It is not often that The Man from Madras Musings is invited to attend Government meetings but he cannot escape them altogether either. And so it was that MMM found himself at one of those regulation conference rooms with ugly wallpaper and even uglier posters all around. He was ensconced in a rather comfortable armchair though, with two heavyweights on either side of him – mountains of fat and tissue, breathing in a fashion that is known as stertorous. Every so often these two men receiving phone calls on their cell phones and when they answered, the rings on their fingers blinded MMM momentarily.

Unlike earlier meetings that MMM had been to, this one began on time, what with the grand panjandrum arriving punctually and not wasting time in small talk. But much of what was discussed went right over MMM’s head, as it did over the two mountains flanking MMM. Presently one of them nodded off and his snores kept punctuating the discussions like exclamation marks.

Within half an hour into the meeting, a shabby piece of board, with two dirty strings dangling from it made its appearance and this was duly circulated among the attendees. This was the attendance register and MMM and the two mountains, among others, filled their names and addresses and also their phone numbers. Then came the enquiry for coffee and tea and MMM refused both, he having reached an age when Government regulation coffee and tea, not to mention biscuits, were not good for the lining of his stomach. But this was where MMM made his bloomer. Apparently awareness of what is good for health has taken root in our Government departments. The biscuits have gone and have been replaced by dry fruits – cashew nuts, almonds and walnuts. Coffee and tea continue to be served but they are also supplemented with buttermilk. MMM having refused had to content himself with watching the others munch away. The two mountains did themselves proud.

There was one other aspect that was of interest to MMM in particular. The main speaker began by asking if he could address the audience in English. “No Yinglish ji. Tamil wonly ji,” said the mountain to MMM’s left. He was clearly someone of some importance for the officer immediately switched, pausing only to sip some water. This is how his speech went:

“Hellonga, I have comenga to speak to younga about this new schemenga. What is this aboutnna, it will be really helpfulunga,” and so on. This apparently was enough for mountain for he did not object thereafter and proceeded to sleep the sleep of the just.