O Chief! The Man from Madras Musings is well aware that you hold the heritage buildings of the beach road extremely close to your heart. MMM therefore also considers himself to be in loco parentis of sorts to the same structures and watches over their welfare. How would it be Chief, if MMM were to, rather in the manner of the man who drew Priam’s curtain aside in the dead of night and told him that half his Troy was burned, inform you that not one of those beloved buildings is now visible to the naked or in the case of MMM, the bespectacled eye? Chagrin would be your reaction if not downright despondence. Sadly this was the truth till recently.
Most of the pavements on the beach road, all re-re-re-re-rebuilt as part of several beautification programmes, were covered with endless banners, all acclaiming our leadership. Purple prose would best describe the contents of these banners had not most of them belonged to the realm of poetry. Into that MMM will not go as we at MM eschew politics of any kind. Suffice it to say that there were enough Hails and Hosannas to please biblical characters. You would not be far wrong in describing the entire sidewalk of the beach road as one long banner.
And guess how the banners were being held up? By tying them to the newly built ornamental grilles that were literally thrust down every beach-fronting building’s throat. If you recollect, the idea then was that the promenade should have a uniformly pleasing appearance. It still does – it is just that instead of the rather handsome metalwork that pleased many, we had an unbroken façade of banners that pleased a chosen few. What then was the purpose of spending so much money on breaking down the old compound walls and putting up the new ones, wonders The Man from Madras Musings? Those in charge may have saved quite a bit by simply pulling down the existing walls and putting up banners or, even better, painting the old walls with political graffiti. That way, we would have had the same message and the road would have presented a uniform face.
What puzzles MMM is the way the bureaucracy, the police and, if MMM may add with due respect, the judiciary, passively accept this gross violation. We have laws forbidding the erection of hoardings and banners in front of heritage structures, we have laws threatening us with dire consequences if we break or damage public property – MMM assumes that the digging of holes in pavements would come under this category – and we have laws that state that no public wall can be defaced. And yet not one of those in authority has cared to notice the way the political establishment gets away with such acts. Makes MMM wonder if such legislations and judgements are binding only on lesser mortals. MMM said all this and more to someone in authority whom he knows well enough to unburden his soul. The response he got was that while everyone is aware that the consequences of breaking laws is dire, it pales into insignificance when compared to the political establishment’s ire. Nobody wants to face such fire.
Anyway, MMM notices that we now have the election model code of conduct in place and so these banners have disappeared. Post elections, the model code will disappear and the banners will reappear. As to who they will then extol is anybody’s guess.