Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXIX No. 7, July 16-31, 2019
It has been quite a while since The Man from Madras Musings sauntered down the sidewalk by the Marina. Now, circumstances have so arranged themselves that he can do that on practically any day he wants and MMM has begun to do just that, enjoying himself thoroughly in the process. What a fine prospect the beach is, to be sure, where everything pleases but only man is vile.
Mind you, it is not just fellow humankind that MMM has complaints about. The bovine population is also rather high. MMM does not dispute their right to the footpath either, and would be the first person to give right of way. It is only when they begin walking behind MMM that he becomes all nervous and has a tendency of speeding up. Unlike most other people, MMM can take any number of stray dogs in his stride. He looks upon them as the idle wind which he respects not, as the poet someone or the other said. But when it comes to cows, and more importantly buffaloes and bulls, he is all caution. Unlike dogs, they do not bark or give any prior warning as to when they propose to charge. And there is no way of predicting why they charge either. Like the Jallikattu protests, they just happen.
Another objection that MMM has to the bovine is their habit of doing their ablutions (as they are referred to in old Chennai speak) out in the open and leaving their output behind on the footpath. What with the Marina being lined with polished granite, the presence of dung makes for deadly consequences. But here again, MMM will forgive the bovine and for that matter, the canine, the caprine and the equine, all of whom apparently view the Marina as their favourite toilet spot. But what excuse does humankind have to add to the collection of excrement especially when such large public latrines have been built on the sands for it to literally cavort in?
Unlike the humans on the beach however, the cattle have a great traffic sense and much discipline. Each morning, having completed their business on the sands or on the sidewalk, they cross the beach road in single file. MMM is informed that they do collide frequently, especially when it is dark, with pedestrians and cyclists, but MMM would blame the two-legged rather than the four for such incidents.
And then what of the avian variety? Feeding pigeons appears to have become more a menace than an act of kindness. How then is MMM to explain the phenomenon of dozens of men and women, all of a certain regulation outsize, wheezing down the walkway laden with bags of grain? They scatter these left, right and centre and MMM may not be wrong in assuming that the Marina has more leftover grain on it than sand. The birds descend in vast clouds and fly around repeatedly. All very pretty no doubt. We have not yet had an incident of a pack of birds making away with a human but then you can never put it past these winged creatures. Remember the old tale when they hoodwinked a hunter by flying away with his net?
Is that all they could think of? And if he used non-violence, he clearly discouraged violence. Then why repeat it?
There is something so innocent about this text, just like a third standard student’s essay.
The Man from Madras Musings also notes that there has been a considerable effort on the part of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India (the State counterpart in MMM’s view does nothing) to put explanatory notes on the various statues dotting the beach. These are on handsomely designed kiosks, with the front having the text in Tamil and the rear in English. There is of course no standardisation by way of positioning of the kiosks and most are at all odd angles and often behind trees and bushes, thereby necessitating your being a yogic expert to be able to read all that is written. And that is where MMM has his principal objection, for much of the text appears to have been cribbed from a junior school primer.
When you write about historic personalities, you begin by stating their time period. Not so here, and no kiosk, not even that of the Father of the Nation has dates. This is surprising for the granite pedestals of each of the statues carries the details and even the most cursory searches on the Internet, from which most of India gets its history and historians these days, would have revealed the same data. As for the biographical details, they are the most pedantic and have in some cases left out some of the most significant contributions of the person. The text for Kamaraj has no mention of his contribution to making Tamil Nadu an industrialised State. It on the other hand highlights that he was known as the Kingmaker in Indian politics during the 1960s! The most significant detail about the Lighthouse is that it has an elevator! MMM provides alongside some of the kiosks so that you can read them and get an idea.