The Chief has this thing about the postman’s knock. He writes about it frequently. The Man from Madras Musings is not so enamoured of the game and less so ever since the Chief, in a moment of weakness, installed email and got MMM to administer the daily quota of fan communication that comes to our beloved publication – Chennai Chirpings, oops sorry Chief – Madras Musings.

Each morning, MMM’s hand shakes visibly as he logs on to mail account to see what has come in. Now you may wonder why, and in order to elucidate, MMM gives you a sample. Last week there came in an email that had ‘accusatory’ written all over it. The correspondent began by saying that she was most unhappy with Madras Musings’ delivery. She had, she said, paid for an annual subscription and was not receiving the publication. Of course, this is a common enough complaint upon which MMM has ceased to dwell, chiefly because the postal department (not of Madras Musings which, many people assume, separately exists, but that of the Government of India) is very sensitive to criticism.

But to get back to the email. Upon giving it a cursory read, MMM was about to shoot off the customary apology (‘We know how you feel but there is very little we can do, etc’) when a line caught his attention. Four digit figures were mentioned as subscription and it said that Madras Musings had had the temerity to charge the correspondent the same figure twice but had not delivered even once. It was then that MMM sat up and took notice. Was the Chief in some secret extortion racket, he wondered. What was all this talk of four-figure numbers about which we at MM have no knowledge?

The mail also had another cryptic mention about the weight of each consignment, which puzzled MMM further. After all, we at MM are known for writing on weighty matters but then, surely, nobody could accuse our eight-sheeter tabloid of being heavy in matters of avoirdupois. And then the matter was cleared up. The writer had problems with a well-known monthly that from its name would suggest that the reader who reads it could assimilate his food better. The publication in question was known at one time for sections such as Humour in Uniform, Laughter is the Best Medicine, and It Pays to Enrich Your Word Power. It took a while for MMM to then prepare a reply that requested the writer to please send the missive elsewhere. There has been no response since. Perhaps the reader is digesting MMM’s email before tossing a broadside at the other publication.

If this is one variety, we also have another kind. There is a group of railway users in southern Tamil Nadu who appear to think that their protests and criticisms of their chosen mode of transport should appear each fortnight in Madras Musings. And when it does not, their reaction is bitter. There is a college way down in the State and its Public Relations Department thinks that all the doings of its founder, beyond routine ablutions, must find space in MM. Towards this end they are prepared to fling gold at MMM but he has proven immovable. They have not yet given up hope. It takes all kinds to keep Madras Musings moving.