Forgot to put this up
After the party

And so the Madras Week (Fortnight? Month?) celebrations have ended. Or have they? The Chief was in his element- cajoling people to put up exhibitions, host shows, work on presentations and lead walks. And after they had done their bit and imagined that the labourer’s task was over calling them and asking to send the gist of their talk as a piece to Madras Musings. The Man from Madras Musings called it a day after the week, feeling weak and leaving it to the Chief to carry on from sport to sport as MMM believes the expression is. MMM however thoroughly enjoyed the programmes, especially the Chennai Heritage talks. And he enjoyed the hospitality even more. But not as much some others did. MMM is the last one to cavil and carp but the behaviour of some who came to the fest made MMM think that they had stayed on to feast. But it is a poor heart that never rejoices and so MMM is glad that everyone had a good time whether they feasted their eyes, ears or stomachs. In fact MMM has a suggestion- the menu of the day ought to be published along with the programmes for the evening in the rather natty brochure that the Chief brings out. That way those who come to eat can choose their locations.

What got MMM’s goat was the complaint of a woman (one of the lead feasters) that all the locations for the talks were far from where she lived. But when MMM asked her if she could consider hosting a few programmes in her sitting room from the coming year onwards she stopped complaining about this aspect of the talks at least.

Then there was this other person who felt Madras Week was becoming increasingly elitist. But when MMM asked as to why she could not help in making it more populist, complete silence prevailed and then she proceeded to talk of inconsequential things such as clothes and ceramics. The only thing that some people did not complain about or blame the organisers for was the wet weather.

A friend of MMM’s had a frightfully ego-flattening experience. He was scheduled to speak at one of the locations and received a call just as he was setting out. “Sir, I am a fan of yours,” said the voice. MMM’s friend, having paused for a moment to preen thanked the caller. “Sir, you are speaking this evening,” said the voice. MMM’s friend replied in the affirmative. “Sir, are they selling tickets for the talk?” asked the admirer. MMM’s friend said no and then the voice said, “Oh thank you sir. In that case I will be there,” and rung off. MMM’s friend did not know how to react to that. He could have taken comfort from the world of Carnatic music, where such questions are commonplace. In fact there is a theory that the art form survives entirely because of free downloads over the internet and “All are welcome” concerts.

Getting back to the Madras Week celebrations, MMM wonders as to what would happen if the Chief did think of charging tickets for the talks. His guess is that the free-loaders would all disappear. But then the programmes could comfortably fit into the sitting room of the lady who wanted them all close to her home.

Tech Troubles

Murphy’s Law or whatever that is which governs things going wrong was in full attendance when it came to technology during Madras Week. There was this presentation where the power failed just when the power point had loaded on to the laptop. That meant that the projector switched off. It was a small venue and fairly crowded at that rather resembling the Black Hole of Calcutta. While everyone was wringing hands and saying how sad it all was, it was left to the Chief to point out the bright side. The laptop was still working thanks to its battery and the Chief suggested that it be turned towards the audience and the presentation proceeded with. It beats the Man from Madras Musings as to how a man who professes to know nothing about modern technology can come up with such brainwaves. Or is it because he is completely removed from the world of chips (if they are not of the tapioca/potato variety), mails (what is not delivered by postmen that is) and does not believe in any form of electronics?

Anyway, the speaker did what the Chief recommended and everyone crowded around the speaker and peered into the laptop screen, reminding MMM of the old bioscopes where on paying a coin and being asked to look into a tube you saw London, Rome and Paris. Only this time the speaker had to press keys on his keyboard to keep shifting the slides and in the pitch darkness he could not see any. A candle was produced and by holding that over the laptop he progressed with his presentation. It was truly a wedding of modern technology with an age-old technique. The only aspect that MMM was distressed at was the sight of the speaker dripping sweat and candle wax over the laptop. And just as the presentation ended the lights came on as though a divine hand had pressed the switch. The Chief suggested that the slides be run though once again on the big screen and that was done.

At yet another venue, where a brilliant set of photographs concerning the Nawabs of Arcot was to be a part of a talk, the laptop and LCD projector, after what appeared to be a truly blessed union, fell out and refused to talk to each other. The LCD displaying a rather strong mind of its own insisted in displaying what appeared to be a brightly coloured mat from Tirunelveli which closer investigation revealed was caused by a loose contact in a cable. It was subsequently discovered that channels of communication between LCD and laptop were open only at a certain angle which involved a technician kneeling on stage and holding on to the laptop while the presentation progressed.

The highlight of that evening for MMM was however the behaviour of a cell phone. The man who had brought it had put in on vibrator mode and placed it inside his plastic topped suitcase. Halfway through the presentation there began emanating from the vicinity of this member of the audience strangely digestive noises of the breaking wind variety. People around sat up to stare in disbelief. Had he feasted rather freely on the vadas, laddu and tea wondered MMM. But it turned out to be the cell phone. It had suddenly begun to vibrate and was rubbing against the top of the plastic. The owner of the phone initially tried to ignore it with an airy wave of his hand but after sometime the variety of sounds became truly embarrassing and he had to hastily dive into his suitcase and retrieve the phone after which silence prevailed and everyone reverted to the presentation.


Seen by the Man from Madras Musings in a document profiling someone- “he is a heritage enthusiastic.” As long as the enthusiasm is there, MMM guesses he ought to be thankful. Also seen by MMM at a cinema theatre – “Entry only through backside”. There ought to be a law against such things, though MMM is all for freedom of choice.