The Madras Week programmes that ye olde magazine conducts were also rapturously received, Chief, though you, rather selfishly in MMM’s view, chose to make it only to those events that interested you – nawabs, cricket and governors on governors general who played marriage broker. MMM being more duty conscious went to all. So did a gang of food predators that came only to eat at each of these events. And, by Francis Day! they did succeed in irritating everyone else who attended – the hapless staff at the hotels that hosted the events, the other guests and, at times, even the speakers. One of the last named, a gentle soul who is rather high up in Government circles made it quite clear that he would not want to be associated with the event if these feral creatures turned up. MMM being of a more socialistic bent of mind preferred to mentally entertain himself by identifying which animal species each of these food predators reminded him of. Here is a shortlist:
Woolly Mammoth – A large hairy creature with weak eyesight who makes up for it by a strong sense of smell that detects when the food is served. He then uses his powerful trunk (which no doubt has evolved into his hands) to twist and manipulate his way into the crowds and fill his plate.
The Boa – The female of the variety is deadlier than the male and in keeping with this, the Boa is of the distaff side. The glare from her jewellery blinds the others in the refreshments queue and, taking advantage of it, she slithers her way in. She also hissed angrily and spat venom about the way in which women panellists at a discussion on fashion in Chennai were dressed.
The Vulture – Tall and beaky, with a drooping expression, this is a gentlemanly predator that waits for other more aggressive ones such as Woolly Mammoth and the Boa to make way before it swoops in on the kill.
The Gorilla – Big made, with a paunch and shambling gait, it has a large mouth that can chomp away at the toughest of food offerings, including, in MMM’s view, a couple of plates and knives. It hovers around the refreshment counters long before the offerings are brought in, thereby cunningly reserving for itself the first place in the queue. Having begun eating when the food counter opens, it continues doing so till the time the programme has wound to a close. It also belches loudly in appreciation of what it has eaten.
The Love Birds – This couple is always seen together. Two hearts that beat as one, two minds that think alike. They cleverly divide the labour – he stocking up on the savouries while she forages among the sweets. Then he fills in the water while she loads up on coffee. They then retire to a cosy nest where they cluck happily at their success, all won by hard use of claws and beaks. They then bill and coo as they eat.
The Porcupine – A saturnine creature that not only rushes at the food but also insists on asking all the embarrassing and prickly questions. It kind of met its match at a lecture on the life of a diva where it asked the speaker as to what the attitude of the late terpsichorean was towards the birds and bees. “Pro sex and anti babies”, was the terse answer which shut the Porcupine up.
The Owl – A rather effeminate creature, it has a pair of round, thick glasses that it peers at everyone through. But watch it fly from counter to counter, filling its plate in a hurry and you could get Olympians inspired. Owl, on the prowl, is featured in above pic.
The Sea Anemone – It gets this name from a badly fitting wig it wears. A fixture at events since the time of Francis Day, it has lived entirely by attending corporate events, claiming to be a journalist. It is invariably in the company of a hermit crab that rarely asks questions or converses, but does itself well at the browsing and sluicing.
Given these creatures, we could well have the Chief playing the role of Noah. The only consolation is that these do not come in twos, except of course for the love birds, and the sea anemone-hermit crab duo. But it is MMM’s considered view that there is romance blossoming between the Vulture and the Boa. There was a certain tendresse in the manner in which he handed her her coffee, one for which he had to valiantly fend off the Woolly Mamoth and the Gorilla. She too hissed not unappreciatively. Watch this space next year.