Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXIII No. 17, December 16-31, 2023
Cyclone Michaung has come and gone and The Woman from Madras Musings is struck, once again, by the fatheaded resilience of some to insist that life chug along their terms even in the midst of a natural calamity. Even as the city was struggling to retrieve itself from the floods and inundations, stories emerged from the ground about public requests that ranged from the silly to the plain bizarre. There was the tweet from a relief volunteer who entreated people to request for dire essentials, not treats like ice cream; there was the news story of a mehendi artist who had to catch a boat to reach her customer in a flooded part of the city; and there was (Wo)MMM’s own personal experience with someone who wanted to know how they could get a bottle or two of whiskey delivered home until their street was drained.
(Wo)MMM was left astonished. The whole thing was rather akin to that famous PGW poem which has a man gazing at the sky in dusk only to remark – ‘I say, / Doesn’t that sunset remind you / Of a slice / Of underdone roast beef?’ Except, the current circumstances, (Wo)MMM thought, were far from the mood of a humorous novel. The smallest inconvenience, it seems, is too much for some to suffer. Like electricity, for instance – very much an essential service, though it can be argued that one can make do for a few hours without it. It had hardly been thirty minutes since the lights went out in the storm when someone got in touch with (Wo)MMM wanting to know if she ‘had pull’ with the authorities and could she help bring back ‘current.’ (Wo)MMM was very happy to reveal that she was of no consequence whatsoever and had no influence over any sort of authority, current or otherwise. The caller rang off, sounding visibly disappointed. (Wo)MMM didn’t see why he had to feel let down – the lack of power in a storm is certainly not a personal agenda to frustrate. One just had to wait for the situation to pass.
Some things just don’t change.
The Woman from Madras Musings has had a terrible time coordinating with service professionals in the aftermath of the cyclone. For one, connectivity took a week longer to be restored at home, thanks to an unresponsive wi-fi provider. The experience was positively Kafkaesque. The first complaint generated a ticket that promised resolution in three days; but (Wo)MMM was left without wi-fi access even a week later. Despite regular complaints to phone support, the service operator dashed off a message every morning pushing the time of resolution to later that very night; when this happened for four days straight, (Wo)MMM gave up all hope. There was nowhere else to go, either – the situation wasn’t better at the Betternal’s or the Eternal’s, sadly. Finally, the Better Half, fed up with having to deal with a very irritated (Wo)MMM – decided to switch service providers and paid the subscription amount. Thus began a new form of torture, with the new provider promising to install its services that very day for the next couple of days. It didn’t help that everyone around her had resumed normal life – the neighbours’ television sets were tuned into OTT shows, social media was back to buzzing and work emails began to pile up in the inbox. (Wo)MMM began to wish she was back in the pre-internet era where she could live happily without needing to be connected to the world wide web. Tethering to the mobile network was no use, too – phone connectivity was so bad that even calls couldn’t be taken unless (Wo)MMM was standing in a particular corner of the house, and even then the connection was patchy. (Wo)MMM is certain that the entire street knew all her business, what with her needing to repeat her words about a million times in a loud voice.
Thankfully, the Better Half – bless his patience – pressed on and managed to get the original service provider to pay a home visit. Turns out that the problem had nothing to do with Cyclone Michaung, after all – the EB technician had inadvertently cut the cable powering the wi-fi at home. The cable was replaced the next day and the blessed green lights graced the modem once again. It was whilst (Wo)MMM was admiring the prettiness of an active modem that the Better Half received a call joyously informing him that the new provider would install its connection the next day. The Better Half informed the caller that it was no longer necessary and applied for a refund.
While all this was happening, (Wo)MMM was struggling to get the Betternal’s car towed from their garage. It was one of the vehicles affected by the floods, for water had inundated the seats. Towing vehicles, she discovered from the service company, were in short supply; it took five days of promises before one was finally arranged to take the vehicle to the workshop. Of course, all work had to be halted to attend to the imminent possibility of the vehicle being towed at any given day; and with a patchy network to boot.
(Wo)MMM thought she would never recover from the exquisite torture of the past few weeks. But one morning, the maid appeared in front of her demanding a chat. She wanted to know why (Wo)MMM was moping about for a few days; nothing could be that bad, she said, to warrant an endless sulk. Thinking that apples and pomegranates would help, she had bought a bag of fruits on her way.
She was right, of course. They did.
The Woman from Madras Musings rather enjoyed the last Short ‘N’ Snappy penned by MMM. She had no idea that the city had such a surfeit of random urban legends concerning area names. Though, she was reminded of a tweet about a Kathipara landmark on Google Maps. The user had stumbled on a place calling itself ‘Vantha Vettuom,’ prompting him (or her) to ask, in some alarm, whether it was a barber shop as he (or she) hoped. Turns out the guess was bang on the money. Now isn’t that a nice name for a hairdressing establishment?