A bad picture of Owl, on the prowl

As you are well aware, Madras Musings celebrates Madras Week by organising eight lectures, all open to the public and each held at a different upmarket locale in the city. The hotels and boutique restaurants give their venues gratis and out of the kindness of their heart also provide refreshments for free to everyone who attends. But this has over the years begun to attract a certain variety of freeloader who thinks that he/she has to stock up during Madras Week in the manner of camels to see them through till August next year.

The Man from Madras Musings has been at his wits end on how to deal with these pests. He is thinking in particular of Vulture, Owl, Raccoon, Jackal and Woolly-Headed Mammoth, all of whom go wild on seeing a buffet spread. Woolly-Headed Mammoth in particular has begun to pack things away in a bag to take home, no doubt to see him through the long Madras winters.

It was in pessimistic vein that MMM confided his troubles to his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed. Having mulled over it, she came up with what was a winner – get the hotels to hand over pre-served plates to the attendees she said. The idea came to her on day 5 of Madras Week this year. Day 4 had in particular been very bad, with Owl managing to balance eight gulab jamuns, seven paneer pakodas and six sandwiches on a small tiffin plate.

The good lady’s plan was implemented on Day 6 and it went like a dream. The foragers were baffled. They withdrew into a shell and remained morose throughout the presentation. The next day saw them in reduced numbers. But the event on Day 8 was at a hotel known for its cuisine. And so they were back in full strength. This time they decided that after polishing off a pre-served plate they could stand in the queue once more. But MMM was too quick for them. Having noticed that they had already tanked up he made bold to ask them not to crowd around the tea service and take their seats.

This was not to the liking to Bald-Headed Eagle, which vented its ire on MMM for not being hospitable. If this was the way MMM continued to behave said Eagle, it had no option other than to boycott Madras Week celebrations it said. It had, it said, been a keen supporter from day one, year one, but now there was a niggardly spirit that was creeping up that was completely deplorable. In the midst of all this, MMM saw out of the corner of his eye that Mammoth had managed to salt away some food in a plastic bag. The last word in the epic battle of MMM vs the foragers is yet clearly yet to be written.