memento plaque
A useless plaque – picture for representational purposes only and not received by me.

These are days when The Man from Madras Musings is invited to events galore and at each is presented with a memento. These can range from the downright ugly to the completely useless. Ranking high in these categories are worthless idols (oh where are those ivories and bronzes of yore?), coffee mugs of various shapes and sizes, cheap paintings, books that MMM would never read and, of course silk shawls. MMM is not certain as to when the last named became a part of Tamil tradition but then there you are. You can never escape a shawl.
And so, MMM, when invited these days, makes it clear that he does not accept any memento other than flowers and fruits. This instruction works on most occasions though some organisers do keep a shawl handy, just in case MMM changes his mind. He has however remained firm thus far. But a recent incident made MMM realise that fruits can cause considerable trouble as well.
The programme went off well and the time came to thank MMM for his speech. Members of the audience were waking up with a Where Are We kind of look and groping for their bags and walking sticks even as the organiser began a longish vote of thanks. At a certain point in this speech he said it was his pleasurable duty to handover a basket of fruits to MMM. He then extended his hand for the same and MMM stepped forward to receive it. Only of basket there was none. Someone has forgotten to get it. There was some mild laughter over this and profuse apologies from organiser. MMM waved it off.
The next day, MMM and his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, left for an outstation visit. On coming back a few days later, they were alarmed to note what appeared to be a foul smell emanating from the front lobby of the house. From under the door a sticky, red fluid was oozing out and it appeared a fit case for investigation by a sleuth or two. Fearing the worst, MMM opened the door to find a basket of rotting fruit. A note, from the organiser of aforesaid event, was pinned to it. Not finding anyone at home, the bearer had slid the basket in via a window and the heat of Chennai had done the rest.
The cleaning up took some time and the smell took longer to go. MMM had better stick to accepting shawls was the advice of his good lady.