Audience at Hyatt

And so, Chief, here we are at the end of Madras Week 2016. And what a week it has been. And what a range of events – from talks on temples in Vietnam to books on science fiction, all launched in the name of Madras Week. Never before has any event so united such a diverse collection of people under one banner. As for the walks, Chief – what a number and what variety – street walks (sorry Chief, what you think MMM means is not what MMM means), food walks, tree walks, insect walks, saree walks, fort walks, port walks, temple walks, walk walks. And then you had these combo walks – saree and temple walks, talks and walks, walks and talks, only walks, only talks, talks on walks, walks on talks … MMM simply lost count after the first ten or so. So did the people who spoke, got spoken to, talked, walked and gawked.

To MMM, it was almost a December Music Season redux with almost as much debate over quality versus quantity.
Just like the December Music Festival, Madras Week gets its share of media attention, with reporters stalking event after events. And their thirst for information was phenomenal. When was Madras founded? Who was the Mughal Emperor who built the palace that became the GPO? Where were the stables at Kodambak­kam that gave it the name Ghoda Baugh? Was it not cruel of the British to build a moat just to keep Indians out of Fort St George? Who was Mr Cenotaph after whom Ceno­taph Road is named? Such wonderful queries, Chief.

We also had apart from walkers, talkers, gawkers and stalkers, some mockers as well. This year saw some people protesting against Madras Week, and that is a sure sign of its success. You, Chief, and along with you MMM and other coordinators of Madras Week have been accused of being in the pay of Rome. A rather prolix diatribe has it that we are all in it to paint our erstwhile colonial masters in a rosy light thereby getting orthodox Hindus to convert to Christianity. This tract was titled ‘Madras Weak’; MMM believes that the appropriate word to come in next is usually ‘sic’. Yet another write-up, this one an online petition, had it that Madras was a bustling metropolis even before the British came. MMM believes that Francis Day took the 19M bus to travel to the Nayak for negotiations and after they signed the deal they went to Buhari’s to celebrate.

These detractors were, however, enough to excite the media, which is forever hunting around for controversies. MMM received several calls from the electronic media wanting what they refer to as sound bytes. He bit them all off soundly and refused to rise to the bait. Controversies for­sooth! The debate, if ever there was one, raged before an entirely indifferent public and those who opted to celebrate Madras Week, continued doing so.

Having said that, Chief, MMM would like to remind you of his share when Il Papa sends you what he promised in return for our celebrating Madras Week. And no, MMM will not settle for a bible and a rosary. Meanwhile he looks forward to Chennai Week in September when Telugu will get its due.