Short and Snappy July 1st 2008

Heritage by any other name


The longer the Man from Madras Musings lives, and he has not lived that long and would definitely like to live much longer, the more he is convinced that this heritage movement in Madras that is Chennai is blighted from the start mainly because it lacks supernatural blessing. And what better way to get it than numerology? It is the in thing now. MMM did not take it seriously till he received an invitation from an organisation calling itself the Artss Academy. MMM seriously thinks that Madras Musings must change its name to Chennai Chatter. After all who muses today? Everyone chatters and continuously into cell phones at that. This will be more in keeping with the trend.


Also Chennai Heritage itself could be spelt as Chennai Heritaje. I am told certain alphabets have more strength than others and ‘j’ is far more powerful compared to the mere ‘g’. Phonetically it will not make a difference and after all it could have been infinitely worse with options such as Chennnnai Herrritagge etc. Now for the buildings. Ripon Buildings could be Ribbon Buildings. If only Government House had been named as “Gorement House”, its fate would have been a lot different. We could have Chebag Palace, Merina Beach, Central Tesan and so on. About Egmore MMM is not all worried. After all in its history it was named Elumuroo, Ezhumbur and so on. So a change to Eggmore would not matter. MMM would request those who worry about heritaje, sorry heritage, to consider this.


Fly by night Exhibition


Speaking about Elumuroo or Ezhumbur or Egmore, the Man from Madras Musings was away when the centenary of the station was celebrated. But he was happy to note that an exhibition of photographs concerning the building was put up. MMM was looking forward to returning and looking up the display when he found out that the exhibition was on only for a day. In any other country, they would have dined out for a year on this, but here it is more a question of putting up something for the sake of doing it and then heaving a sigh of relief that it is all over and done with. MMM suspects that there must have been a budget for the event which those in charge would have been eager to spend. Now that the expenditure has been incurred all are happy. What does it matter if it was up for a day, an hour or even just a minute?


Agile and mobile


The Man from Madras Musings used to run for exercise. That was until a fall in a heritage building (of all places) put paid to some part of his spine identified by an alphabet such as C or L or S or some such. As a result of this, MMM is now only allowed a dignified walk. And as he walks along he look about, always on the lookout for material to fill this column with. And what amazes him is that times are changing. There was a time when men took their dogs for walks. Now just about everyone takes his mobile phone for a walk. This realisation dawned on MMM when one day, early in the morning, when it was not yet bright, MMM was walking along a tree-lined avenue and espied a well-dressed if overweight man talking to himself as he walked on. He appeared to be arguing or even fighting with himself. Perhaps it was a struggle between the body and the immortal soul? MMM is always a votary of safety first and so thinking that this man may be non compos, he decided to give him a wide berth. But the other gent was a swift walker and soon caught up with MMM, all the while yelling at himself. As MMM slowed down, wondering what could be offered by way of self-defence, he realised that the other was wearing a twinkling ornament over his ear which extended halfway down his cheek. This, MMM later came to know is the famed ‘blue tooth’, which is not the term for a tooth that has received an excessive dose of anaesthetic, but a gadget which provides you handless contact with your mobile. So you keep the mobile in your pocket, stick the blue tooth into your ear, answer all your calls and hey presto! You look loony but your work gets done. These strollers are the highest in status. They appear to communicate with the clouds and most often have their head in them.


Then there is the second variety of walker who has a complicated set of cables dangling all over. This one has not yet attained the status that the blue tooth wearer has. Among the many cables, the first set belongs to an i-pod, which is a portable musical gadget that stores an awesome number of songs in it. Here again there is subliminal sub-communalism, for the man whose i-pod holds 53259 songs looks down on the chap whose gadget has only 3245. Size matters. To come back to the point, the i-pod is in say, pocket A, with its wires firmly plugged to the ear. The mobile phone is in pocket B, with its own set of wires. Now as soon as the phone rings, or buzzes, or vibrates, or whatever else it can do, sometimes all of the above, the walker takes off the wires from the music gadget and plugs the phone wires in. All this is fraught with danger, for the wire that is idle can trip you over and then in addition to the music, you can also see stars. There was a time when only your shoelace could do that, but then we live in dangerous times.


There is a third variety which is still getting used to the mobile phone. This kind believes that it has to roar every word into the instrument thereby disturbing the public peace. There is a fourth variety which appears to have graduated from the old walkie-talkie. Walkers of this type keep switching the phone from ear to mouth. While speaking they bring it close to their mouth and while listening they press it to the ear. They barely stop short of barking “Over” at the end of every sentence.


One thing is common among all the above types. There is very little walking done. And of course there are those like MMM who belong to the rare breed that does not bring along a phone. But then we cannot be bothered with such outcastes can we?


Zeal v Greed


There is news on the illegal building front. Apparently those who have been served demolition notices after the High Court passed judgement have appealed on a new logic. They have accepted that their buildings violate all norms, but they claim that they are entitled to a one-time pardon, because their intention was not to violate but they were overcome by their zeal to do business which must not be mistaken for greed!!!


The Man from Madras Musings marvels at the brains that come up with such unique reasoning. He also wonders why, if the builders had become overzealous, the Corporation or the CMDA did not damper then enthusiasm even during the planning stage by pointing out the violations? Were the authorities also motivated by the zeal to do business of some kind or the other? MMM hopes and prays that such gobbledegook will not be paid any heed to and that all violators will be brought to book.