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

Vol. XXIX No. 8, August 1-15, 2019

Short ‘N’ Snappy


The Tower of Babel

The Man from Madras Musings was quiet for a change. All around him a perfect Babel of voices rose and fell, each in its own cadence, pitch and punctuation. We were all standing in a newly-constructed toilet, of 4’x4’ dimension, the temperature was at an all-time high and there was dust all around. Before you run away with the idea that a group of men had met in a loo for some nefarious activity let MMM dispel such notions. This was a toilet in the new chez MMM and his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed and it was not working. A gathering of experts had been called in and discussions were in progress.

It was as MMM said earlier, something out of Babel for several native languages were heard. The marble layer was from Rajasthan, the plumber from Kerala, the supervisor a Telugu and the person who supplied the porcelain fixtures a dignified Muslim who no doubt swore into his beard in Urdu. Add a couple of labourers from Orissa and you have the complete picture. MMM’s cook, from Bihar stood respectfully at the door – it was he who had pointed out that the flush received copious amounts of water but when the lever was pulled did not give of its plenty. It was he said, in a flight of imagery that was worthy of his master, as though a giant sponge somewhere inside absorbed all the water that fell into the tunkee (as he referred to tank). Of Tamil there was none, barring MMM of course.

And that made MMM wonder. Where are our Tamil brethren? Is it really true that Tamil Nadu is so industrially developed that everyone is employed in some high-paying job thereby leaving aside all menial chores to people from other States? MMM somehow has his doubts, his view being that the bulk of the brothers are even now at some Tasmac outlet or the other, lifting their elbows ever so often. But then, if they are able to afford it or if the Government is able to make it affordable, who is MMM to complain?

Anyway, there we were, the brothers across India, unable to settle the matter of this mysterious toilet. Each blamed the other and for a moment it appeared that blood would be shed. The cook magically weighed in with tea and that calmed things down. It was decided that the marble needs to be broken open so that the flush tank, which had been buried into the wall rather in the manner of Mughal-era courtesans, could be inspected. What was not mentioned was that MMM, who had paid for the original work, would now do so for the taking apart and reassembly. Not that MMM had a choice anyway but he did reflect on how inconvenient these modern conveniences were. In the old days, the flush tank was outside and you could even lift the lid and check if there was water before you went on with your business. But now there is no way you can do that, unless you have X-ray vision of course.

The dismantling was duly done and the culprit it was discovered, was a tonne or so of white cement that had made its way into the tank. Once again everyone blamed everyone else, each in his own language. MMM suggested in the Queen’s tongue that they better get on with it. They did, and when finished it was found that someone had managed to leave a gaping hole above the commode. This it was decided, needed to be fixed with white cement, but then that meant we ran the risk of it getting into the flush tank again. The cook felt another meeting was in order. MMM has wisely decided to abstain.

Tabula Rasa

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Please don’t even imagine that The Man from Madras Musings is showing off his (non-existent) Latin skills. But then, it occurred to him that there could be no better heading for this section than that expression, which means clean slate or scraped tablet. MMM has if you recollect from the last issue of MM, been of late walking by the beach and pausing to read all the explanatory kiosks that have been fixed by the side of our statues. He has since been making progress and covering greater distances, taking in more statues as he goes along.

Even as he approached Thiruvalluvar, MMM wondered as to what could have been written. Something on his immortal kural, that wonderful compilation of maxims, all of them more or less in Twitter format maybe? Some story of his concerning the chastity of his wife? Some speculation on his actual time period and the likelihood of being a Jain? Whatever it was, MMM was not prepared for a blank kiosk, as can seen in the adjoining photograph.

It is quite amazing that this State of all places could not come up with a 100 words or so on the man for whom a statue of several hundred feet was erected off the sea at the tip of India. And what is even more surprising is that nobody has as yet noticed. It is of course quite likely that there was no consensus on what to write. Or it could be that this being a Central Government project someone from Delhi has to do the writing. In which case, why don’t they consult Young Victor of Saffron Party who till not so long ago was perpetually spouting Thiruvalluvar to those in the cow belt? He is of course not so popular here ever since he said that the white skins of cow belt tolerate us people in the south despite our dark complexions but surely his knowledge cannot be allowed to go waste.


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There is clearly no standardisation when it comes to the word crescent, at least as far as our signboards are concerned. The Man from Madras Musings presents both options – one where the silent letters are omitted and the other where they thought crescent was the adjective of crease.

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