Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXI No. 13, October 16-31, 2021
These are days when anything and everything can be ordered off the internet. Indeed, the Government positively encourages us to do so, as part of its fight against Covid. The Man from Madras Musings, to whom the Government’s word is law, has toed this line and he finds the experience quite pleasurable – no trudging around carrying bags, no wandering aimlessly in aisles as MMM’s good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed (SWMBO) makes up her mind on the numerous necessities that go to make chez MMM & SWMBO habitable, and above all no waiting at counters as the person in charge struggles with the teller no matter how electronic it is. On the last named MMM must add here that all departmental stores in Chennai have a resident anna or akka who is the expert on the teller. This person usually remains hidden somewhere deep in the caverns of the store and emerges only when called for in a hysterical screech. Compared to the nervous counter person this anna/akka is sang froid personified and sets right whatever is troubling the billing system within a few seconds.
Glory be to the akka-s/anna-s of the supermarkets.
But then as it has happened with countless empires, there comes a time of decline and so it has happened with these brothers and sisters of emporia. They have been replaced in importance by the delivery boys – the ones who in response to the e-orders we generate from the comfort of our homes sally forth to deliver what we want. These are now the new saviours and may their tribe increase.
MMM however has only one complaint. They seem completely incapable of reading addresses for delivery instructions. It would appear that on being asked to go forth and deliver they simply note the locality of the destination and set out. And after that they begin an incessant round of calling the recipient, until he or she answers the phone that is.
MMM has become a veteran in responding to such summons and the conversation goes like this –
Delivery boy: “Sir! There is a package for you.”
MMM: “Yes pls, and what do you want?”
DB: “Your address sir.”
MMM: “You already have it. I typed it out when I placed the order.”
DB: “Yes sir. But can you tell me what your address is?”
MMM: “I just told you that you already have it. Do you want me to repeat it for you?”
DB – “No sir,” (in a drawl that seems to suggest that he or she is humouring some half wit)“But can you tell me where exactly it is?”
MMM: “You have no map?”
DB: “Yes sir. And I am now in your locality.”
MMM: “Does the address I gave you not mention the street where I live?”
DB: “Yes it does. I just want to know where exactly it is.”
MMM: “Where are you now?”
DB: “On my way to your locality sir.”
MMM: “But you said you were already here.”
DB – “Map says half an hour away sir.”
MMM: “Then call me when you are five minutes away.”
After half an hour the person is back to calling – he is now in the locality but needs to know the street, which incidentally is already given in the address. And after a conversation similar to the one given above, the search or hunt zeroes in on the house number which given the old/new (or is it new/old?) convention/confusion, necessitates yet another guided tour. Finally, with the package firmly in hand and the signatures having been done, MMM ponders as to whether it would not have been easier for him to just drive across and pick up the package himself. But that would involve dealing with fumbling counterperson and the rest of it.
Ever since The Man from Madras Musings began writing on heritage, he has observed that there is no lack of people who call, lament, shout, and curse that nobody cares for heritage. Ask them as to what they propose to do after that and they withdraw silently. With the proliferation of social media these armchair enthusiasts have only increased in number. The most recent instance of this was a caller from Coimbatore who said he had been seeing what MMM has been doing on video for Chennai and would so love to have a similar one on his city, which he said was full of heritage, all going to the dogs. MMM said that this was a great idea and wished the caller all the best in his endeavour to record for posterity the history of that industrial city. There was a long silence at the other end. MMM thought the man had hung up. And then there was a clearing of the throat. The caller then piped up that he was actually wanting MMM to do the needful so that he, the caller, could enjoy watching the video. MMM hung up.
It is of course a speciality of all Governments, running as they do on politics, to present the possible and The Man from Madras Musings guesses that our’s is not much different. Why else would it put up a signboard just in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue to explain in image and words that we are standing in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue? On that happy note, MMM wishes you a lovely festive season.