The Man from Madras Musings had driven up to Fort St George. No casual visitor to the museum was he; on the other hand, he was calling on an important functionary of the Government. Alighting at the gate, he bade his driver to park at the lot provided for this opposite the Fort. He was entering the gate on foot when a safari-clad representative of the Law, complete with walkie-talkie but mercifully no gun, halted MMM and the chauffeur-driven car. Where did MMM think he was going asked the cop. MMM explained that he had come for a meeting and that as he knew that the Fort was short on parking space, he had asked his driver to drop him at the gate.

Did MMM not know that walking in through the gate was disallowed, asked the custodian of the gate. MMM said he did not and was prepared to go back and return through another entrance. That would not do, said the keeper-of-the-peace, for it would entail walking out through the gate which was also disallowed. Matters had reached an impasse and MMM’s vehicle was blocking the entrance. There was a sudden barking on the walkie-talkie. From the tone of it MMM could guess that someone important was en-route to the Fort and that if MMM and his vehicle were not cleared out at once, there would be hell to pay. The bark was not decipherable, but it made it clear that if MMM and car were to be dumped into the moat, it could not care less.

The man who had blocked MMM saluted the walkie-talkie and replaced it. He then mopped his brow, opened MMM’s car and pushed MMM in. “Get on, get on,” he pleaded. “But where to?” asked MMM. From his glare MMM could make out that the man wanted MMM to go to perdition. But he had also decided that MMM was better as a friend than a foe. “Please go ahead, Sir,” he said.

It was MMM’s turn to point out to him that he had earlier forbidden MMM from going in. “Oh that was when you were on foot. Now you are in a car. Please go in and get dropped at the alighting point. Send your car back to the outside parking lot. When you want it, come back here. I will personally call for your car.” All this was said in an increasingly pleading note. MMM is kind-hearted, if not anything else. He moved on as instructed. But he could not help reflecting on the plight of the average pedestrian.