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

Vol. XXXIII No. 8, August 1-15, 2023

Short ‘N’ Snappy

– (Wo)MMM

The joy of online meetings

The Woman from Madras Musings is a staunch advocate of online conferences. When a camera can bring one face-to-face, why get up from one’s chair, she asks? (Wo)MMM is aware that she does not have many supporters on her side of the ring on this subject, but the idea does come in handy when physical travel is impossible. Like, for instance, a cousin’s wedding across the seas. The Betternals and Co. attended it onlinefrom the comfort of home. (Wo)MMM was dressed comfortably in pyjamas and t-shirt – the video is never switched on for these calls, so why bother? These functions, however, hardly lack in the unique thrill and drama that comes of bringing an Indian family together, whether online or offline. These affairs are usually a hoot and a half, from past experience.

Getting everyone on the uplink tends to be an adventure by itself. Family groups on what’s app are never straightforward – every family has multiple what’s app groups and even these branch off into side groups for exclusive cliques. All is well and good if everyone’s invited to the online function; but if it is a closed event for a select few, then entertainment can be expected. Because then that secret link will invariably be shared in larger groups and then sheepishly deleted with hasty fibs and explanations.

But let’s assume that everyone’s joined the call without much drama. Regardless, a series of misadventures awaits the host on starting the meeting. Not everyone makes it a habit to switch off their videos, so attendees are treated to a variety of interesting scenes – a view up an aunt’s nostril, the scarring image of an uncle youthfully prone on a sofa, or a shot of some other hapless family member trying to have their dinner in peace. Requests are hastily made at this juncture for attendees to switch off the videos and the younger ones in the family are invariably roped in as tech support to achieve this. Once the videos are off, however, another setback emerges – audio, of course. Conversations that would have been better off left in one’s head are suddenly broadcast to all and sundry. Multiple revelations are had, both emotional and poltical in nature; the entire function then threatens to churn out some unnecessary drama, an eventuality that is headed off by a second round of tech support to assist people to mute themselves. After this, of course, the entire affair takes on a rather ­existential tinge. The function is watched in solemn quiet by attendees left jarred into silence by the recent snafus. The rest of the event goes by rather uneventfully until the host cuts the call – a happy turn of events that, (Wo)MMM imagines, brings considerable relief to the protagonist(s) of the day.

(Wo)MMM’s recent online function checked only a few of the boxes above, sadly. Paati’s video was poised to show a view of her face from the chin, but being paati, the image was endearingly cute, not particularly funny. The only really entertaining part of the whole thing was watching the cousin desperately trying to sit cross-legged on the floor – an attempt that was gleefully recorded for future reference. Some of the enterprising elders in the family are planning to put together a how-to picture document for these online events in the future, meanwhile. It’s a project that (Wo)MMM’s managed to oil away from, having recommended younger, brighter brains for the job. She’s been summarily kicked out of their what’s app cliques and hopes to be reinstated soon.

Strange Tales

The Woman from Madras Musings understands that some of the flyovers in the city have undergone a key change in the rules of usage – people will now be able to use them at night, too. (Wo)MMM confesses to being surprised that they were ever unavailable for usage in the witching hour. It was when she was digging around on more information on the subject that she stumbled on a social media post which claimed to have an inside scoop on the matter; the user had been as befuddled as (Wo)MMM at the state of affairs and had reportedly reached out to a friendly traffic policeman for insight.

Rash driving, it turns out, was a deciding factor. Some fellow citizens who prefer a little zing in their lives use the flyovers for midnight races, it seems. This was not as surprising as the other, equally grave concern – lovers. The poster said that the traffic policeman who had chatted with him admitted to being concerned about romantic couples who tended to use lonely flyovers for a little privacy. There’s no judging the veracity of the post, to be honest. All that can be gained from it is a singularly strange point-of-view. (Wo)MMM imagines that the issue, if it ever existed, must have been sorted out in some manner given the change in policy.

It appears that our city’s administration is a fount of other similar strange tales, too. (Wo)MMM was fairly kicked to read a news story earlier this month reporting a claim by the city police that rats had consumed fair amounts of narcotic evidence in custody. This was apparently the very same explanation given last year too, to explain the difference in evidence produced before the court. (Wo)MMM is torn between wishing the story was true and fervently hoping it is not. On one hand, it is bizarre beyond imagination; on the other, the thought of inebriated rats is markedly more fearsome than sober rats, which are rather hard enough to handle as it is.

(Wo)MMM is now hungry for more tales of the weird and wonderful that our city has to offer. If she finds any, she promises to share them with MM readers, of course.

Rain again

The Woman from Madras Musings hopes that MM readers enjoyed the spate of rains that blessed our city in recent times. (Wo)MMM had the loveliest encounter with a cloudburst during the week or so of showers. It was a late evening on the tennis court and the skies, though dark, were largely clear. (Wo)MMM was playing with the better half under the floodlights and the game had been rather nice for the most part, the weather being particularly delicious for a spot of outdoor exercise. And then it happened, in literally the blink of an eye. (Wo)MMM was preparing to receive a serve when two fat raindrops splashed on the court; a second later, it was pouring cats and dogs. There was never much hope of remaining dry. (Wo)MMM gave in to fate and ambled to her kit, dripping rain from head to toe.

In hindsight, it would have been prudent to have checked the weather alert beforehand. (Wo)MMM finds that the best rain alert – with all due respect to the excellent weathermen who serve the city – is the TV set top box at home. You see, it stops working precisely a minute before the rains start. At times, it has been more accurate than weather advisories, to be honest. Some eager employee at the company takes the word ‘sky’ more seriously than expected.

– (Wo)MMM

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