Election Musings

It is that time of the year Chief, when the thoughts of the Man from Madras Musings automatically drift towards seat-sharing, campaigning, slogan-raising and the rest of the hustle and bustle that go to make up electioneering in our country. MMM is all for it may he add and in all humility he feels that it is time that the heritage enthusiasts of the city participate more wholeheartedly in the process. For after all, elections are when the people’s voices are heard if our politicians are to be believed, and it is high time we made heritage a people’s process.

In this matter Chief, it is best that you follow what MMM advises, for as is well-known, you are but a babe in the woods when it comes to such procedures and MMM wishes to assure you that he, on the other hand, has given considerable thought to the whole thing. Firstly Chief, we need a party. Since no political party appears to be willing to touch heritage with a barge-pole, it is best that we launch ourselves on the plank of eradicating untouchability. We need a forum for that and why not create one by ourselves- the Chennai Heritage Munnetra Kazhagam (CHMK)? In this our land, it is important that the abbreviated name of the party makes sense and as you can see for yourself Chief, the initials CHMK are chic, stylish and very much in keeping with the acronyms of ALL other political outfits in the state. Next Chief, we need an organisation within the party. You had better be Kazhaga Thanthai or founding father. Naturally that also means you are elected President/Secretary for life. We can if you so wish, have party elections for this, but let MMM assure you that all your Kazhaga Thondars (for that is what your followers will be called) will file nominations only on your behalf. You also need a newsletter to be sent to the “beads of your eyes” which is a synonym for the Kazhaga Thondars referred to above. But for that you already have a media vehicle – Madras Musings.

Next we come to the matter of party manifesto. Ours will be simple. Our slogan will be ‘Old is Gold’. We shall fight to bring heritage, hitherto an unmentionable, untouchable and most backward subject into the mainstream of local thought. If elected, we will ensure that heritage is in the forefront, sharing the dais, walking through the same streets and drinking out of the same glasses as such privileged subjects as real estate, flyover building and ground-breaking for underground projects. It will have its reserved quota of legislative time. Our party symbol will be a silhouette of the Bharat Insurance Building and if LIC objects, we can always settle for the Gokhale Hall. Once elected our first step will be to re-re-rename several localities. Kattupakkam will be Catawaulk, Mylapore and Triplicane will be covenanted to remain as such in the Constitution and Valasaravakkam will be Wazarawaulk as it appeared in Company records.

Chief, you in all your innocence may be worried about not attracting enough followers. And this where you err. It is high time we unleashed the powers of your regular contributors on the general public. Prema Kasturi will handle schools and college and it may be best that INTACH under her becomes the Youth Brigade or Ilaignar Ani (all parties have one). Chithra Madhavan will organise meetings outside temples, Ranjitha Ashok will take care of clubs, Sriram V of the sabhas, Pradeep Chakravarthy will take care of campaigning in Tamil and Biswajit Balasubramanian will be in charge of political graffiti. Anwar, Susheela Ravindranath and Sashi Nair can handle the press and as for street-corner meetings, since we do not want to disrupt traffic, we can have them in parks, courtesy Shobha Menon. Dr G Sundaram, having been in the IAS will be our advisor once we are elected to power. CG Prasad and Dharmeswaran Natesan will handle mailers and letters to the public. With that we are all settled.

In case you are concerned about where the money is going to come from Chief, let MMM assure you that you only need to form a party and announce it at a suitable forum (like say the Madras Book Club) and you will see that the moolah flows in like water. That has been the story of all political outfits for they have all grown powerful only through the contributions made by the beads of the leader’s eyes. We can also hope to do the same. Once we have declared ourselves political, we can also aim to form a television channel and thereby take heritage directly into households. A few mega-serials shot in George Town, Chepauk and the Marina will definitely help. Storyline is of no consequence and as for locations we can safely manage with car-chases down the Marina, street fights in Town, arrest and interrogation scenes at the Harbour police station (which is a heritage building) and the Stanley/RSRM Hospital for bedside sequences. That is all we need apart from a few scenes showing women either fighting or weeping hysterically. That can be done in any heritage home. So, what say Chief? Are we all set for a shot at the hustings? You just have to say the word Chief and your followers will take care of the rest. And who knows, we may be then called for seat-sharing talks. If so we will insist on our share – Chepauk, George Town, Royapuram, Mylapore, Triplicane and other such old areas will be ours. And if elected we will have the swearing-in ceremony either at the Senate House or the Tamil Nadu Archives.

The Woes of being a Policeman

It is not often that the Man from Madras Musings writes on a serious note and his lack of sobriety (in writing that is, for otherwise let MMM assure his readers that all these columns are thought up only the strength of water and milk) has often caused concern. The Chief has frequently asked him to curb his (MMM’s) levity. But there are happenings that make MMM sad and one of these is the plight of the traffic constable. Most of us on the roads curse this man whose thankless job it is to keep the traffic flowing when all of us are doing our best to jump traffic lights, move to the wrong side of the road, jaywalk or park our car in exactly the wrong places. And as the temperature (political and metrological) keeps increasing, the task of this man requires the patience of Job. It was just the other day that the news broke of a policeman having committed suicide owing to work pressure. The body was kept in the Royapettah mortuary and thanks to the comings and goings of several kith and kin and also senior police officers, the traffic became unmanageable. MMM had to travel by that route almost four times during the hottest times of the day. And each time he saw a lone harried constable trying his level best to keep the traffic flowing. The waiting time on all sides of the junction had extended to at least 15 minutes and each driver as he/she passed the policeman had only a nasty word to say about the way the traffic was being managed. But, and this is what MMM would like to emphasise- the traffic WAS managed pretty well. There was no accident, the vehicles did move, albeit slowly and the lone policeman did remain on duty, the heat, the dust and the pollution notwithstanding, in addition to the probable trauma of losing a colleague. So was it not an occasion to complement the man instead of abusing him?

Note: The Chief is S Muthiah; he is the editor of Madras Musings in which this column was published with a few minor changes.