The Man from Madras Musings had quite forgotten how that particular street corner looked. He last saw it in November last year and that too fleetingly, for as far as he could remember, this street corner had remained more out of bounds than within bounds. It was one of those unfortunate places where, whenever they found time hanging heavy on their hands, the Corporation of our city, the Metro Water and Sewage Board, the Department of Telephones, the electricity experts who now rejoice in the name of TANG(L)-EDCO and the Public Works Department, immediately went to, to commence some dig or the other. When MMM was young, he would go to the seaside, spade and bucket in hand. These men on the other hand, find their recreation with pickaxe and shovel.
As to what they were digging for, MMM has never been able to fathom. But dig they did. And in keeping with any hobby, they did it every once in a while, whenever they were not called away for more pressing things. As a consequence, excavations here took forever, thereby blocking up this junction for good. Buses that would have otherwise taken this route had all perforce moved on to alternatives that include narrow by-lanes. And as they thundered down these, they brushed the houses by the sides, sometimes taking away a window or two, at other times even a native or two. Here today, gone tomorrow was the policy of the surviving windows and natives.
The dig that commenced last year was touted as the dig to end all digs. Apparently, sometime before the floods, some wire of TAN(L)EDCO got entangled with some telephone wires and so residents in the area switched on their lights by pressing their phone buttons and made calls through their light bulbs. They had learnt to live with this but what they were not prepared for was the intermixing of the water and the sewer lines. That would mean getting your drinking water from your chamber pot and abluting into your shower. The residents drew the line there and protested. Then came the floods. And with that life got somewhat more complicated.
To uncomplicate it all came our friends from all the departments mentioned above. Stockades were put up and work began. It continued forever thereafter. The stockades fell off, leading to days when bus drivers, no doubt new to the job, tried to drive through thereby blocking off traffic for miles around. An even more frightening experience was to watch buses make a U-turn under a flyover nearby, this acrobatic act having become a necessity thanks to the dig. It was enough to take a few years off the life of anyone who happened to be walking or driving from the opposite direction.
One day, exasperated by it all, MMM made a post on social media asking as to when the work would get over. Among the plethora of responses MMM got was one from the IAS officer in charge of the Metro Water and Sewage Board. He requested MMM not to be so judgemental. The work, he said, was complicated and so it would necessarily take time. MMM apologised and then made bold to ask as to when it was likely to be completed. To this, the officer who is a good friend of MMM’s, replied that it would be over by August of this year. Came August and what does MMM see but that his friend the officer had been shifted. The work continued at its own pace. Now what was it that Lord Tennyson said about men coming and going but something else going on forever?
But last month, everything ended. The road was thrown open for traffic. But wait, the monsoons are just around the corner. MMM hears thunder. Oh do you?
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