The Man from Madras Musings is still reeling from the impact of the wedding season and those of you who read his columns will have no choice but to hear more on the subject. And hear, as far as MMM is concerned, is the operative word. For MMM notices that our weddings have become high decibel affairs which need to be seriously monitored for noise pollution and aural damage.
There was a time when weddings in the city were characterised by the nagaswaram ensemble with the only other sounds being that of the conversation, the laughter and the priest steadily intoning the hymns. Then came the reformist weddings where the priest was replaced by a respected elder who gave a speech and then supervised the tying of the knot. But all things come full circle and MMM notices that the priest has made a strong comeback and what’s more, having taken a leaf from the reformist wedding, delivers a speech interspersed with hymns. Thereby he demonstrates his superiority and durability no doubt, for the reformer would not be able to chant hymns.
But what everyone conveniently forgets is that priests do not speakers make. They can be better qualified as assaults on the ear. And, like seasoned speakers, they do not like to let go of the mic, as MMM has noticed at countless weddings. Last week, MMM was at one such event, where a near apoplectic priest, who had obviously done rather well at meals, was dominating the show. The bride and the groom had hardly sat down when the agent-of-God was off to a start, delivering a speech on the importance of the marriage. He chose to expand on the topic at great length, dwelling in detail on what could possibly go wrong in that blessed state of life. But the way he spoke of the pitfalls made MMM wonder if he was almost hinting to the betrothed couple that this was their last chance to break it all off and walk away into a sunset of freedom. Then it was back to hymns and chants for a while during which assistant priests did the intoning while the star-of-the-show busied himself with answering calls on his cell phone. He did not let go off the mic even then and those who paid attention could clearly hear what he was saying. And MMM chanced upon a gem. “Oh he has gone has he? Put the body in a north-south direction and I will be along presently. I am at a wedding.”
Shortly thereafter he was back on the air, this time giving a detailed account of what happens at a marriage. The audience was too busy talking to itself to notice, for after all nothing out-of-the-ordinary ever happens in any of these events. Then after a few desultory chants and a few phone calls (“Yes, you can buy those shares”), he was once again addressing his flock and this time he gained everyone’s attention. “We are now tying the knot,” he thundered and that made the audience go silent even as the pipers and drummers worked themselves to a musical crescendo. “And once that is over,” he shrieked above the music, “please don’t come crowding in and shaking the hands of the bride and groom. That is reserved for later. Now they must hold only each other’s hands”. Nobody bothered with that, for within a few minutes, everyone was busy clambering on to stage to wish the couple. The priest did not appear to mind. He was busy announcing the gifts, the names of those who gave them and if it was in cash the value also. Some of those who gave cash did not appear overly enthusiastic about their names and the amount they gave being bruited abroad like this. Then after a brief bout of chants, he was back, this time announcing the various shrines from where blessings had been received. In short he had the time of his life.
To his bellowings you just had to add the general high-pitched conversation, the noise of the traffic from outside and the oppressive weather and you knew for sure that the newly-weds had had a wedding they would never forget.
The loss of power
Every day, for an hour, the Man from Madras Musings is made aware as to how painful the loss of power can be. No, he is not spending an hour each day with one of the unsuccessful candidates in the recent elections. He is referred to the power-cut, also known for some reason as load-shedding. In the early days, MMM having come to know that areas in the mofussil had for long been putting up with this problem, was all for sharing their burden. But now his patience is wearing thin. Let them use lanterns is MMM’s secret comment, though he does not utter it in public.
When the idea of a power-cut in Madras was first mooted, a schedule was published and it was announced that the rota system would be followed strictly. But that was observed more in the breach and now MMM has made his own private schedule which simply put, means you can expect a power cut when you least expect it. There are days when the power is turned off at the main for a full day, ostensibly under the claim of maintenance. We must surely be the only place in the world where maintenance of an essential utility requires it to be turned off at the main! Or is it that the powers-that-be in the electricity department are working overtime to cover up for lack of maintenance in the past? Certainly, a cursory look at some of the transformers and wires give MMM that impression. His supply is from a transformer which at the first sight of a cloud in the sky turns into a fire-cracker of sorts, let off colourful sparks and when a drop of water falls on it exploding and throwing off pieces of rubber. Power cuts usually dull MMM’s mind and it is on one such occasion that he came up with this:
Monday’s cut is outage in very phase
Tuesday’s cut is low voltage in a phase
Wednesday’s cut is under the guise of maintenance
A Thursday cut means you take it as a penance
Friday’s cut is terrible and tiring
Saturday’s cut is really enervating
The cut that is made on Sabbath day, means the TNEB earns MMM’s curse in every way
Not one of MMM’s best but he is not Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
It was once again at a wedding and the event being over, the Man from Madras Musings and his good lady were trying to gain the attention of the valet-parking service attendant. This was to no avail as several others were attempting the same. But then along came a stentorian voice that imperiously asked for its vehicle. “It’s a Benz,” it said in clear tones for the benefit of the rest of the crowd and the attendant, besides implying somehow that being a Benz entitled the vehicle to priority. Now MMM realises why his own humble vehicle is often the last to be fetched by parking-lot attendants.