Has The Man from Madras Musings ever invited you home? Unlikely. But you must come and look him up sometime. Chez MMM, as those of you who have faithfully read this column over several years (and may your tribe increase) know, is the only surviving house in what was once a residential area. But that is neither here nor there. What MMM wishes to highlight now is an intersection of three roads just abaft the house (if you can call it that), and practically below the window of the room from where MMM churns out his immortal prose. This intersection is a busy one, frequently prone to gridlocks. It is, therefore, considered an ideal spot by political parties for holding public meetings. The police, who give permission freely, appear to be of the same view.

A couple of weeks ago a political outfit took over the spot, erected a makeshift stage, put up microphones and high decibel speakers and entertained everyone, MMM included, for an evening. This was one of those rationalist entities. Everyone was clad in black, the posters announcing the event being of the same hue. A few raunchy songs were sung, all from the latest films, and then the main speaker of the evening took over. Having thanked each one of the organisers (of whom there were fifty or so) and the vast numbers that had turned up to hear him (around five), he proceeded to attack God tooth and nail. The doings of the Hindu pantheon, by which he meant the divine beings in heaven and not those who run a beloved newspaper, occupied most of the speech. The blue God who wields the flute, and his amorous doings, came in for due censure. Then came a blistering attack on a God-on-the-hill who in mythology was born to two male Gods, albeit when one of the parents was in female garb. Towards the end he dwelt on the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost and the last named in particular came in for spirited badinage. The assembled throng of fifty-five applauded and cheered. Some of the more conservative elements in MMM’s neighbourhood were outraged. But MMM advised them to keep their peace.

A couple of days later, the same corner was allotted to a religious group. A band of the faithful was leaving to visit the God-on-the-hill, born to two male Gods. Everyone was back in place – the makeshift stage, the microphones, the speakers and the men in black. MMM noted that several of the organisers and attendees were the ones who had respectively organised and attended the earlier ‘rationalist’ meet. They wore the same black and nothing could have exceeded their piety when they sang the devotionals in a raucous chorus. On Christmas Day, carols were sung from the same spot.