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

Vol. XXXIII No. 24, April 1-15, 2024

Short ‘N’ Snappy


On the benefits of tobacco

Cigarette smoking is injurious to health as we all know. Many of us can, The Man from Madras Musings is quite sure, repeat this message in many regional languages as well. Tobacco in any form, be it just a wad, or a cigar, or pressed into a pipe, or puffed from a beedi, causes more harm than good. MMM has believed in this dictum all along and has abstemiously stayed away from the temptations of the leaf that kills. But such are his present circumstances that he must take to it and probably use it for a long period of time.

It all began with MMM’s good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, instructing MMM to go forth and purchase a car of German manufacture. The vehicle in question duly arrived and was installed at Chez MMM, reposing regally in the garage. This being just prior to the COVID lockdown, the vehicle did nothing but repose for many months, during which, and this is where it all bit sharply, MMM kept paying the monthly instalments on the purchase and the amount was not small. That however, as it transpired, was not the only aspect that was biting. Prolonged idleness had made the car a convenient haven for rats, these rodents apparently having a partiality towards cars of German design. MMM guesses that rats as a community are now ISO certified and so prefer vehicles of a certain quality stamp.

The net result was that when MMM switched on the vehicle there were several flashes of light and nothing much thereafter. The car had to be sent for repairs and when it returned after some major expenses, the value of which could have funded a smaller vehicle locally made, all was well. MMM was asked to install a rat guard which would prevent rodents from claiming easementary rights on the vehicle. This was done and all was well.

That was until the rats managed to evade the guard and get in once more. This time, the vehicle being regularly in use, the damage was minimal (not so the cost of repair) – just one flashing indicator which according to those in the know meant a cable somewhere was cut by the rats. It was back to the workshop and after a week the car was back. It came late in the evening and was lodged in its lair. The next morning when revved up the light was back to flashing which meant the rats had come back and had celebrated with a rowdy party the return of their car. After some further expenses, the car is scheduled to be back in a day or two but MMM brushing aside suggestions of gadgets and ultra-violet lights enquired if some native answer was in place – short of his sleeping in the car that is.

And sure enough, there was. The car workshop came out with it rather shamefacedly. A sheaf of long tobacco if kept in the engine compartment apparently works wonders. Rats it seems take our statutory warnings seriously and avoid tobacco like the plague. The only drawback is that the tobacco must be replaced periodically as its organic nature means it decays pretty fast. MMM does not mind. He is quite happy if necessary to grow the tobacco in his back garden rather than incur those huge expenses in repairing the damage to the car. And so, tobacco has its uses. The great God did not create it owing to a mere whim.

Small has its Advantages

The Man from Madras Musings is second to none in pointing out the flaws in the Chennai airport. These need not be repeated here for they are very well known. But in MMM’s view, the place has its advantages, one of which is its compact size. You can go from one end to the other very quickly. As it happened the other day to MMM and his good lady.

MMM is of the kind that believes in being present hours ahead at the airport when it comes to taking a flight and his good lady is of the variety that thinks it is a waste of time unless the entry is just when names are being announced over the PA system together with the warning that it is the last and final call. And so between MMM and good lady there is a compromise – arrival at an airport is invariably late enough for MMM to bite his nails in anxiety but not so bad as to have search parties sent out to look for the two.

It was thus that the duo reached the Chennai airport one morning, only to be informed that the flight they were to board was to take off from another terminal. Fortunately for MMM and good lady there was a battery-operated cart on hand which ferried them across in good time chiefly because the airport is small. Contrast this with what happened when MMM and good lady (they do travel quite a bit don’t they?) were at the national capital. They had arrived there from some other city and were to board a connecting flight to Chennai. The first flight was delayed and there was just about an hour for the second and in the interim baggage had to be collected, a different terminal had to be reached, luggage had to be checked in and security checks had to be gone through. The baggage came quickly enough but transfer to the other terminal, so MMM learnt, could be done only by ‘shuttal’. And so MMM and his good lady rushed across to the shuttle boarding point.

A ramshackle vehicle greeted them and while boarding it MMM caught his trousers on a projecting hook leaving a large rent in the garment. There was no time to change anyway and MMM was also too busy praying to worry about the damage. The shuttle took its time, rattling over a few hundred speed breakers which given the speed of the vehicle were anyway unnecessary. The driver paused to pick up an argument with just about everyone else on the road and some choice Delhi words regarding mothers, sisters and aunts were heard. The departing terminal was reached with around 45 minutes to go.

MMM tried explaining at the baggage queue that he needed to be allowed to move ahead given the time but was brusquely told that he needed to wait his turn. But when his good lady said the same thing to the same attendant, such being her personality he simply bowed and made way, opening a special counter for the baggage to be checked in. In all the confusion MMM had forgotten to pull out a fresh pair of trousers and there was no option but to go for security check with the rear well exposed. If that was not embarrassing enough there was the good lady’s running commentary about incompetents who could not explain an urgency to a ‘mere’ member of the airport staff. MMM had to bear it all in silence. His good lady is of the kind that parts waters. He is not. The flight was duly boarded and as was to be expected just when MMM hoped that there was nobody he knew on board there were plenty and everyone pretended not to notice MMM’s torn trousers.

None of this would have happened in Chennai airport is MMM’s considered opinion.

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