Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXII No. 7, July 16-31, 2022
The Woman from Madras Musings – like everyone else, she is sure – delights in sending and receiving surprise packages, so the family is quite used to the parade of couriers arriving in her name. The items are usually collected and kept aside for (Wo)MMM with nary a question. The last parcel she received, however, was occasion for a brief bout of entertaining drama.
It all started with a chance acquaintance. (Wo)MMM had the honour and pleasure of being introduced to a leading diabetologist in the city, for the gentleman was interested in learning more about a Tamil book that (Wo)MMM was helping translate. Though the conversation was short and pithy, the good doctor offered at the end of it to send (Wo)MMM a few books he had authored. (Wo)MMM was grateful for the gesture, of course – new books are always welcome in her bookshelf – and shared her shipping address as requested. She had forgotten all about that particular exchange when a rather alarmed better half burst into her room a few days later, brows furrowed & hands on hips. Why, he demanded testily, is my family convinced you have sugar? (Wo)MMM blinked. It took a while to understand that by sugar, the better half had meant diabetes; the revelation, however, did little to clear the confusion at hand. It was only when he explained that she had received a courier from a top diabetes clinic in the city that (Wo)MMM began to unravel the comedy of errors that had taken place.
It turned out that the good doctor had been quite prompt in keeping his word. The very next day following our conversation, a big package had arrived at home addressed to (Wo)MMM and grandly stamped with the name of his rather famous diabetes clinic – the gentleman had evidently arranged for the books to be packed and delivered from his workplace. The hapless souls at home were unaware of the background story, of course – all they saw was that (Wo)MMM had received a frighteningly large, bulky package from a diabetes clinic in the city. The better half said that the family had convened hurriedly to discuss this strange development. Raging debates had reportedly ensued over the next few days about whether (Wo)MMM could have diabetes; if she did, how far along it could be; whether the package contained medication; would it be ethical to open it without her, and so on and so forth. It was whilst they were comforting themselves about her prudent choice of doctor that the better half had stumbled into the astonishing conversation and had raced to confront (Wo)MMM in her room.
It was a grinning (Wo)MMM that entered the living room, where she saw the family gathered in a solemn circle; it was quite plain that they wanted to see her open the strange package and see for themselves what was inside. They looked on suspiciously as the strings were undone and the parcel opened – a task that (Wo)MMM took longer than necessary for, so priceless were the expressions on their faces. And so it came to be that none were more thrilled than they to see that the package contained books and not diabetes medication. To (Wo)MMM’s own delight, each copy even carried a personal note and autograph from the good doctor too. The oldest (and consequently the most coddled) among us – the grand mater – fairly pounced onto the phone, crowing with joy to a mysterious person at the other end, ‘She doesn’t have diabetes, she has books!’ Which, when put like that, does sound like a rather good deal.
The Woman from Madras Musings is hardly ever sure of herself – for the most part, she navigates a haze of uncertainty, second guesses and double-checks, a quality that she has come to rather appreciate given the surprising number of people who are combatively self-assured on all things mundane and spiritual. (Wo)MMM feels that the social media tale she is about to tell you is tangentially relevant to the long-winded prologue above – but in deference to the virtue of dubiety, she invites you to make up your own minds.
It all started when a user – later revealed to be an office-bearer in the student wing of a political party – joyously tweeted a picture of a plateful of beef. It was honestly a rather quiet tweet until the official handle of the city police posted a response commenting that it was an ‘irrelevant’ tweet on the platform. Would it surprise you to learn that it invited a prompt backlash? Users were indignant at what they perceived to be censorship – and there admittedly is such an argument to be made, there – and quite rudely surprised that it was none but the official city police account that had published such a post. Many chided the official account for their stance while a few responded with pictures of their favourite beef dish. The official city police handle was quick to react to the pushback – a carefully worded explanation ensued, revealing that they had mistaken the post to have been made on their official page and had responded to the user’s own tweet by accident.
And so the matter quickly came to a harmless enough end. Photos of beautiful beef dishes continued to pop up now and then though, to the consternation of a few vocal users who felt the images were an affront to their faith. That was where (Wo)MMM felt lost in the whole thing. It is beyond understanding how personal belief – an asset that in her experience only helps broaden the mind and paves the way to more learning – has suddenly turned into a sort of privilege that everyone else must tiptoe around in these politically correct times. That a picture of beef can assume portentous social significance should make us all sit back and think of what we’ve built. (Wo)MMM wonders if the world wouldn’t be a better place with a little more diffidence all around.
The tennis courts that the Woman from Madras Musings frequents lie on rather beautiful grounds. Above is an unbroken, wide expanse of sky that prettily changes colours as late afternoon passes into evening; a river accompanied by a strip of lush greenery nearby is home to all sorts of lovely birds, great flocks of which take flight now and then to soar through the blue skies. As you can see, (Wo)MMM is not the most focused on her game at these particular tennis courts – she finds that the pretty sights unfolding in the sky are often hard to resist. And so, when a sudden flash of incandescent light tore upwards through the skies one fine evening, (Wo)MMM couldn’t help but stop her game to gape at it. It was obvious that this was no ordinary light or simple firework – the majestic blaze was streaking rapidly through the sky, leaving behind a surprisingly fluffy white trail.
It was whilst she was contemplating the astonishing sight that (Wo)MMM deftly caught a tennis ball with her head, prompting all and sundry to scold her absent-mindedness. But they caught sight of the trail in the sky too, soon enough; it wasn’t long before everyone’s eyes were on the light, now fast disappearing into the clouds overhead. It took a while for play to resume, a friendly doubles game that (Wo)MMM is happy to report that she managed to win thanks to her partner.
(Wo)MMM turned out to be right, after all – she later learned that what they had seen blazing through the blue Chennai skies was a PSLV launch from Sriharikota!