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

Vol. XXXII No. 8, August 1-15, 2022

Short ‘N’ Snappy

-- MMM

How to get a copy of MMM’s book

The task dragged on for over four years but The Man from Madras Musings eventually got it done. He alludes to a book he did on the city of Madras that is Chennai. It was received well and with that MMM has moved on to other things. But he did learn quite a bit on consumer behaviour, something that he had not learnt while at B School.

Very many people were quite happy to spend money and buy the book. MMM was quite touched, as he did not expect such a favourable response – he is the kind that fights shy of the hard sell (you know the variety of author who lugs around copies of their book to every location possible, or asks everyone they meet if they have purchased a copy much to the other person’s embarrassment) and also something of a pessimist when it comes to book sales. Consequently MMM was, as he said before, quite touched when people bought the book, read it, and sent in their comments, appreciations and criticisms. To these MMM expresses a huge thanks.

But there were others. And these were an amazing lot. The first was the kind that regularly called MMM to say that his books were not available at their regular bookshops. And MMM in all his innocence sent them the list of places where the book was available, not once but twice and probably several times over. There was no response after that, but some did get back asking if they could order the book online. This too MMM responded to, in the affirmative, with details, after which there was the dead silence once again. It was only when some of the people called or messaged asking where they could get the book all over again, this after having received the earlier details, that it struck MMM that there was something deeper afoot. He replied to these people that he, MMM, had some copies for sale and they could always drop in at his office and buy the book. This usually ensured that all correspondence ceased thereafter, as they used to publish in newspapers when letters to the editor on a particular topic had gone on for long.

But all of this was nothing compared to a caller over the phone. He informed MMM’s secretary that he was from one of the country’s law enforcement agencies and could he please have a word with MMM. The good woman naturally assumed the worst and gave the caller MMM’s cell number, her voice trembling with agitation. Even MMM, it must be said here, was taken aback for a minute when he got the call though he must add here that his life is entirely above board and an open book. There is nothing in it for him to flee to a tax haven or a European nation at short notice. But then you know how it is when someone from a law enforcement agency calls.

The caller was one of those hearty laughers. After introducing himself as a poohbah from one of those law enforcement agencies he guffawed heartily and went on to assure MMM that he was not calling in his professional capacity. He wanted a copy of MMM’s book he said and also added that he could not find it anywhere. All bookshops said the title had sold out. MMM was flattered. He courteously said that he would whatsapp to the caller the link from where it could be ordered online. The caller was not pleased – he said he needed the book the next day as he was going somewhere on a raid or some such thing and no doubt wanted to read it while others in his pack were searching cupboards and peering into mattresses. MMM said that should not be a problem as the delivery could be made in a day. The man was even less pleased and then rung off. From what MMM knows, he never ordered the book and he has not called MMM back either. No doubt he must have by now opened a dossier on MMM. What a dull book that would be!

A Pen for the Pater

It is a sign of the times and the low ebb that the city aesthetics movement finds itself in that the latest news item on a memorial in the sea for pater familias went by without a comment. The Man from Madras Musings was quite appalled to read that the Risen Son has decided to honour daddy dearest with a memorial in the sea no less, to be accessed via a bridge from the other memorials that now dot the beach. The proposed monument will be in the form of a floating pen on a platform in the waters, no doubt in honour of the late leader’s felicity with the pen. The proposed memorial it is understood, will be the largest of the various monuments and statues that our country has begun to specialise in. In fact you can hardly get by without one state or the centre announcing the putting up of yet another giant statue.

MMM wonders as to the purpose behind the whole exercise, apart from political propaganda and re-establishment of dynastic succession of course. And it is a point scored against mater dei whose memorial after all huddles with all the others on land. For that matter pater also got space just alongside but now it is clear bigger plans are afoot to memorialise the old man. MMM can hardly help smiling at the fact that from a policy of iconoclasm our leaders have become believers in idolatry. There is of course one important consolation. – given that the all-powerful leader in the centre is a firm believer in idols and giant statues, getting permission from there for this memorial will not be all that much of problem. In which case, relations will mend between state and centre, which is not a bad thing after all.

However, in politics we can never be certain. MMM is quite sure that a floating memorial on our cyclone-prone coast is not such a good idea environmentally and that there will be objections to it. But you can never tell – for all you know even before we know it, a pen may rise from the sea just as the sun rises on the same coast.

Chess as a Theme

The Man for Madras Musings is all for chess being celebrated in the city – after all, this is the capital for the game as far as this country is concerned. The painting of the Napier Bridge in chess colours has been a big hit with selfie-takers and other photographers though MMM is not so sure whether it is a good idea to lie down on the road to get a proper angle even while traffic is hurtling down. The end result may well be a photograph in the obituary columns the next day. The chess mascot is rather nice though he does seem inspired by Gulliver’s Travels to the land of the Houyhnhhnm – that tribe of people who had horse faces. The roadside kiosks with the horseman in a dhoti is a little scary especially when it becomes dark – it seems quite lifelike.

But overall all of it is part of the Chess Olympiad experience and full marks to those who came up with all this creativity. MMM only hopes that after the Olympiad is done, the checks will be taken off Napier’s Bridge – a social worker has drawn attention to how the design can cause havoc for those with vision problems. It is also to be hoped that the horsemen kiosks will be taken down – in our city that is usually never the case and they will stay till wind, weather and rain wear them down.

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