Mada Street Mayhem
The four Mada Streets around Mylapore’s Kapaliswarar Temple are always abuzz with action and they are among the favourite hangouts of the Man from Madras Musings. MMM being the kind who likes to stand and stare (and as someone rather nastily pointed out – has the time and resources to do it as well) always leaves his vehicle at some distance from this heritage precinct and walks through this area as often as he can. There are days when these walks necessitate MMM to weave through vehicles and then there is the one day of the year when MMM along with many hundred others progresses step by step or inch by inch and that is the day of the Arupattu Moovar festival which happens in March/April. But come the festival of nine nights or Navaratri and MMM can only hop, skip and jump, for the footpaths, such as they are and the roads themselves are taken over by the doll makers who hawk their clay dolls from every nook and cranny on North Mada Street. Not that MMM is complaining. In fact MMM loves it and looks forward to this year after year. It teaches some of the supremely arrogant shopping establishments on this street to learn to adjust and participate in a spirit of give and take.
This year, the crowds, apart from haggling over and buying dolls, were also divided into two groups. The first felt that the rush this year was unprecedented while the other group felt that it was nothing compared to last year. The same discussions prevail year after year. At the same time none can say that the crowds were anyway thin.
Given that the street was full of buyers and vendors all keen on doing what is a once in a year business, MMM thinks it was completely unfair on the part of our political lords and masters to hold a public meeting in Mangollai, the eastern end of North Mada Street, right in the middle of the Navaratri festival. It displayed a lack of sensitivity for security concerns not only blocked off public movement but also dampened sales. And when you consider that these dolls are sold only for nine days in a full year, every day, no, make that every minute, counts for the poor vendors.
Leaving aside the political lords and masters who cannot be expected to be sensitive to local events (except during election campaigns), surely, the city’s police force ought to have been aware of the festival and suggested an alternative location for the political meeting. But then, you don’t expect such sensitivity from the force either. MMM made bold to question one of the officers in charge on the wisdom of holding such a meeting during Navaratri and he (the officer) merely smiled and said that there were pressures from high places. Apparently Mangollai is a prestigious place for holding high profile meetings.
The end result? The street was cordoned off and everyone was subjected to high decibel music for two days. Flags, festoons and posters came up everywhere on the street and most of Mylapore bore the brunt of the chaos that resulted. But then, the bosses were pleased and that is all that counts.
Areas such as Mangollai were once designated as venues for public meetings because there were quiet and open locations which were not in the way of mainstream traffic. But all that has changed. The area is full of residential buildings and offices and the very idea of holding meetings in the midst of all this is a resident’s and pedestrian’s nightmare. It is high time the police force took a relook at the places it permits political parties to hold their meetings in. Will they ever do it? Or will this also need public interest litigation?
Duty be damned
The great statesman whose centenary is being observed in the state held his motto to be “Duty, Dignity, Discipline”. And lived by it. The first word itself is Duty. Given this, the Man from Madras Musings wonders as to the logic of declaring a public holiday on the day of the leader’s centenary. Not only did government servants, who ought to have been slaving away at their desks on such a red letter day stay at home and no doubt watched mega serials on television, banks were declared closed as well. And this when the half yearly closing of accounts was nigh! Then there was an appeal to private organisations to close as well. Fortunately many did not pay heed to this and chose to pay their homage to the leader by working harder. But that did not prevent a few local toughs from calling at some offices and demanding that they close down in keeping with the directive from “up above”. How does all this tie up with Duty, MMM ponders. And does Discipline mean pasting posters concerning the centenary on all available spaces?
For months now, the Man from Madras Musings has noticed that the automated announcements at the Central Station, which inform us in dulcet tones over the public address system about the arrival and departure of trains has been malfunctioning. Given that it has to announce in three languages, namely English, Tamil and Hindi, it has no doubt gone around the bend. Consequently it leaves out some key chunks of information and the announcements now go something like this:
“Train number (blank), Bangalore Mail going to Bangalore from Chennai will leave from platform no 3 at 11.15 pm”
“Train number 2657, (blank) going to Bangalore from Chennai will leave from platform no 3 at 11.15 pm”
“Train number 2657, Bangalore Mail going to (blank) from Chennai will leave from platform no 3 at 11.15 pm”
“Train number 2657, Bangalore Mail going to Bangalore from will leave from platform no 3 at 11.15 pm”
And so on. You get the picture. So if you need the complete information, you need to stand near the PA system, sharpen your ears above the general din and wait till a full round of announcements in three languages complete with all the iterations is over. And this takes time. And so MMM prefers the electronic display board instead. But then, like all good systems, this too is fallible. For further details see accompanying photograph taken by MMM on 9th October. For those whose eyesight is not what is ought to be, MMM gives further details. As per the display board, the Bangalore Mail terminates at Alleppey while the Yercaud Express terminates at Erode and the Alleppey Express terminates at Dhanbad. Someone has evidently blundered. MMM hopes that this is not a portent of further joys ahead.