Just to show that I did not neglect my larger canvas – Madras, while taking a deep look at the micro – the Music Season.

A bit outdated, but never mind.

‘Ringing in’ the Music Season


As the Man from Madras Musings wrote in his last epistle, the Music Season is here. MMM has been going hither and thither in search of music and what he has heard in plenty are the cell phones which ring all the time, right through the concerts. MMM realises that our music sabhas are not conducive to any kind of audience discipline and those who attend concerts view these venues as a kind of a cross between food courts and bus stops. But even among these comings and goings, there was a silence in the era when there were no cell phones. But these are days of high connectivity and everyone, just about everyone has them. MMM does not object to this, but what he does object to is the tendency that concert goers have of not switching off their cell phones or at least putting them in silent mode when inside the venue. As a consequence, just as the musician strikes an inspired patch, there is a loud jingle-jangle competing with the song and sure enough some has received a call.


A couple of seasons ago, those who received calls when inside auditoria would blush hotly and silence the phone immediately. But these days, even that courtesy is denied to fellow concert goers. Those who receive the call think nothing of answering it by bawling into the phone. Those with a semblance of sensitivity roar “I am in a concert” into the instrument. Those that have left such niceties behind continue their conversation which could be anything from an animated discussion on the latest cricket scores to something as mundane as where the salt shaker is kept. “It is exactly where it is all the time. Next to the cane basket with the broken handle. You would know these things if you just deigned to visit the kitchen once in a while”. These were the inspiring words of a matron sitting next to MMM. Barely had this finished when the man on the other side received a call. It appeared that there had been a bereavement, but it later transpired that the maid had given notice. MMM sympathised but it took all his will-power to control himself. But one of these days if you read the headlines “Concert goer runs amuck and slays six”, you will know what the provocation was.


Teacher, cure thyself


It is examination time again and parents are a hassled lot. The Man from Madras Musings is a kind of father confessor to many and one of his confidantes came to him with his latest troubles. His child, all of eleven, apparently had a rich collection of er… colourful words and the matter had come to the notice of the school which immediately summoned the parents. They were censured in a full Parent Teacher meeting and were told summarily that such a wide vocabulary was acquired from the servants at home, if not the parents themselves. The father rather timidly answered that the words could have been acquired from the school as well. Whereupon the headmistress drew herself up to her full height and said that was impossible as the school does not recognise such words, whatever that means. The parents were told to discipline the child at home and that was that.


But that was not the end of the story. Within a week there came a note, this time from the class teacher. It said that the child was not paying attention in class and was talking all the while to his neighbours. The parents were asked to look into the matter, failing which the note hinted, the consequences could only be described as dire. So this time the parents went back and tried remonstrating with the teacher. How could they control what goes on in class asked the mother. The teacher said that was the mother’s problem. She, the teacher, wanted peace and quiet in the classroom and it was the duty of the parents to ensure that the children realise that it is their responsibility to provide that.


Then came a day when the parents were summoned again, this time on the charge that the child was not shining in its studies. Not enough time was being spent on his schoolwork at home was the accusation. The father had had enough. What do children come to school for if pretty much everything is the responsibility of the parent asked he. The headmistress looked pityingly at him. Modern thought, she explained in a manner reserved for the less intelligent among her wards, has it that children come to school to have fun. So presumably do the teachers. The rest, MMM feels, is left to the parents.


The Brighter Side of Recession


The Man from Madras Musings was delighted to read the statement made by the chief of a credit card company recently. The chief announced that in view of the current economic debacle and the inability of many cardholders to pay up their dues, the company would exercise greater restraint in the issuing of new cards. MMM fervently hopes that this will translate into lesser number of calls from the agents of the card company, all of whom apparently fondly share the hope that MMM, who already has a card, will be game for acquiring a few more. Whenever time hangs heavy on their hands, the tele-marketing agents of the card company feel they should call MMM. Their concern at MMM’s well-being is touching but MMM would feel a lot better if they called a little less. Their desire to ‘touch base’ with MMM reaches its peak on Saturday afternoons when MMM has his weekly siesta. A typical call goes like this:


“Mr NNN? (or OOO or PPP. They never get the name right).


“No. MMM.”


“Oh! Sorry sir. Very good afternoon to you sir” (usually said in a sing-song tune based rather loosely on “How’d you solve a problem like Maria?”)






“What do you want?”


“We are calling from the Itty bitty bank sir. We are offering you a credit…”


“I already have one. So get lost.” (MMM, much to his good lady’s distress, is rather rude when roused from his slumber).


“Just a moment sir, we are not offering you a credit card. We are upgrading your platinum card to a vanadium card with a free add on uranium card for your wife and a plutonium one thrown in for your mother-in-law. Plus your loan limit is upgraded to Rs xyz lakhs from what it is at present” (all this in thirty seconds flat)


“I don’t need all this. So will you buzz off?”


“Sir don’t disconnect. Can we offer you a home loan…”


At this point in time, MMM has hung up, his mind filled with homicidal thoughts. So the next time you read about a serial credit card killer, you will know where to look.