At the Fort St George tour, August 25, 2018

Madras Week is over. Or is it? The Man from Madras Musings has his doubts for there is no sign of the programmes abating. MMM is still getting invites for breakfasts, lunches and dinners where he is expected to hold forth on Madras, Madras Week, Madras Month and so on. At the end of all that eating, MMM is quite certain that there will be enough of him for two or three MMMs.

With that MMM draws a curtain over his speaking and eating engagements and goes on to deal with another subject – a heritage walk that he conducted at Fort St. George. It was a free tour, with prior registration being mandatory, this to be done by email. There was a record turnout both for registration and actual participation. Now why should the registration numbers not be the same as those who landed up you may well ask. But MMM’s experience has been that for free walks, the enthusiasm to actually turn up for the event, especially on a Sunday morning, is nowhere near the excitement displayed at the time of registering. In short, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. It was however gratifying that such was not the case in this instance.

MMM enjoyed taking the people around. But what gave him greater joy and much mirth, was reading the registration emails. Firstly, there was the title – variously written as Fort George walk, St. George Fort walk, George Town walk and in one instance – just George walk. One email just said Fort St. George Resignation. And then the mail contents – I am a group of one ran a particular email. Yet another had MMM puzzling for long over it. In fact, you will not be far wrong in assuming that the riddle is yet to be resolved, for it went thus – Please refer the flooring details as entry details for the Fort George Walk.

Some others decided that this was the best opportunity to display their writing skills. There were whole paragraphs describing all their other social engagements and how this Fort Walk clashed with it and so could MMM please consider doing it again on some other date? Kindly advise admission and registration procedure went yet another, when all of that was already provided in the announcement itself. But what took the cake was a phone call. The whole conversation lasted 15 minutes or so and MMM will just give you a précis.
MMM having answered the call heard several false starts thereby indicating that a very diffident voice was at the other end. It eventually mustered enough courage and asked if it was MMM speaking. On being replied to in the affirmative the voice went silent thereby indicating that whoever it was at the other end was mulling over the matter. MMM was just about to hang up when the voice, having revived, enquired if this was the MMM who did walks. MMM said yes. There was a dead silence again. But this time MMM did not hang up and was duly rewarded. The voice, said the voice, was in possession of a pamphlet that said MMM was conducting a heritage walk between 7.00 and 9.00 am at Fort St George on a particular day and it was for free. It wanted some clarifications it said. MMM asked it to proceed, wondering if it was about toilet facilities at the Fort. But no, the voice had other queries – was it true it asked that MMM was conducting a walk at Fort St George on a particular date between 7.00 and 9.00 am? MMM said yes whereupon the voice said it was glad for it had read as much in the pamphlet but was wanting to make sure. It then asked MMM if it was likely to rain on the day of the walk. MMM said he did not know. How hot would it be if it did not rain asked the voice, at which point MMM hung up. Incidentally it did drizzle just before the walk and an overcast sky made for a very comfortable walking tour.