Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXIII No. 14, November 1-15, 2023
The Man from Madras Musings has never known how to react when people tell him they watch his YouTube videos chiefly to relax and eventually fall asleep. MMM is forever plagued with doubts – is it good that an unintended outcome of his presentations is that they are good soporifics? Or should he pep things up a little so that people remain awake at least till the end of each episode? But that MMM may have to soon come to a decision regarding what needs to be done about it was made manifest to him when he found emails regarding mattresses in his inbox.
As regulars of this column are aware, there is an increasing readership for MM in China. Not a day passes when we do not receive fan mails from there offering to sell pumps, valves, cylinders, wire mesh, medical products to improve the aesthetics of our body parts, and also standing wheelchairs. For some reason, MM seems to be a hit with women in China and the correspondents rejoice in names such as Lucy, Helen and Susie. But then numbers are evidently going up for now it is Angelina who adds herself to the list and she writes on a fairly delicate subject. Her message is as follows –
I noticed you are in the field of bedding/mattress/pillows/seating industry……
I would love to connect and see if there will be any way we can support each other.
Or can we be your back up supplier? No disturb, we only share energy!
Now MMM is at a loss on how to reply. Firstly, there is always the fear that his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed may discover this correspondence. She is often spoken of in domestic circles as the Chief Who Eventually Discovers All, and so MMM needs to be doubly careful. The next aspect is, how did Angelina discover that we at MM are in the bedding/mattress/pillows/seating industry? Yes to be sure, some of our readers may lie down while reading MM, others may recline on pillows while yet another lot may be seated but how does that qualify for the magazine to claim to be in the business of bed essentials? Next, how does Angelina think MMM can support her and vice versa? It is all too embarrassing to contemplate, especially when read in conjunction with the rest of the message about back up supplies and sharing energy. It brings the blush of shame to MMM’s damask cheek.
MMM is of the view that something will soon have to be done on the China question. Should we allow them to infiltrate this magazine? They already seem to be hovering around point zero, and as in the case of this latest message, resorting to unprovoked firing, at least of the imagination. Perhaps the time has come to start a Mandarin version of this paper; should it be called Manchurian Musings?
The bigger issue however still remains – how to keep viewers and the readership awake till the end of the episode/article. But then, MMM can only blame himself for this contretemps. When he could convert a column titled Short and Snappy into Long and Loquacious, anyone would be tempted to go to sleep. And so, if you are awake up to this point, you are exceptional and deserve congratulations for sheer endurance. And may the Chinese not enter into correspondence with you.
Last week saw anniversaries galore and there were celebrations to match. The Man from Madras Musings was invited to these and he did make it to a couple of them. Both were elegance personified, one in particular having a lovely exhibition on the life of an industrialist whose centenary was being observed. The other was the diamond jubilee of a corporate entity and this too was exquisite. It comprised two classical performances, the first evening being a music recital that MMM sadly missed but was told was exemplary and the second being a dance performance that MMM attended and came away mesmerised.
All was in short well with the world barring the master (in this case female but MMM guesses mistresses is not correct) of ceremonies who provided much inadvertent mirth. Each time she came on stage she had to exhort the audience to put their hands together and applaud. It was a good ice breaker when the programme began but as she kept repeating it every few minutes, enthusiasm among those in attendance waned somewhat. Thus as soon as the CV of the dancer was read there was a call to applaud and then when the dancer appeared on stage there was a request to applaud. The dancer wanted to speak and so there was a request to applaud and when she was given the mic there was, you guessed it, yet another request to applaud. This was followed by requests to applaud when dancer finished speaking, and then when the accompanists were introduced there were further requests. Not that MMM grudges these applauses – they are well deserved and the music was great but the audience would have applauded anyway even without this one-woman cheerleading.
But that was not all. There is an unfortunate tendency among Chennai-ites to mix up hard and soft letters while speaking and so it was with this lady. The dancer was a Padma Shri – she having been recognised by the Government of India for her phenomenal terpischorean skills. But the MC had to pronounce Padma as Bathma and it jarred quite a bit. And it was not done once but fell like rain throughout the evening. Thus you had various pronouncements such as –
Bathma Shri So-And-So is here. (Ladies and Gentlemen – Applaud!)
And then, now Bathma Shri So-And-So will speak (Ladies and Gentlemen – Applaud)
Bathma Shri has finished speaking (ditto -ditto)
Now Bathma Shri will dance (ditto-ditto)
And so the evening wore on. But as MMM said earlier, barring this odd note, the rest of evening was a delight.
At the end of it, MC was back. Not seeming to notice the thunderous applause the dancer got for her superlative performance, MC had to entreat the audience to applaud Bathma Shri again, and again. Fortunately, she did not ask the audience to give a standing ovation, for those in attendance had already done that spontaneously.
All of this brings to MMM’s mind that the December Music Season is not far away and with that will come another oddity – forcing people to stand up and “standing ovate” as MMM once heard an MC say. That is even if a performance were to be mediocre. Those who do not obey these instructions are then hissed and booed at for not appreciating what was on display. If everything were to merit a standing ovation then what price merit itself?
Talking about which, last year, at a hallowed venue, one of the key personalities on stage kept asking the audience to rise and “ovate” at the end of each performance. Finally a wag had to tell this person that at this rate seats may be declared superfluous as the audience can keep standing till the performance is over on all days. That seemed to knock some sense but MMM is of the view that such sanity will be short lived.