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

Vol. XXXIV No. 4, June 1-15, 2024

Short ‘N’ Snappy

– WoMM

Vote Antidote

Election fever is in the air, and it seems to The Woman from Madras Musings that there is no escape from the subject on any front. Everyone wants to know who voted for whom and why. Most of these conversations naturally become arguments about why one’s choice is the best devil among the lot. WoMM wonders if this is in fact healthy. One ought to cast one’s vote out of trust in the choice of leadership, not fear of the alternative. That this seems to be a rather idealistic viewpoint in these times should make us pause.

WoMM’s own voting experience was rather uneventful save a couple of minor incidents. She had gone with the Eternals to the voting booth which was conveniently set up just across the street. A long queue was waiting outside the gates, for one of the two voting machines was broken or otherwise malfunctioning, the voters having to wait until it was fixed. By a stroke of luck, WoMM and the Eternals were assigned to the second, functioning machine where there was not much of a line; it took mere minutes to vote and get back home. The policemanat the booth was a friendly chap. Noticing a couple of celebrities standing ahead in the queue, he called WoMM aside and asked whether there were other stars in the locality. WoMM joked that she was the last of the lot, eliciting loud – and frankly startling – laughter that shook his moustache. Perhaps the gent was distracted by the niceties, for he did not object to WoMM taking her phone inside. Later voters – including a particularly outspoken celebrity – were barred from doing so, whereupon WoMM quietly slipped away lest she be pulled into the controversy.

Most in WoMM’s circle had a routine voting experience, save a couple whose names were discovered missing from the rolls on polling day. One chap in particular felt quite let down. He takes his franchise quite seriously and makes sure to conduct as objective a research as possible before making up his mind. So he was quite disappointed to find his name missing from the roll. He had tried to reason with the crew, he said, to no avail. In the end, he’d simply waited for his family to finish voting and accompanied them back home. Next time, he says, he will make sure to check his name on the rolls before going.

Anyway, WoMM was left a tad let down – as she supposes many MM readers were – by our city’s low voter turnout. She should have seen it coming, though. There had been quite a few who’d declared themselves disillusioned by the process. The gentleman who keeps watch over WoMM’s apartment – hereafter referred to as Big Brother – had asked her at the time of polling whether she was interested at all in this voting business. He certainly wasn’t, he had declared – his favourite leader was no more and he had little faith in the current crop of aspirants. WoMM – even if she does say so herself – had made a brave attempt to inspire him to vote, anyway; if she remembers right, she had spoken loftily of civic ideals and the power of informed constituents. BB had listened to the whole thing without batting an eye. It was only when WoMM had remarked that it could make for a nice holiday back to his hometown that he had leapt to his feet and dashed off to apply for leave. By the end of the whole thing, BB had managed to make a proper vacation of it – he had managed to convince a few relatives to accompany him back home. WoMM thinks that’s still better than not voting at all.

Airplane Shenanigans

The Woman from Madras Musings has resumed travelling for work after quite a few years, and she is rather unsurprised by the fact that we have not made much progress by way of airplane etiquette. One would think that being confined to a small space along with dozens of other passengers would be reason enough to practice consideration, but one would be mistaken. A recent flight has reminded WoMM why travelling can be a veritable pain.

It started at the time of boarding itself. An airline rep had appeared near the gate and no sooner had he announced that the flight was ready for boarding than when a crowd of passengers assembled before him. The poor chap shouted at the top of his lungs for passengers in a certain zone to begin boarding, but people were not prepared to listen. Those at the head of the line asked him if he could allow them to board anyway, and the rest were not willing to give the right of way to the ticket holders in the announced zone. It took some pleading from the airline rep for the crowd to grudgingly follow instructions. By the time WoMM boarded the plane and reached her window seat it was quite a while. Two gentlemen were already seated in the aisle and middle seats, and blinked at WoMM when she appeared. When they realized that she had to get to the window seat, they leaned back and tucked their feet in, the gent in the middle gesturing to her to squeeze past them. WoMM was affronted by the familiarity. She spoke rather firmly that she had no intention of brushing past them at close quarters upon which they sighed and got up from their seats to give her way, rolling their eyes all the while. WoMM was not the least surprised when, at the end of the flight, their attempts to collect their luggage from the overhead bin ended up hurting a passenger seated in front. Yet, there was more to come. WoMM spied them at the baggage carousel, picking up checked-in baggage willy-nilly and blithely setting them aside on the ground on discovering that it was not theirs. She felt quite sorry for the owners of the bags. It was a rather grumpy WoMM whom the Better Half received at home.

A colleague at work once made a remark that stuck with WoMM. He pointed out that a popular airline – arguably the most efficient among the domestic players – seemed to prioritize their planes over the people. The company, he said, makes sure that their aircraft are in flight for as long as possible in a day, for that’s where their profitability lies; they often make passengers wait for the plane but never the other way around. WoMM thought it over and had to concede that the theory fit her own experience. After all, you can impose efficiency on processes, not people. The revelation, though interesting, offers little consolation. WoMM is not looking forward to the next trip.

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