The new one, as and when it is planned, will not be much different.
But to get back to the original act of refusal, MMM notices that Tweedledee and other lesser tweedles in the Cabinet distanced themselves very cleverly from the decision, claiming that Tweedledum had taken it by himself, without consulting any of them, thereby leaving him to face all the flak. MMM supposes that this is what politics is all about. Even more interesting was the behaviour of the lawyers who had filed petitions in the court against the laying to rest of the leader of the Tweedledum/Tweedledee party at the Marina. The moment they realised that the arguments they had proffered against the burial (coastal regulation zone, environment, etc), could be used against the proposed interment of their leader, they withdrew all their cases. Environment, CRZ, etc be damned. What mattered was that the recently deceased leader had to get space there. To MMM it just went to show that many of these cases were politically motivated and not guided by any sense of altruism.
Be that as it may, MMM is happy for the recently departed – he would have wanted space on the Marina and he has got it. As for the larger principles that get affected, we gave those the go-by a long time ago, did we not? What does one more memorial matter?
One last word – the State Government, or Tweedledum, put forward an argument that the Marina was meant for Chief Ministers who pass away while in harness. If that were to be mandated for the future, MMM will hereafter pray fervently that all CMs of our State live long and lead a happy life in retirement.
The Man from Madras Musings has a car, produced by the American company that has manufacturing facilities near our city. To him, a vehicle is just something that takes you from place to place and he does not waste time in debating suspensions, transmissions, and whatever else that automobile enthusiasts agonise over. He also, it must be admitted, does not look too much into mileage, not because he is well stashed with money, but because in his view, driving around in our city is not conducive to fuel efficiency of any kind.
But let us pigeonhole all that for the nonce. What MMM writes about is the levels of service that our vehicle manufacturers have attained. There was a time when our country had three carmakers and each took at least four years to deliver after you placed your order. MMM still remembers an anecdote wherein a senior corporate executive from our city had his vehicle delivered to him from the manufacturer in the eastern side of our country, after the obligatory wait of 48 months. He was shocked to find a dead lizard stuck on the bonnet and what’s more, the vehicle had been spray painted with the animal on it. Scraping it off would mean getting the paint scratched. So he wrote to the manufacturer who very kindly offered to take the car back but cautioned that a new vehicle would take another 48 months. So our man retained the car and drove it around, lizard and all. He eventually became quite attached to the animal and it gave him no trouble.
Contrast that with the present. MMM had his vehicle sent over for its annual service and received a call shortly thereafter asking in very obsequious terms as to whether he had any specific complaint. On his replying in the negative the voice at the other end sighed in relief and profusely thanked MMM. The car was sent back after treatment which no doubt included a massage and a shampoo, together with an invoice whose value would have got MMM a new car in the lizard era. MMM paid up without a murmur. A couple of days later came a call from the dealer who had sold the car to MMM, asking if he was happy with the service done. MMM assured the caller that all was well. Three days later came a call from the sales office of the manufacturer asking MMM if all was well. This time MMM was a little brusque and said that he had already received a call enquiring to this effect and so could he please be left alone? The voice apologised and said that must have been the dealer while this was a call from the manufacturer. Four days later came a call asking if all was well. When MMM replied that he had already gone through this exercise, the caller apologised and said he was from the call-centre in Delhi and had no connection with the earlier ones. MMM banged down the receiver. He is now bracing himself for a call from the United States of America. MMM is also now worried if there is something wrong with his car that these callers know of but are not wanting to share with him. He better check it for lizards.