What with summer being here and showing no signs of leaving, though the Man from Madras Musings must admit that the heat is not a patch on what it was last year, the political parties, whose sympathy for the poor and deserving is well known, are going overboard in setting up water-dispensing kiosks all over the city. Regulars of this column will recall that it was just a fortnight or so ago that Local Melody, the leader of the Beef Jeopardising Party had inaugurated one close to chez MMM. This fortnight it was the turn of the ruling party, comprising the Tweedledum-Tweedlee combo.

Unlike Local Melody’s outfit, which put up banners clearly prepared when party supremo was not looking for they were all hailing her as the next messiah, this was an affair where the messiahs were were no longer with us. Posters and banners of late leader and the leader who came later and then went on to become late despite delusions of immortality were prominently displayed as were joint pictures of Tweedledum and Tweedledee who are appearing so together everywhere that MMM will not be surprised if they become conjoined, like Siamese Twins. In keeping with a party that does not have much of a real agenda, though for that matter no political outfit in our country has one beyond being elected to office, songs of first and original leader were belted out non-stop. MMM enjoyed the melodies for these were all from films of an era when music was paramount. But when he began reflecting on the content he began to have the feeling that this was a party that really needs some makeover and some fresh thinking to justify its existence. For how many decades can you survive by playing motivational songs of a sound vintage?

To illustrate, take the song that asks as to how long will leaders cheat people in this country. In the 1950s, in the film Mountain Thief it was perhaps a question to be asked. In 2018, corruption is taken for granted especially after leading lights from this party have been convicted of their hands being in the till. If I send out a command and if it is implemented, the poor will no longer shed tears went another number, this one from Son of Our House. MMM wondered as to where this grand plan fell through. Was it in the issuing of the command or in its implementation? Why is God a stone asked a third song and supplied the answer – because man is also stone-hearted these days (film – Our Brother). Now what is the party going to do about melting such people MMM wondered? Yet another, from the film Upper Class Girl, asked one Palaniappa to see the shallow ways of the Pattanam aka Madras aka Chennai. MMM fairly bristled at it, for matinee idol, and his successor all made their name here, lived here and died here. They took a peek at the mofussil only when they went to canvas for votes.

Perhaps the only song that still struck MMM as relevant was the one from the movie One In A Thousand, that hoped that we could all sing freely like the birds up there and dance with abandon like the waves down here, for we all have equal rights under a common sky and on a common soil. That is something that original leader, his successor and their common rival all failed to ensure. And so did all the other fringe players with aspirations to power. It then came home to MMM that if this wish had been fulfilled, all the other songs too would have rung true automatically.

About the rest of the event MMM will not write. Suffice it to say that it ran along the lines of Local Melody’s inauguration. The aftermath too was the same – an abandoned kiosk from that very afternoon.