The Season of Knots
These are days when the Man from Madras Musings is rather short on topics what with the thrashings he received after writing on women’s slumber-wear (oops! Did not MMM say that all correspondence had ceased on the subject). But the Chief takes his role as Simon Legree quite seriously and that means MMM can only be Uncle Tom. “There are so many things left untouched,” says the Chief looking quizzically at MMM, all the while no doubt wishing that he had better material than this to mould.
Anyway, what it all boils (what a painful word in this heat) down to is that MMM has to churn up something fresh and you will definitely understand the depths to which he had sunk when almost the first idea that came to mind was a lament on corruption. But what with better and more supple men handling that minor matter, MMM chose to think of bigger and better things and that can only mean cricket or weddings. Since MMM is not much of a buff for smacking leather with a willow, you are left with the latter as a subject.
Come June, and if you drop in at chez MMM you will find the letter box which usually is filled with missives from suppliers, banks and tax departments, all of them asking for amounts long overdue, taking on festive hues. Ochre, pink, green, orange and a variety of other colours fill it, for tis the wedding season. MMM may not be receiving a shower of manna but he definitely is flooded with invitations to watch various couples tying the knot and becoming man and strife (on second thoughts expunge that Chief. We don’t want a battalion of newly married women in nighties encouraging an army of bridegrooms in shorts to set fire to our humble office do we?). MMM is not exaggerating when he says that it is quite possible for him to dine out at weddings practically every evening in June.
That thought fills MMM with a nameless dread and here is where you will see the truth of the statement that one man’s meat is another’s poison. For such a thought revives MMM’s good lady (also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed) like a watered flower and she goes about singing around the house, selecting sarees to wear and jewellery to match. MMM, who has nothing more than a shirt and trouser to slip into is left brooding and in Job-like vein he has been thinking of what he objects to most in these weddings.
The nadir as far as MMM is concerned is when you get on to stage to greet the young couple and find that you don’t know them from Adam and Eve. MMM is now of that age when he is definitely a friend of the parents and needs them to introduce him to the newly weds. But given MMM’s usual luck, he has noticed that the pater familias (or sometimes the mater), who was all along standing on stage and doing the honours chooses to vanish just as MMM and lady make their appearance on stage, with MMM nervously clutching the gift. And from there on matters go steadily downhill at least as far as MMM is concerned.
There have been occasions when the strain of making himself known to the couple (not that they cared two hoots) was so much that MMM forgot to hand over the gift and came away with it. There was one memorable occasion when he wished the bride “Best of Luck” as though she was just sitting for an exam. It threw a blight on the rest of the rather short-lived marriage, MMM is given to understand. The obligatory photograph is another harrowing experience. MMM never knows when the smile can be switched off and the result is he has either remained beaming on stage long after everyone but he has fled or he has walked off too soon and has had to be called back.
And what of the good lady you may well ask. Well she breezes through it all, rather like the Queen going walkabout. A gracious smile here, a word or two there, a dazzling beam for the photo and all this while keeping a watchful eye on the dining hall to choose the right moment to charge ahead at the trough. And so MMM opts to follow her leadership in these matters as in everything else.
International roads- Chennai style
The police (or is it the highways/PWD?) have done it again. Taken yet another step towards making our roads truly international. The Man from Madras Musings refers to the frenzy with which the city’s thoroughfares are having their boundaries marked. A solid white line is being painted on both sides of the roads, close to the footpath (which as MMM never ceases to point out, barely exists) and a dotted line is being painted along the middle. As to what purpose this exercise is in aid of MMM is not very sure. Is it a quaint ceremony like the beating of boundaries as was practised in English villages in the past? Perhaps it is for the benefit of those who usurp footpath space for various purposes. MMM is of the view that the solid line indicates how much of public space can be taken over by these people (for the purposes of vending, political cut-out/banner erecting, extension of shop-front space etc, in short all those things for which our roads exist). Thus far and no further say our police, whose lightest word is law. MMM also suspects that this could be a case of someone blundering and the administration being stuck with surplus stock of white paint. The easiest way out would have been to send someone out to paint the boundaries.
It was with a similar frenzy that the cameras were fixed on various traffic signals a few months ago. As to what happened to these afterwards is anybody’s guess. As MMM is typing these lines, he cant help glancing out of the window and noticing that the white lines are already looking somewhat faded. No doubt within a few weeks this exercise will be repeated again. But that depends on whether the paint will be available in stock then.
The road users however see these lines differently. Given that we are the only nation in the world which has adapted neither the left nor the right hand drive but a technique of driving along the middle, most drivers have now begun to assume that their vehicles ought to be exactly over the dotted line in the centre. But with both up and down lanes assuming the same and what with most of the one-ways having become two-ways once again (another decision reversal by the new dispensation), chaos rules. But we are quite used to that aren’t we?
What with the new dispensation deciding to take a diametrically opposite stance to that of the previous one, it appears to the Man from Madras Musings singularly appropriate that a monorail which is elevated is being considered over a metro which involves digging into the ground. Going by the same logic MMM looks forward to decisions favouring the pedestrian over the vehicle user as well.