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

Vol. XXXII No. 5, June 16-30, 2022

Short ‘N’ Snappy

-- (Wo)MMM

Chennai once made quite the racquet

The Woman from Madras Musings fairly skipped to the living room in joy, for she was watching a very thrilling French open match with the better half. In true millennial fashion, the match was playing on OTT – a choice that turned out to be a poor one for the evening. For, fie upon the powers that be, the buffering wheel of death appeared on the screen at a nail-biting moment and refused to leave until the moment of truth had passed. (Wo)MMM was naturally left quite salty by the whole thing, which brings her to the point of this column this issue. (Wo)MMM was making rather unfair demands that the better half whisk her away to see the matches in person when the quick-witted man suddenly sat up in his seat. He reminded (Wo)MMM of recent news that revealed efforts are underway – or will be – to bring back a major league tennis tournament to the city. When that happens, (Wo)MMM will be grandly whisked away to exotic Nungambakkam, promised the better half. (Wo)MMM couldn’t help but sink into the nostalgia of the days that were.

(Wo)MMM was quite small when the Tournament came to the city – it was around the time she was learning to hold a tennis racquet herself. Deemed tiny and harmless, she was readily taken along to most of the matches in the first year and all the years that followed. It was always quite an experience, as (Wo)MMM recalls. The stadium was almost always full and the audience exuberant. We appreciated everything, you know. Applause followed great rallies & aces and cheers broke out when things of delight transpired – such as an Asian player humbly bowing to the crowd after a match, or a tournament hopeful with a pair of haute fashion tennis shoes in an eye-watering shade of yellow. We even had cheerleaders, sponsored by a luxury watch brand – on account of which, (Wo)MMM remembers, she was pleaded with to swap front row seats more often than she would have liked, though the appeal invariably came with the bribe of a chocolate or two. For some reason, the stadium became the place to be seen – it was then roughly the real-world equivalent of a prestigious page-3 article. By all accounts, the city had fallen in love with the Tournament. But our city is our city and wags are wags, and wags there will inevitably be in any large crowd – and so, the clearest memories (Wo)MMM has from those halcyon days were the players getting very annoyed with the bad apples in the crowd. The hapless tennis star would gather his focus to serve to his opponent when, more often than not, a jarring whoop would emanate from the audience precisely at the point of toss. (Wo)MMM remembers feeling sorry for the players, for they would grow visibly irked – justifiably – and throw a murderous glare in the direction of the cry. It often got so bad that the chair umpire had to make earnest entreaties for respectful silence from the crowd. For a very long time, (Wo)MMM was certain that the city lost the Tournament solely on account of these pranksters.

With the possibility that the Tournament will return to the city, (Wo)MMM wonders if this particular quirk of our audience will make a return. She hopes not, for the rest of the crowd really did love watching stellar tennis in our own backyard. We deserve to hold onto the honour.

On the social service that is directing traffic

The Woman from Madras Musings was driving by the usual route home when she spied a snaking line of cars in the distance. (Wo)MMM really did think she was doing the smart thing by ducking into an alternate route via an innocuous side road – she was patting herself on the back until she found herself caught in a gordian’s knot of vehicles at the junction to the main road. On the bright side, (Wo)MMM got to have a front-row seat at the drama which likely caused all the havoc in the first place.

(Wo)MMM peered out of the window to spot a rather excited figure standing bang in the middle of the junction. He was clearly not an official traffic policeman but seemed to be greatly enjoying his self-appointed post. He imperially directed which car or bike was to go where and how, pausing every now and then to avuncularly scold those who sought to rebel against his instructions. Strangely enough, most people seemed to not be averse to taking his guidance – after all, there was no traffic policeman in sight and tempers had grown quite heated. At one point, the poor fellow made a grave mistake in his plans – the traffic flow he effectuated ended up creating a nigh-impossible snarl between two cars flanked by autos and bikes on all sides. It was made worse by curious pedestrians pooling on the footpaths to see how the whole thing would pan out. Our good samaritan stood visibly puzzled, clearly apprehensive of the paradox he had wrought; but he gathered himself quickly enough to loudly blame a couple of vehicles parked by the roadside. After that, there was nothing for it but to scramble in search of its owners, which a couple of the interested pedestrians did quite enthusiastically. Once the harried owners appeared, things got better – the blockage was cleared and the great river of traffic resumed its treacle course. The last glimpse that (Wo)MMM got of the temporary traffic policeman was of him in a posture of visible relief – he had a hand on his hip and was mopping away the sweat on his brow with a handkerchief. (Wo)MMM doubts that he would venture again into the social service of traffic direction anytime soon.

Let there be light

The other day, The Woman from Madras Musings came across the most surreal image she has seen in recent times. It was a photograph of a lovely blue lake, carpeted here and there with pretty greenery and graced by a couple of… streetlights. It took a beat for (Wo)MMM to understand what was she looking at. Two tall metal lamp posts seemed to be growing out of the water, making for a very strange sight indeed. The article that this picture had accompanied claimed that the lights have been erected deep inside a lake in our very own city, adding that activists suspected nefarious motives for the move. (Wo)MMM was left quite amazed by the whole thing. Clearly, none in what must have been a fairly long chain of command had questioned the logic of such works – someone had to have asked for it; someone had to have studied the request and approved the budget; one or many persons had to have waded out into the water to erect the lamposts. (Wo)MMM wonders how the usual dinner conversation would have panned out that day – “My day was nice, thank you. We had to set up a few streetlights inside a lake and we did it quite well. Another helping, please.” (Wo)MMM is astonished too that none seemed to be aware of such a thing until the article came along – for the piece claims that the streetlights were installed way back in 2018.

(Wo)MMM remembers that the trending city news on social media the day the article was posted seemed to be a debate over whether a certain actor had truly cut his hair or was in fact changing wigs. Perhaps the streetlight article trended later – (Wo)MMM confesses that she is ignorant on that point. She hopes it did in some small way, at least.

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