Have you heard of the Boat Club area, Chief? Like Hamelin Town in Brunswick, to quote from the poem on the Pied Piper from the same city, the Boat Club area has the river Adyar on the southern side and a pleasanter spot you never spied. You know the place – where in summer the river lies at the bottom of the road and there is a boat club at the end of it. En route are homes of several of ’em toffs. And then in winter the river rises until the road is at the bottom of the river and the toffs referred to above club together, procure boats, and nimbly row away to safety.

During the days when the river resumes being its placid self, this area is what is known as a walkers’ paradise. You will find people walking briskly around the main thoroughfares and the quiet side streets disturbed by nothing except the passing of a high-end car or two, the refined barking of a pure bred pedigreed dog or two and then sometimes the running in large numbers of black-cat commandos, who in the manner of all things government, have commandeered the best possible residence in the area, just on the edge of the river. Such is the sylvan peace of this neighbourhood that people from all over Chennai that was Madras and is now all set to become Greater Chennai, flock here to walk. The Man from Madras Musings is informed that even those living as far away as Anna Nagar, which if it had been in Europe would have been an independent nation, come here to walk. Being seen walking in Boat Club is said to be an indication of status, so MMM is told. As someone said to MMM the other day, if you are streetwalking in Chennai, it is best done in the Boat Club area. MMM is quite sure that by streetwalking the person had only exercise in mind and nothing else.

The Government, which as you know has only one agenda – namely to make life difficult for people – has evidently not liked the fact that too many people are walking in the Boat Club area. It therefore decided to break up such congregation, perhaps fearing another outbreak of a Jallikattu-like protest. MMM could have with confidence advised the powers-that-be that most of the likes who walk in that area cannot differentiate a Jallikattu from a jelly cat. Lacking a wise adviser like MMM, the Government got all jittery and decided to dig the place up, no doubt to prevent people from foregathering. This can be the only reason, for of real work there is none. Giant bobbins with cables have been rolled into position and deep trenches have been dug. In short, the whole place looks like a battleground.

But, as MMM, noticed, the walkers are a hardy lot. They have decided to continue walking on whatever little road is left. The numbers have not reduced one bit and even those from Anna Nagar are still commuting on a daily basis, rather in the manner of wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings. And all these immigrants to the area bring their cars, which have to be parked on the few flat spaces still left, between the trenches and the bobbins. The space left for walking is down to a bare minimum, but that has not prevented the walkers from walking, the commandoes from commandeering the place for running, and vehicular life from hogging entire roads. The end result is that tempers are frayed and road rage is on the rise. It appears to MMM that only the Government is happy.