After the heritage walk at Armenian Street, Feb 28, 2016

The cell phone rang. The Man from Madras Musings found it was from a number he did not recognise and so let it ring. It is not that MMM does not answer calls from the unknown but it is a policy he follows when he is otherwise occupied. The caller was disconnected after the statutory number of rings and MMM thought that was that. But it was not to be. The caller rang back immediately and MMM ignored it yet again. When the caller called back a third time MMM decided he had better answer it.

Experience has shown MMM that there are only two kinds of callers who keep dialling incessantly – the first comprises those in an emergency and the second the kind that does not know phone etiquette. In this latter category MMM places some of the very elderly and also those working in the Government. As regards the old MMM has nothing to say and indeed, he does not wish to criticise either, but as regards the Government callers MMM has plenty to say, the first being they are the kinds who will never answer your call but will keep dialling you when they need to get (at/to) you.

Sure enough, it was a Government caller and all breathless. Between the gasps and pants MMM made out that the lady was all excited because a very senior bureaucrat wanted to get in touch with MMM. The caller sounded overjoyed at the very thought that she, the caller, had been selected by the officer to do this task, and she also managed to suggest that MMM was so lucky that he was being sought out by this member of the Indian Steel Frame. “So-and-So wants to talk to you urgently,” she gushed. “I will give you the personal number and you may please call immediately.”

Now MMM was not having any of that. “If So-and-So wants to speak to me then it is So-and-So who will have to call,” said MMM and also added, for he did not want to appear discourteous, that So-and-So could call anytime. The caller was rather taken aback but realising that nothing could be done, rang off.

Shortly thereafter the phone rang again, once more from an unknown number. MMM answered to find a new caller, the personal assistant to So-and-So. Madam was busy and so had asked PA to do the needful he said, managing to convey in tone that MMM was truly blessed. MMM asked as to what was it that was needed. “A very important personage from Gujarat is arriving tonight in the city,” hissed the PA, rather a tough task in a sentence with few sibilants. “He has to be taken on a heritage tour of the city first thing in the morning.”
Now this sounded interesting. Could it be one of the two personages that really matter these days MMM wondered. And then the voice went on –

“We have tried all the usual tourist guides in the city and they are all busy. Someone said you are a guide.” MMM hung up.