Short and Snappy dated 1st December 2008


Recession research…


The Finance Minister (FM) is emphatic in his pronouncements that there is no recession as the country has not seen economic contraction in the last two quarters. While that may be a bit of inspiring wordplay, the Man from Madras Musings is not entirely in agreement. Certainly, MMM’s own wallet is contracting alarmingly and he is quite sure that it has been doing so for the last two quarters if not more. And as MMM looks out of his window, he finds the outlook dark, not because there is no electricity (there isn’t) but because this ill wind which has blown nobody any good is only getting stronger. And what better proof for this than the wastepaper man? MMM had decided to sell his burgeoning stock of newspapers (all thanks to the Chief who keeps telling MMM almost everyday to read this newspaper or that and it is invariably the paper that MMM has not read and so he has to buy it) to bolster his rather anaemic finances and had invited the wastepaper man in. But conceive MMM’s distress when in answer to his cheery hallo there was no response from the wastepaper man. He merely waved his hand and walked on. MMM called again and this time the wastepaper man came to MMM’s window. There is no demand for wastepaper he said. Paper mills are closing down all over the place for want of electric power and so he was not interested in any of MMM’s wares, charm he ever so wisely. Now if this is not a recession then what is? There are other signs as well. MMM’s hairline for one. Worry has caused his once alabaster brow to be furrowed and that no doubt is pushing his hairline to the rear. The only positive side to it all is that MMM’s waistline too is receding, what with all the belt tightening he has to do.


…And its brighter side


There is yet another silver lining as well. The ongoing recession (sorry FM, the Man from Madras Musings means the ongoing de-growth trend or the temporary correction) has dulled the craze for property in and around Chennai. Which means that the number of people who claimed to be real estate dealers, agents, realtors, consultants (not one calls him/herself a broker) is now on the wane. MMM learns that there is less money available and less people are buying those wonderful 3 BHK (whatever that means) with Jacuzzi, swimming cool, covered car-park, lawn, tree filled avenue, private beach and gated community offerings that were being marketed. This means there are less old houses being demolished with a view to cash in on the land. Which in turn means more heritage homes will be spared, albeit temporarily. MMM is all for it and hopes that the interlude will make more home-owners reflect on what they have and decide against selling or pulling down heritage structures.



Egmore by any other name


The Chief in his books has written on the various names that Egmore has had over the centuries. These include Elambore, Ezhumbur, Egmore, Elumuru and so on. The Railways, in their infinite wisdom have now added to the collection. There are now trains that run from Egmore station (that wonderful oasis of calm) to Mumbai and one of them has signs that spell the name as Igmore. The railway station itself has neon signs outside where the name, in Hindi, is spelt as Eshumbur. Now, the Man from Madras Musings knows that the equivalent of the Tamil ‘zh’ does not exist in Hindi, but could the sign not simply say Egmore?


On rains and drains


The Man from Madras Musings realises that it is not just traffic that accumulates at both ends of a flyover. Not one of the flyovers has any rainwater harvesting to speak off and all of them simply allow the water to drain down the slopes on to the road where it collects in huge pools. As most vehicles speed up on flyovers, they create tremendous splashes as they reach the road level. This might amuse those inside the vehicles but to those who are liberally sprayed with water, it is not a pleasant experience. MMM has been very much on the move lately and he feels that the Government is losing a good opportunity by not converting the flyovers into water slides, always a revenue earner in amusement parks. In case you have escaped the Great Splash, then chances are that you will still be doused by the Waterfall, which is the water that comes vertically down in torrents from the heights of the flyover. Taken at a flood, this tide in the flyovers could lead to a fortune for the Government. All they need to do is to charge a fee for the joy of riding down flyovers or standing below them. And in case they are looking for variety, Bump-A-Car, which happens all the time on our roads, is always available! And what about the Merry-Go-Rounds created by our One-Ways?


No photos please, we are Indians


The Man from Madras Musings is as avid an amateur photographer as any other. He is a far cry from those who hold forth confidently on apertures, exposures and such terms, but he knows what he likes. But what amazes MMM is that there is a general attitude in this country, at least in watchmen, policemen, guards and some of the less important but more officious government officers, that anyone who takes a photograph of any public building is walking off with a state secret by which foreign nations would benefit. The other day MMM was entertaining a guest at his club and the guest, an avid and talented photographer, was so impressed by the architecture of the room that he whipped out a camera and took a photo. The next moment an employee of the club had manifested himself like the demon king in a pantomime and stated that no photographs could be taken. When asked as to how in these days of cell phones with cameras such rules could be effectively monitored, the employee said that the club objected to cameras but phones were exempt! While such a rule in a club, which is a private body, may still be tolerated, MMM wonders as to the relevance of such a restriction when it comes to photographing a public building or a railway station. Just try taking a photograph of the Central Station, the High Court or even old Bharat Insurance Buildings and the next moment whistles will be blown, loud cries will be heard and you will be lucky if you are not frogmarched to the nearest police station with cuffed wrists. In these days of satellite imagery, what are we trying to protect? To MMM, this regulation is as outmoded as the one that till recently prevented people from hoisting the national flag on private premises. That was corrected by a High Court judgement. Do we need one for photography as well?


The December Music Season


The great season, Chennai’s arts extravaganza is upon us once more. And the question that is uppermost in everyone’s mind concerns corporate sponsorships. The last few years have witnessed generous patronage thanks to a booming economy. But will the city’s 200 odd Sabhas pull it off this year also? That remains to be seen. Perhaps the general gloom will make the music more spiritual. But all that does not in any way reduce the general feeling of joie-de-vivre that the Man from Madras Musings has whenever December approaches. Some many call it the mad season, but for MMM it is always the merry season. May it survive long.