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Vol. XXXIII No. 1, April 16-30, 2023

Short ‘N’ Snappy


The Selfie Story

It was a dark and stormy night. No, correct that, for whatever may be the faults of this column let it not be said that The Man from Madras Musings exaggerates. Anyway, it was night, and MMM’s good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, was at an airport, eager to board the flight and return to this other Eden aka Madras that is Chennai. The flight was delayed, and she was sleepy. Barely managing to keep awake till boarding was announced, she crawled into her seat and shut her eyes. But she was aware of quite some activity in the vicinity. Waking briefly, she saw that all attention was centred on her neighbour, a man of imposing aspect and with a beaky nose to boot. Every passenger was pausing to stare and some even offered their greetings which the man accepted with grace and acknowledged. Evidently someone important felt She, before falling fast asleep.

The flight landed and the usual stampede to get to the exit, which is a part of our country’s dharma began. But it was tempered somewhat, for half the passengers were clustering around MMM’s good lady’s seat in order to get a selfie with her neighbour and he too was gamely obliging. MMM’s good lady had no idea who the man was but decided that she too had better get a selfie with him. She asked if it was all right and on getting his assent obtained one. Having eventually come home she announced to MMM that she had been seated next to one of South India’s most prominent character actors, a man who had initially portrayed negative roles, and had taken a selfie with him. MMM asked to see the pic and on being showed the same discovered that this was someone else entirely. This was a fortuitous discovery for the good lady was just about to publicise the pic on social media, tagging the wrong actor entirely and would have done so had MMM not stopped her on time.

The bigger issue however remained unresolved, namely the identity of the celebrity. MMM was convinced that just like his good lady, everyone else on the flight had mistaken this man to be the famed character actor with whom he had more than a passing resemblance. They had all taken selfies with a man who was simply playing along said MMM. His good lady however remained unconvinced. Finally, she decided to take the help of someone more au courant with film matters and then the penny dropped – this was indeed a well-known actor who transcends two regions – Tolly and Kollywoods with ease and who was best known for a film in Tamil known as Playground.

And so, She Who Must Be Obeyed had really posed with a genuine celebrity. But to have taken a photo just because everyone else was doing so, and without having a clue as to who the person was is something quite alien to MMM’s nature. Clearly it takes all kinds to make up this world. Last seen, MMM’s good lady was putting the pic up on social media and was accepting the congratulations of friends and acquaintances with a grace that became her.

To Mask or Not To

The virus is back, or at least one of its many grandchildren is. Almost everyone is afflicted with something or the other and is going about sniffing or coughing or doing both. Mercifully it is has not become any worse. The Man from Madras Musings was down with something mysterious too. It all began with a mild cough, which MMM respected not, assuming that it would pass him by like the idle wind. But it did not. MMM was leading a heritage walk in the town of peacocks and even as he was midway through it, he felt his voice was losing its bell-like clarity. Soon it had dwindled down to a whisper. And remained that way for the next three days. This was accompanied by what the dictionary speaks of as lassitude – a tendency to lie down and gaze at the ceiling. After a stiffish dose of antibiotics MMM’s voice came back and then his strength. Some of MMM’s friends suggested that it may have been COVID but MMM chose not to test. In this he was obeying his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed. In her view, if you don’t test, it cannot be COVID and so you will soon be all right. Be that as it may, MMM soon recovered and all has since been well, barring a mild cough which surfaces every now and then.

The sad part is that testing is back too, at least in some organisations. The man in charge of security is liberally armed with RT PCR test kits and spends his day gazing up nostrils and plunging needles into them. What a job! MMM was at one of these business houses that are the pride of our city and State and was asked to subject himself to one such test but he refused on personal grounds. He was then told he would have to mask up. Since he did not have any, the organisation supplied him with one, this being brought ceremonially on a silver salver borne aloft by a bearer of butlerine aspect. MMM was duly ushered into the sanctum where everyone including the big boss, was masked to the eyes. It was like entering an operation theatre.

The leader duly lowered her mask.

“Coffee? Tea” she enquired and let her mask remain on her chin thereafter.

Everyone around then gave their choice, each person lowering his/her mask and not bothering to hoist it up again. MMM eventually was the only one wearing his. After a while, when it came to MMM’s turn to speak, he tried doing so with the mask on but was told his voice was muffled and so could he please lower it. When MMM attempted to remove it, he was told not to do that as company rules demand that everyone remains masked while in the premises. What has however not been defined is the exact positioning of the mask and so that has been left to the discretion of the user. Some had it crooked over their elbow.

So, things are back to the old normal. The good news apparently is that it is endemic and no longer a pandemic.

Wuthering Heights

The Man from Madras Musings, as many of you know from past editions of this column, goes for a walk on the RK Salai flyover each morning. There is no dearth of entertainment by way of other walkers, a few talkers, and a set of earnest exercisers. But last week The Man from Madras Musings was stunned to see, at the apex of the flyover, a man suddenly climb on to the protective wall and stand facing the road below. MMM hurried over to prevent him jumping only to see the man climb further on to a shaky lamppost and balance himself on a junction box halfway up the pole. He then bent down and a lasso of a cable was thrown up to him from a compatriot below. Together they then went on to no doubt connect some nearby household to the internet or television or whatever else that uses these services. MMM was shocked at the complete lack of protective equipment – not that the man seemed overly concerned. It was only MMM who shook like a leaf. He decided that this was something worth capturing on camera and shares the pic with you, so that you also may shudder at such poor safety standards. On that note, here is wishing you a happy Tamil New Year.

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  1. R Gopu says:

    If you dont wear a mask, it is like advaitam
    If you wear one over both nose and mouth, it is dvaitam
    If you wear it over your chin, it is vishishtaadvaitam
    There are more philosophies in the wearing of the mask Horatio, than are thought of in the corridors of medical policy makers


  2. Ganesh K N says:

    Great to read the article on C D Gopinath . Have personally met him at the Sheraton ( Amalgamation ) get-together

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