From each according to his capacity

That if you remember was one half of the socialist credo, the other being To each according to his work. That may be applicable to mankind in general but when it comes to vehicles in this city of Madras that is Chennai, the Man from Madras Musings feels that the motto is From each in far excess of capacity. This may be applicable to the public buses which are forever bursting at the seams, but the same is more applicable in MMM’s view to the smaller vehicles – the tempo, the once popular-but later banned- and now still in use Fish Carts, the motorcycle and the cycle.

All of the above named are used to transport loads for which they are not designed. Heavy steel rods and pipes, gunny bags, a multitude of passengers. But the steel rods are the most common or should MMM say the most favoured? You can see them mounted on the rear of the tempos, on the fish carts, held aloft by the pillion rider like some noble standard on motorcycles (fortunately only one rod or pipe is carried thus and never horizontally) and on cycles, with the rider of the cycle wheeling the vehicle along. In order to warn those who may come too close to the vehicle, the transporters of heavy pipes, being the altruistic souls that they are, put up a sign of sorts – usually a small piece of red cloth or paper which is so tiny that you end up seeing it long after you have seen the pipe. There are also certain rules and regulations that such people follow. In case of tempo travellers and fish carts, the length of the pipes being carried has to be at least twice the length of the vehicle. This ensures that the pipes bend at the rear, almost touching the ground. That takes care of any frontal imbalance, which may cause the vehicle to suddenly lift up rather like a dog begging for biscuit. At times, the rods stoop so low that they rub on the macadam giving rise to sparks. It is a kind of a routine Dipavali for these vehicles.

In the case of the two-wheelers, MMM notices, the height of the pipe/ ladder/rod has to be such it can get safely entangled with overhead wires and political bunting. And when it comes to cycles, the weight of the rod or the load ought to ensure that it and not the rider controls the movement of the vehicle.

The other day, MMM was on the prowl as usual and he happened to see a cycle laden with bags of flour. The cyclist was more of a pedestrian as he was only walking along. But all of sudden in a burst of enthusiasm he jumped on to his vehicle and began pedalling away to glory. The man had obviously not realised that the cycle was obeying the bags and not he. MMM raced along to see how far this circus would go and he was amply rewarded. At one spot the traffic ground to a halt and our man had to brake suddenly too. He could do this only by jumping off and the load on the cycle was so much that it continued moving by itself. It shot forward and got mixed with a whole lot of other vehicles. The bags fell off, burst and engulfed the whole area in flour. Last seen, a terrific argument had begun between those who had been showered with flour and the cyclist. And a policeman, who had been a benign bystander thus far was suddenly galvanised into action. But MMM did not tarry to see what happened. Why should there not be some regulation in all this?

Where are the freebies?

Remember Chief that proposal that the Man from Madras Musings had presented for the formation of the Chennai Heritage Munnetra Kazhagam? You Chief may have shot the idea down, but let MMM assure you that several people have pledged their support and are assuring us of their votes. But, they want to know what are the freebies that we can offer to them once we come to power. Some have suggested white goods, while others are demanding cows, laptops and gold. The last named they feel would be a clincher, as our motto is Old is Gold. But then Chief, what with our limited purse, these things may not be possible. All that we can offer are some heritage walks (on cost basis). We can’t even give Madras Musings free, as we will thereby violate some Postal Act of the 18th century. So our hands our tied. But MMM lives on in hope.