Once upon a time, when The Man from Madras Musings was a Child from Calcutta City, there were diverse uncles and aunts who harboured a fond hope that MMM would one day make it to the hallowed portals of a top-ranking technical institution of the country, known by three letters and having its presence at several locations. Blessings to that effect would be freely dispensed whenever MMM was made to prostrate before elders. Not that MMM objected. He too dreamed of it but stopped there.

For gaining admission into these meccas of technology involved a lot of hard work, intelligence of the first grade and, above all, achieving something called centum in mathematics. Towards the first MMM had apathy, of the second he had what can only be termed second class and as for the third, he had never got to know of what it was. And, so, MMM and the three-letter institution remained on distant terms. Not that this has ever reduced MMM’s respect for these institutions. If he had had a hat, he would have doffed it in salute at these pillars of technical excellence.

Be that as it may, of late the local instance of the three-lettered institution seems to have taken a liking to MMM, and recently invited him to give a talk. MMM was happy to do so. Just a drive through the verdant campus was enough compensation, though the institution did not stop with that and was most generous in other ways.

Going there, MMM had visions of entering an island of efficiency. He dreamt of cutting-edge classrooms, the latest in gadgetry and a clockwork precision in working. Everything went well till MMM entered the classroom, laptop in hand. This was to be connected to a projector that sat, spider-like, in the midst of a web of cables going hither and thither. This was connected to an existing computer. All very much akin to what can be seen in Government offices. MMM was pointed to a cable, which he was asked to disconnect from the computer and plug into his laptop for the projector to show his presentation on screen. MMM did as instructed and waited. Nothing happened. Everyone looked expectantly at MMM and he had to say that the treatment of projectors in sickness and in health was beyond his capabilities.

Hands were wrung and eyes rolled heavenwards. It transpired that the only man who knew how to deal with it was on leave. Surely there must be an understudy, said MMM. After much reluctance the substitute was summoned and he, having disconnected the cable from MMM’s laptop, proceeded to connect it back to the original computer. This done, he disconnected it again and plugged it into MMM’s laptop. Once again everyone looked at the screen. Nothing happened.

By now the audience, all energetic students, was restive. MMM, therefore, suggested that he copies his presentation on an external disc and play it from the originally connected computer. This was readily agreed to and, when implemented, everything worked well.

The power to the computer kept switching on and off and this was attributed to a loose contact which, judging by the way people spoke of it, appeared to have been in existence since the institute’s inauguration. The solution was to have a visiting card box pushed under the plug so that it would remain in place. MMM cannot say that his presentation was a success but the audience which had settled into a post-lunch stupor, at least did not heckle him.

Back in the security of his home, MMM picked up the external disc and connected it to his own laptop. There was a flicker and then every virus imaginable loaded itself on to MMM’s laptop. That was the super-hi-tech institution’s parting kiss.

So much for an institution that is internationally tall!