Technology in the music season
By that title, the Man from Madras Musings is not referring to the ubiquitous cell-phone and the nuisance caused by it during performances. Suffice it to say that the cell-phone is like pollution. It exists and is all-pervasive and is tolerated. MMM, in this space will focus on other kinds, most of them being nuisances of the second grade, not in the range of the cell-phone which like Abou Ben Adam leads the rest.
When does MMM realise that the season is just round the corner? Not when the Chief looks quizzically and asks if someone can do a “piece on this music business” but when his inbox is flooded with mails from several musicians listing out their season schedules. The language varies from the grammatically wrong to the outright flowery. The latter in particular gives MMM the impression that the musician will not sing unless MMM graces the occasion. It reminds MMM of the theme of several songs which speak of the lovelorn maiden, but MMM, what with his good lady keeping a watchful eye, would rather not attend. Let the singer pine is his policy.
When emails do not deliver, short messages sent over cell-phones are the next route. Only, these messages are not short by any standards. A sample goes like this and remember that the average musician has three long words in his name– XYZ Sabha presents 2day 16th Dec @ ABC Hall. Alpha Beta Gamma vocal, Theta Omega Kappa violin, Epsilon Lambda Ro Mridangam. Your presence will make us happy and honoured. Thanks a lot.
There is the other variety that decides to inform you of every single award it gets. A standard format, once again on SMS is like this – I feel humbly honoured to get, by the grace of God and guru, to get the title of Music Treasure House, conferred on me by the Ga-ga Sabha. I take this opportunity to thank you for your support and encouragement without which this would not have been possible. Seeking your blessings and good wishes for my continued endeavour in this chosen path.
Reading such messages, MMM has come to the conclusion that either our musicians are really tech savvy with well-trained thumbs or they have techno-phile disciples who type these messages out. But MMM has only his own eyes to strain and read these despatches. MMM is not yet on social-networking media such as Facebook and Twitter and wonders what these artistes are up to on those platforms.
More on technology. The Man from Madras Musings has learnt another term which is au-courant. Plug-in is apparently a piece of programming but our Chennai-ites have decided that it is something that can be adapted to daily life. Everyone and their uncle has got plugs in their ears and go about the city, listening to music. The gadget that supplies music is not visible and the plugs give you the impression that these are people who have decided to cut out ambient noise by using these plugs. Which is a good thing if you consider our levels of noise pollution. And by that latter term MMM does not mean the concerts during the music season. But it is really scary when those behind the wheel also choose to plug themselves in and thereby shut out surrounding noise which includes vehicles swerving close-by, buses hooting their way through traffic and two-wheelers trying to gain road-space. MMM recently felt that he had seen it all when he noticed that auto-rickshaw drivers have also decided to plug themselves out.
The other plug-in is this recent obsession with peppermints and throat lozenges. This was a practice that was and is quite prevalent abroad, especially at hotel lobbies and conferences. And now it has come into our city as well. Every hotel has them and MMM notices that our locals have decided to plug their mouths with them. And unlike their Western counterparts, they do not restrict themselves to one or two. They generally scoop out all the lozenges that are placed in the bowls and keeping popping them into their mouths. And in case the supply runs out, then everyone is into chewing gums. MMM is not a pessimist, but he is quite confident that we are soon going to spawn a generation that has its teeth eternally clenched (thanks to the gum) and when it chooses to unclench them, flood the ambient air with menthol (thanks to the lozenges). MMM wonders as to whatever happened to the Indian mouth-fresheners? Gone the way of all matters heritage?
MMM was recently at a technical seminar where both the above varieties of plug-ins were in evidence. Speaker after speaker went about his/her business, regardless of the fact that most members of the audience had their ears and mouths plugged in. And then MMM noticed that most of the attendees had their computers open in front of them. A casual glance showed some sending out personal emails, others monitoring their investments online and yet others were making travel bookings. Another group was browsing the news or reading the latest gossip. So their brains and eyes were plugged in as well. Those that were not using the laptops were doing pretty much the same on the cell-phones. Now where did it leave the content of the seminar? The person who proposed the vote of thanks was probably being ironic when he thanked everyone for their undivided attention.
Flyovers and rain-water harvesting
The rains came, battered the city and left. As always, we were unprepared for it. The bad drainage, the pot-holed roads and the rising road levels ensured that we were flooded everywhere. The Man from Madras Musings is not certain if all this rain water was harvested. But he would like to suggest to those who are in charge of collecting water that the flyovers would be a perfect source of this precious liquid. Firstly, the natural gradient of the flyover ensures that water flows down and collects in huge pools at the bottom. These, when vehicles pass through them at high speeds (and most drivers think the flyover is a racing track), splash liberally onto the neighbouring service lanes. These lanes are lands that everyone including God forgot and so forms natural reservoirs. The water here can be removed only by pumping out and where is this water sent? Back to the base of the flyover from where they once again splash on to the service land until sunlight ensures evaporation.
It was with some sorrow that the Man from Madras Musings read an article in a leading daily that the Music Season began 84 years ago in retaliation against Christmas and New Year celebrations. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Music Season in its early years witnessed the participation of all communities including the British. That it has become restricted to a certain section of society today is owing to the way our city developed. MMM would like to end this issue on the plea that the Season ought to remain open to all. And as it is also Season when it is time to rejoice, MMM would like to quote Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol and sign off with a “God bless us, everyone”. Have a happy 2011.