And so it is finally official. The Government has acknowledged that there is a power shortage to reduce which Chennai also has to contribute by suffering load shedding. Schedules have been given out detailing the hours when specific areas will need to go without power. At present the break will be only for one hour each day.


The Man from Madras Musings (MMM) could not but smile when he read all this. It took him back to a time when he was a child of Communist Calcutta (CCC) or should he now say Kid from Karl Marx’s Kolkata (KKK)? That city, which in its heyday was the second city of the Empire, had by the time MMM/CCC/KKK arrived on the scene become severely power starved and had to resort to load shedding on a massive scale. Sure enough, schedules were duly given out, but these were observed more in the breach and often it came to a situation when the power was available only for the hour in which it was scheduled to be switched off. MMM/CCC/KKK was in a situation similar Sir T Muthuswami Aiyar, the first Indian to be Chief Justice of Madras High Court. That gentleman it was said, had educated himself by studying under street lights. MMM/CCC/KKK managed with petromax and hurricane lamps, the ubiquitous inverter being unknown then. As a consequence MMM/CCC/KKK became severely short-sighted, more, it must be admitted, by reading PG Wodehouse in flickering lamplight rather than by boning up for examinations.


As MMM/CCC/KKK sits down to write this, the power has failed and the only ventilation available is courtesy the Chief who is breathing down MMM/CCC/KKK’s neck. But all is well. The powers that be have announced that they will stagger industrial usage of power by rotating weekly holidays for the large establishments. Apparently this has been done in Pune and domestic consumers are spared the travails of power failure. Oh, if only MMM was a PPP (Person from ‘Power’ful Pune).



Walking by starlight


The Man from Madras Musings has taken to walking with a vengeance as regulars of this column will know. And for this he selects various routes, just to ensure that monotony does not set in. All readers will agree that MMMM (monotonous Man from Madras Musings) is infinitely worse than MMM. No, that is not quite what MMM meant, but you get the picture. And he prefers to walk early in the morning for that is when he is at his best. In fact, the earlier the better. But he finds that this is a next to impossible task. And no, it has nothing to with MMM’s alarm clock. The mornings are quite dark these days thanks to the low pressure area that has developed in the bay and which shows no signs of leaving. Walking has to be done courtesy street lights as the roads are highly uneven, thanks to drain works, telephone cable laying works, political meeting stage erection work and all kinds of other activities. But the rule book of the Corporation, if there is one, no doubt states that street lights have to be switched off at a particular time no matter even if there is a solar eclipse in progress. As a consequence just as MMM sets out at around 5.00 am, an unseen hand turns off the street lights and then MMM is left to grope his way in the darkness. This naturally slows down MMM who is accustomed to a brisk pace and this irritates him considerably and sours his usually sunny outlook. MMM even imagines that there is an international conspiracy against him which has spies watching out for when he leaves his house. Just as he steps out, they flash a signal to the unseen hand which could be that of M from James Bond for all we know and presto! MMM’s street is in darkness. MMM can just about see M chortling away. The shortage of M’s in his/her name no doubt rankles.


The point that MMM wishes to make is that surely some leeway is allowed the unseen hand in deciding as to when to switch off the street lights. Surely the hand, which though unseen, cannot be unseeing also? Can it not notice the darkness and postpone the switching off by half-an-hour? Surely the power spent here is far less than what is consumed in the new Government offices which need air-conditioning and artificial lighting throughout the day?


Gunning for a shoot


The recent dastardly bomb attacks have sent shockwaves down everyone’s spine and the Government has rightly stepped up security at various places. But last weekend, when the Man from Madras Musings visited a temple, he, and other pilgrims were surprised to see tow gun-toting guards running hither and thither. They finally ran their quarry to ground in a quiet corner and then spent quite sometime posing for various photographs which that pressman was quite happy to take. No doubt they must have appeared as examples of heightened security in the subsequent day’s newspaper.


One way


The Man from Madras Musings may be wrong about the escalators that were installed at the Egmore station sometime ago amidst great fanfare. They were touted as being user friendly and helpful to those who were unable to negotiate stairs. But MMM thinks that there is a flaw in the execution. The escalator in platform 1 is meant only for going up to the over-bridge. What happens to those wishing to come down to platform 1 from the over-bridge? They need to take the steps. Similarly, the escalator in platform 4 is only for descending. What happens if a passenger with heavy baggage has just got off a train on platform 4 and needs to access the over-bridge? Simple, he climbs up. MMM is not entirely certain that his observation is correct and would be most happy if others using the station are able to correct him. But if what he saw was indeed correct, then MMM would like to know how this helps. Was there a sanction only for one pair of escalators and so did some bright spark come up with this solution?


Transformer ahead


That at least is the cry that comes to mind whenever the Man from Madras Musings negotiates footpaths. This necessitates a hop off hop on method of walking for whenever a transformer occupies a significant portion of a footpath, not only does it block off walking space, its base is also used as an open air convenience of all sorts. Often it houses a family or two. MMM is glad to hear that the Corporation has ordered the Electricity Department to clear all footpaths of transformers. “Off with them” says the Corporation. But the EB, which in the correctness of things ought to have placed transformers inside the compounds of high-rise buildings and not on the neighbouring footpath, is now caught in a bind. MMM however, has no sympathy for the EB. This was something that the department ought to have fixed when buildings were under construction. Now having usurped public spaces, they are pleading helplessness. In reality the most helpless is the pedestrian for he has sacrificed whatever little space he once had.