There comes a day in the life of The Man from Madras Musings when he realises that he has nothing to wear. This, by the way, is every other day, for MMM has just one weakness – he likes his clothes, in which aspect he markedly differs from the Chief, who chugs along maintaining that it is comfort that counts and not style. Not that the Chief does not turn out in the best of Savile Row when he wants to. It was only the other day that MMM saw the Chief at a Consulate reception all suited and booted and being the life and soul of the party.

But to get back to the sad tale of MMM’s apparel – and how sad it is. Knowing MMM’s propensity to lament about the lack of suitable wear, his good lady periodically hauls him upto the various malls that dot the city.

There, under her eagle eye, MMM tries out various shirts and trousers, only to have her reject most of them. After having worn everyone down during the course of a longish afternoon, MMM and good lady depart, having made some purchases.

But nothing in Chennai can proceed smoothly and one of these is the size of these clothes. They are no longer what they used to be. Those who know MMM personally will agree that he is built on what are known as generous proportions (known in Delhi as healdhee type). He is broad where he ought not to be, and that means clothes that allow for certain roominess, especially in leg wear. That is, however, sadly no longer the case, for some madness has gripped all the designer labels in the city which are now churning out only slim fits. These begin with a waist size approaching zero and then go on to narrow legs. Imagine MMM’s plight when he has to try and struggle into them. He made bold to ask as to what had happened to the older and broader fits and was given a contemptuous glance by the sales help at one of the outfitters. The good lady shushed MMM firmly by asking him to change with the times. MMM would love to, but his figure no longer can change.

What surprises MMM is that the slim fit has hit the racks just when Chennai is going through one of the most obese phases in its existence. All around him MMM sees men with paunches hanging out, waists ballooning from trousers, and necks disappearing behind bulging jowls. Just by looking at them you can guess that our city would have been a second home to Julius Ceasar, for he, as you remember, wanted to have men around him that were fat. The same applies to the women of Chennai as well, but of that MMM will not speak, for he, does not bandy about with women unnecessarily.

And, so, given this tendency to put on weight, no doubt due to widespread availability of junk food and increasingly sedentary lifestyles, how are fellow Chennaiites coping with these drain pipe trousers and slim fit shirts? Very well, apparently, for even as MMM stood and watched, several outsized men grabbed several of the trousers and shirts and wheezed their way to the payment counter. MMM wonders as to how they can fit in. He assumes that they buy two of each and then gets them stitched into one.