Those who know The Man from Madras Musings are aware that he is something of a sociable man – he flits through several social organisations in the city – ranging from mouldy old literary societies filled with books, a musical Mecca, a club dedicated to sports, another whose staff is perpetually on strike and a third that is most upmarket where the crème de la crème of Madras society congregate on the verandah after a hard day’s work.
The last named, a throwback to the crusty old days of the British raj, has several dress regulations for its members and guests. MMM has long lost track of what is to be worn in which part of this Club, but he generally conforms to them all by the simple expedient of wearing as many clothes as possible when he visits, with a couple more add-ons tucked away in the car, just in case. In this context he would also like to add that women are not subject to as many restrictions – they are merely expected to be decorously attired.
Unlike several in authority, MMM is all for dress regulations. He feels that they bring a certain standard to institutions and need to be kept up. He therefore makes sure that all guests are kept informed well in advance about what they are expected to wear at this club. Recently, MMM was away travelling and his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, received a call from a friend. A group of visitors had come from the UK, said the caller, and being rather keen on seeing restored heritage buildings, would like to visit the Club. Could MMM take them to tea there? The good lady offered to stand in and then having read out chapter and verse about dress regulations asked the friend to inform the guests. What the caller told the visitors is not known to MMM and good lady, but when the group landed at the club it was shockingly underdressed. According to MMM’s good lady, beachwear would have been the most appropriate term to describe what they were clad in.
When she informed the friend and the visitors that there was no way she was going to get them entry into the club premises, she was astounded to see that the group’s escort, an Indian, was of the view that these being Englishmen were above such regulations and if any of the staff raised an objection, the colour of the skin would definitely ensure that they were let off. MMM’s good lady who thought otherwise decided that the best option would be to summon the club’s major domo, who despite his slight frame packs enough authority to quell a pride of lions. The official duly arrived and having given the visitors the once over sterally said that they would simply not do and had best make themselves scarce. And that was that. The group beat a retreat, but not before MMM’s good lady had reflected to herself that it was indeed ironic that a set of Britishers were stopped in tracks  by the laws they had themselves once laid down.
But the love for heritage was evidently too powerful a pull. A couple of days later the request was renewed and, this time, MMM being around, he agreed to play host. The team arrived sans escort, dressed as though they were off to a Buckingham Palace garden party. The major domo beamed approvingly and MMM’s good lady officiated at the teapot. Roast lamb sandwiches were had by the visitors and, if MMM recol­lects correctly, scones and muffins.