The powers-that-be are focussing on one end of the alimentary canal, ladling out food of quality at throwaway prices. At least that is what The Man from Madras Musings understands from a casual read of the newspapers and a more careful perusal of posters, banners and graffiti. Incomparable giver is how the brain behind the scheme is being hailed.

Be that as it may, and more power to the scheme, what MMM cavils about is the lack of attention to the other end of the digestive process. Food is in plenty, but what of the er…waste process? The populace, having eaten its fill, needs to ease itself too. In the absence of suitable facilities for this, it chooses to do so in full public view. The process, the remains and the odours are not giving our city a good image. And MMM who, as his faithful readership knows, has to at times take overseas visitors around to showcase the metropolis, is at a loss for words.

The other day, MMM was wandering around the George Town area. The hour was early and that district was not yet its bustling self. MMM and a young friend were busy clicking away on a camera and at the same time were careful enough to see what lay on the roads and which could not be trod underfoot. Having thus roamed around, MMM and friend came across a particularly busy thoroughfare, crowded not with pedestrians, vehicles and vendors but with men and children going about what can only be termed as early morning ablutions. Some waved at MMM and friend, while others having decided that it was best not to be photographed covered their faces, leaving nether regions exposed. It was MMM who had to shut his eyes.

MMM’s friend giggled and pointed at a building just behind the squatters. It was a free latrine. And yet not one of those on the road wanted to use it, such being its level of cleanliness. Obviously it had never been cleaned after inauguration.

It was a saddened MMM who walked along, focussing on the lovely Indo-Saracenic buildings that stood on either side. And then, at the rear of the General Post Office, MMM paused. He saw a set of human figurines carved on the wall. For some reason he had never observed them before. And then having looked carefully, MMM and companion broke out in smiles. These widened into grins and then peals of laughter, much to the surprise of the few passersby.

Robert Fellowes Chisholm, the architect, was evidently a man with a sense of humour. And it was obvious that the nuisance that MMM had complained about earlier in this tract existed even during that master designer’s time. What else could be the meaning of this particular carving given the figurine’s manner of sitting, the satisfied smile and, above all, what lies below?

What is this man doing?
What is this man doing?

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