Demolition rather than defacement

Those who follow the ramblings of the Man from Madras Musings will know that one of his pet peeves is the defacing of compound walls of private properties in the city. MMM is one of the unhappy ones who has such a wall and he has more or less reconciled himself to the fact that the political parties being meek, have inherited the earth and therefore claim ownership of all compound walls in the city. Well at least those walls that do not belong to the Government and those that do not stand along the few privileged roads from which all graffiti and posters have been banned.

This is election year and that means all the walls will be defaced to the utmost. This will continue till the Election Commission’s rules and regulations come into effect whereupon the Corporation will send out its minions to daub all the defaced walls with a special pink colour paint, the formula for which is a top electoral secret and is known only to the civic body. Then after the elections are over, the graffiteers can stage a comeback. Is it not rather ironical that the walls can be free of slogans and posters only during election time, the very period when you would expect such wall decorations to be at fever pitch?

That the elections are around the corner came to MMM’s attention when he saw a local thug owing affiliation to one of our political outfits staking claim to MMM’s compound wall on behalf of his party. This he did by the simple expedient of drawing a double-headed horizontal arrow from left to right and inscribing the legend “reserved 2011” followed by his party name. This means no other party can inscribe its slogans on the wall. What about MMM? He of course has no rights to his wall.

This year however, MMM decided not to take matters lying down. Taking a cue from the recent paintings of doubtful artistic merit that grace the walls of all Government properties, MMM thought of hiring an artist to paint portraits of all top-ranking political leaders of our state on his compound wall. That way, MMM could express his political neutrality and also protect the wall from defacement. But while thinking up the plan, MMM had forgotten an important factor, namely his good lady who immediately threatened to leave home with all goods and chattels as MMM believes the expression is. And among the chattels who would leave with her the good lady made it clear that MMM would have no place.

And then it was that a brainwave came to MMM. Why not do away with the compound wall altogether? No compound wall= no graffiti! Problem solved and all is well. For years when friends asked him for landmarks to come to his residence, MMM had asked them to look for the house with political slogans on its wall. Now he would simply tell them to look for the house without a compound wall. The good lady has grudgingly given her okay to the scheme, though not before commenting that it smacked of cutting the nose to spite the face.

In keeping with the spirit of that remark, MMM proposes to postpone the demolition of the wall till after the local thug has painted his (w)artworks on it. Then, when he least expects it, the compound wall will vanish. MMM imagines that he (thug) will be as sick as mud. MMM also hopes that he (MMM) will be around to see his (the thug’s) disappointment. MMM also hopes that he (MMM) would be armed with a camera. If so he will take a photo of the thug’s face registering anguish. If the Chief permits it, the picture will be shared with all of MMM’s little flock of readers.

No rules for registrar offices

The Man from Madras Musings is aware that our CMDA and the Corporation are sticklers for rules. They specify so many square feet of set off space for buildings on the front, back and sides. They are worried about fire safety. They want staircases to be of a certain minimum width and as for provision of toilets and access to the physically challenged, these are important requirements that they look for before stamping their seal of approval on any plan for a proposed building. And yet, the Registrar Offices, which are the places where all property transactions are registered, (other than the less important happenings such as births, deaths and marriages) do not conform to any of these regulations.

MMM can claim to be something of an expert when it comes to these offices, not because he is a document tout in his spare time, but because he in the recent past has visited as many as four of them. Having made a thorough study of these offices, MMM is firmly of the view that he can give a proper description of them only with the help of algebra. The premises are designed with a certain population of officers and clerks in mind and for the sake of convenience let us assume this number to be x. Presumably, the planners also assume that a certain number of the general public will come on a regular basis to these places to register their deeds, (misdeeds and misplaced deeds). This population can be assumed to be y. Therefore, Total Human Population expected at any time in Registrar office: x+y

Now what happens in reality is that those comprising x generally stay away in large numbers, having to attend official meetings, weddings, deaths, births (in short the very same things which are to be registered). And so x is in reality √x. y on the other hand, expands like a watered sponge and becomes, taking into account agents, touts, hangers on and the ubiquitous tea-boy at least y4 , which is definitely not what these places were meant to cater to. There is a shortage of chairs for the y category and even though several of those earmarked for x are empty, these cannot be pressed into the service of y. If there is one thing that those who make up x love, (other than official meetings, births, deaths and weddings), it is their chair. Consequently, members of y, irrespective of age, sex and physical health, remain standing.

As for access, most registrar offices are in ill-ventilated places with poor access. Several of them are in the first floor of buildings and can be reached only by staircases that have no standards when it comes to risers and treads. As for set-offs in the front, rear and side, these are a foot at most in length. And if they are not aggrandised by the touts and agents, they serve as convenient rubbish tips or better still, toilets. As for public toilets in the premises, forget them. The only conveniences available are for exclusive use of x apart from the one that is regularly locked, only to be opened when Minister and senior civil servant (super x or X) visits. Those in charge of these things must be thinking that by computerising all transactions (other than the obligatory thumb impression) everything has been made hunky-dory.


The Man from Madras Musings could not help listening to a conversation between two middle-aged men about a third man (presumably middle-aged as well). “I am very close to him,” said the first. “In fact I live with him”. MMM was intrigued. Had Chennai finally emerged from the closet? Apparently not. What was meant was that the two lived in the same block of flats.