Short and Snappy dated 15th March 2009


Zigzag dig


The Man from Madras Musings is not too sure, but he thinks it is the Bible which states that the left hand ought to never know what the right hand does. The good book mentions this in the context of good deeds and if road building is not a good deed then MMM would like to know as to what is. And sure enough, when it comes to roads and tending to them in sickness and in health, more the former than the latter (MMM apologises that the last bit sounds like a typical marriage invitation of Madras origin), the authorities follow the good book to the word. And the best instance of this is what is happening to TTK Road.


A great dig is in progress from the foot of the flyover along the left hand side of the road as you face the Music Academy. This is for the laying of cables which as anyone in our city knows is the favourite pastime of those in charge of roads and ranks a level higher than the laying of drains. Whenever time hangs heavy on the hands of the authorities, they fill it in by digging roads to lay cables. At this rate, the undersides of our roads will have more cables than a space bound vehicle.


So MMM, as he drives along this stretch, is forced increasingly to the right limited in this effort only by the median which divides the up stretch of the road from the down. This moving to the right on what MMM would like to think of as the Zig axis continues till you cross the Narada Gana Sabha where the great dig ceases. But here the challenge is from the right where median laying is in progress. Huge granite blocks (Dick Whittington, had he come to Chennai would have realised that the streets of this city are paved in granite) litter the middle of the road and so those who have all along been driving to the right, now have to sharply alter course and move over to the Zag axis, which means closer to the extreme left of the road. Surely whoever is in charge of such road works would have had the sense to prevent two major repair activities from progressing at the same time and that too on opposite sides of the same stretch? And even if the cable laying was priority surely the median was not. But then that is Governance for you. Lack of coordination is the catch phrase and motto. What will happen when the zigging dig and the zagging median eventually meet? Perhaps that may never occur for each one appears to be competing with the other on being slower. And even if they do, what of it? Our traffic will move on.


Private eye


They have finally come to Chennai! The Man from Madras Musings alludes to the cameras that are being installed at important signals to detect traffic violations. And the effect is already palpable. People are more careful when it comes to signals and slow down while the lights change. This of course does not include Government vehicles which are above the law. Here, MMM will show off his Latin wherein there is the expression “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? which as you know is taken from Juvenal and means “Who guards the guards”?

Be that as it may, our guards, meaning our policemen are also relaxed with the arrival of the camera. They don’t need to watch out for signal jumpers and road hogs all of whom are noted by the Great Eye above which like that of Mars, threatens and commands. They are saved of the labour of vainly running after the errant vehicle, failing in the chase, noting the number with difficulty, memorizing it, feeling around near the ample paunch for the grubby notebook all wet with honest sweat and finally writing down the number. In fact there is one constable, often on duty (if you can call it that) at the Mandaveli signal who is always on the cell-phone. But the pity of it all is that the signal lights themselves don’t work. Or they are switched off during peak traffic hours. And so to what purpose the cameras? They sure look good.


Thwarted by T Nagar


We continue with this series. The Man from Madras Musings is sure that the regulars remember that MMM was puzzled at Padi, confused by Kathipara and vexed with Vadapalani. And now he vents his ire on T Nagar.


The other day MMM had to go for a meeting at a hotel on Tirumalai Pillai Road. Having consulted his faithful map of Chennai, MMM decided to go along Kodambakkam High Road and turn left at the Valluvar Kottam signal and enter Tirumalai Pillai Road. It all worked like magic. The roads were clear and within a short while MMM was on the desired road. “We’ve made it in good time” said MMM to his dear lady not realising that fate or to be precise, Chennai Police, was even then chuckling to itself anticipating the fun ahead. Sure enough, within a short distance, MMM found a no entry sign which indicated that Tirumalai Pillai Road became a one way from then on and in case MMM wished to avoid action by law, he had better turn right. From this junction, even as MMM turned right, he could see the hotel which was his destination. Its lights gleamed and twinkled, inspiring MMM to drive quickly down the side street on the right, turn left, turn left once again and come back to Tirumalai Road. MMM was reminded of saints of yore who burst into song on seeing the distant spire of the temple to which they had all along aspired to come. It was usually at this juncture in their lives that saints met with some great obstacle.


St. MMM fared no better. On reaching Tirumalai Pillai road once again, he found he had taken a turn earlier than the one he ought to have taken to reach the hotel. Even as he vacillated MMM was hooted at and sworn at by those behind, all of them in a hurry to reach their destination. MMM does not know about his readers, but under such circumstances his brain ceases to function. It appeared to him that there wer no entry signs on all sides. Notwithstanding the ire of his good lady, MMM parked the car on a side street and having extended his arm to her, he and she faded into the sunset. It was a fairly good walk. The spires of the hotel gave encouragement but MMM chose not to sing. His lips moved, but they were giving expression to hymns of hate against those who plan our traffic movement and conveniently forget to put up signboards and directions.


To cut a long story short, MMM and lady reached the event, but those present remarked that MMM was not himself. Who would be, with the fear of a clamp being placed on the car wheel looming large all the while? But all ended well. On return, MMM found the care was free and untouched by the arm of the law. But if you care to come to MMM’s house, you will see him occupied in making some alterations to the map he consulted.


Moolah by mail


Chief! We are rich! Or we are going to be! Every day, ever since you put him on the email, the Man from Madras Musings is receiving mails from sons or daughters or widows of erstwhile dictators of African countries offering to share their millions with MMM once he gives them his account number. What do you think chief? The latest is from the mother of some late lamented warlord who thinks MMM is the man she can trust. Makes you feel sort of wanted eh? Pun fully intended.