Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXII No. 23, March 16-31, 2023
Tamil Nadu, in the considered view of The Man from Madras Musings, is the heartland of posters. And Chennai, being the capital, is the headquarters of the poster world. There are posters for just about anything – birth, death, puberty and marriage announcements, the latest issue of magazines, music and dance performances, plays, films, classified ads, shady medical treatments, real estate schemes, coaching classes, and of course the comings and goings of our political leaders. Even demolition and well-digging agencies put up posters. That the city can also win any competition on daft laudatory posters hands down is a given. MMM was left ruminating on this aspect after the recent birthday celebrations which were, er, widely celebrated to the extent of involving a camel.
In MMM’s view, mater dei was really the mother of posters. That even as mundane an event as her going to the party HQ or her office was sufficient reason for posters indicates to what extent she encouraged it. Politicians wanting to curry favour hired ghost writers to churn out captions by the minute and had them converted into kiosks, banners and posters round the clock. Given the speed at which mater dei’s convoy whizzed about it was a moot point if she noticed any of what was written. But she must have been able to see her face beaming down at her and that must have been enough. It is of course quite likely that the gradus mater (Lesser Mother) took notes on what was said and passed them on to mater dei for due consideration.
Pater familias on the other hand, no matter what his other faults be, was certainly more moderate when it came to posters. Perhaps given his scholarship in the lingua franca, his followers hesitated before putting up anything. His retribution when it came to errors in language, so MMM is informed, was severe. But nevertheless, he did nothing to curb the poster menace, which proliferated. But in more recent times it would seem that pater’s party is following the lead of the mater when it comes to posters.
Do you recall the famous birthday posters for the mater? Well, MMM does, and he wishes that he had captured a few for posterity. The problem was that MMM, like everyone else, assumed that the mater will be around forever, and her birthdays would come around each year. Who would have thought that she would go the way of grass? Well, it did happen that way and MMM having procrastinated till too late now regrets. But he was filled with delight when the recent birthday celebrations yielded a rich crop of such posters. One complimented the birthday boy for thinking about the people even when he goes on walks. Well, that is why he was elected was he not? On that note MMM must add that the national leader too is lauded for activities that you would assume were part of his daily routine. After all, nobody is going to put up a poster for MMM praising him for churning out this column each fortnight.
There were then the usual ones that lauded birthday boy as sun, moon, light, etc. There was a poster that sang the praises of his wife – (daughter-in-law of a ruler, wife of a ruler, and mother of a ruler-to-be). There was a message addressed to sister – enough of governing the world, come attend to the house – MMM wondered if this was in praise or meant otherwise. He also suspects that the powers-that-be would not have been so amused on seeing the picture that accompanied it – the lady in question seated in company of past greats at a round table, while the brother stood in an attitude of obeisance (or admiration) behind.
But the best was a couple put up by leaders from other States. One had the other regional leader commending our man as future national leader material. The other, put up by another regional party had it that our leader was hailing their leader as national leader material. And so it went on. And all this just weeks after our city’s municipal corporation resolved to combat the poster menace with fines being levied on offenders. MMM wonders as to whether the Corporation fined anyone during the recent festivities.
Of late The Man from Madras Musings has taken to the electronic medium to hold forth on what he has gleaned over several years on the city’s history. The redeeming feature of these episodes, in MMM’s view, is that they are brief – ten minutes apparently being too long in today’s world where the average attention span is that of an ant. And so MMM prepares for these accordingly but let him assure you that the stress he goes through is nothing less than what he undergoes before full-length presentations. The butterflies are in full force in the stomach on a permanent basis. The post-release phase of these videos does have its amusing moments though. There was a recent one on Avadi where MMM held forth to debunk the oft-held view that the name is an acronym for Armoured Vehicles and Ammunition Depot of India (can you imagine a country of our size having one ammunition depot?). Many lauded MMM’s efforts but a good measure of how many actually saw the episode was had from the number of comments that said Avadi was an acronym for (you guessed it) Armoured Vehicles and ….
Clearly fake news rarely dies in India.
But that was not all. There was a call from a journalist that went as follows –
Sir, I want to speak to you on history of Mount Road
MMM: Ok, what do you want to know?
That only sir, history of Mount Road
MMM: What aspects?
That only sir, history
MMM: (sigh) Have you done any reading?
Yes sir, we saw your video.
MMM in complete silence hung up. But then if there are people who assume that history can be doled out in ten-minute bits or is bytes, who is MMM to complain?
A journalist friend of The Man from Madras Musings sends this amusing snippet of information – many old buildings along a particular stretch of Virugambakkam have been demolished in order to facilitate Metrorail work. Left standing however are three structures that belong to TASMAC, the Government’s marketing arm whose sole task is to vend liquor and keep everyone on a continuous high. Ironically, a few years ago these were the very outlets that the local public wanted closed! Such is the state of our State. On that merry note, see you in the new financial year.
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