Not what you thought but elections nevertheless for a body connected with arts and cultural heritage.

Several years ago, when The Man from Madras Musings was new to this city, he depended a good deal on people like the Chief to show him the ropes. And the Chief’s idea of showing the ropes was to get MMM, then a mere mm (man in Madras), to become a -member of various organi-sations – a book club that has no premises or office-bearers but manages several interesting meetings in a year; a stately social club where you need to be somebody, one way or the other, to get in; and a national organisation that was into -protection of culture, arts, heritage and much else. And so it was that MMM paid up and became a member and has remained a member ever since.

Of the first two organisations MMM will not say much beyond stating that he enjoys his membership. Of the third he is not so sure for he does not have much to do with its -doings beyond reading a monthly magazine that is sent out and getting much mirth from the spelling mistakes that appear in it. The latest issue for instance speaks of a Gerald Velsli and it took quite a while for MMM to figure out that they meant Wellesley. Also there are words such as ‘convernor’ (a convenor who converts?) and ‘liquour’. Besides you must have heard of Athangidi tiles Chief. And what about a message to a new lady member that she must have a ‘productive association’ with other members?

Anyway, all that is besides the point. MMM may also be biased against this organisation for he was the local convernor for a year and did not enjoy his tenure. Plenty of paper-pushing and a man in Delhi who kept asking for forms numbered in Roman numerals more or less blighted MMM’s convernorship. And so, MMM’s affection for this national body is but tepid. MMM’s assumes that this feeling is reciprocated in full measure by the body itself for MMM rather misguidedly led the body into a court case with rather unfortunate results. But every once in a while, the all-India members of this body spring to life. And that is when they elect office-bearers for the national governing council or whatever it is that heads the bureaucracy there. Emails, text messages, letters, phone calls (and these in the colourful accents of various regional variations of English – MMM has been referred to as yum yum yum, Emma Emma Emma, aim aim aim and many more) all of these are put to good use by the campaigners. All of them profess to be the true torchbearers of culture, heritage and what have you. As to what they do for the rest of the year, when they are not campaigning, MMM has no idea.

At best, from what MMM can see, these people, if elected, will get to attend a certain number of meetings in Delhi. They also get to have their photographs in the magazine referred to above. A casual perusal would give you the impression that these elected representatives did little other than hold up vinyl banners along with several others, walk around school buildings being kind to children and posturing in front of structures in various stages of ruin. They also do have a tendency to be seen in the company of district-level Government administrators, members of erstwhile royal families and sometimes, ministers. MMM also wonders as to what happens after many of the projects that are announced in the magazine are launched with much fanfare. Most appear to be photo-ops at best. The real work is done by the convernors at the local level and MMM supposes that that is what real passion is all about – not jockeying for some kind of office in Delhi.

In the light of the recent happenings in Chennai, MMM has taken to answering all calls from hopeful candidates with the statement that MMM’s vote is only for whoever sponsors MMM’s stay at a resort outside the city. So far he has had no takers.