The Week is over and The Man from Madras Musings sinks back into his chair with a sigh of relief. The eight talks that Musings hosted went off well and were well attended. The speakers spoke, MMM mused, the veteran after-speech-questioners questioned and the food predators preyed. In short, a good time was had by all. At the end of it however, MMM is quite happy to get back to his routine. There are only so many hours in a life that can be spent seated on a hotel chair.
As always, even as Madras Week loomed large, MMM had begun to worry about the food question, namely how to keep the predators at bay. The pack, for those who came in late, comprises a set of people who charge at the food counters during the Madras Week celebrations and eat everything placed there – cups, saucers glasses and an occasional table cloth included. For his private amusement, MMM has mentally labelled and categorised each of these – gorilla, which has a huge mouth and a larger stomach and which keeps belching loudly after eating well, woolly mammoth – large and saturnine, which peers short-sightedly at food and then shoving aside everyone else reaches out for everything in sight, owl – slender, with huge spectacles and swoops down to peck at what is there, jackal – waits for others to charge ahead and then follows in their wake, clearing up everything that is there, vulture, which in sharp contrast to all of above is female and silently goes about her work, polishing the dishes, and the grizzly, which embraces all kinds of food, the only qualification being that they ought to be edible. To this, MMM now adds two new genus – penguin – a bird-like person always tightly packed into a black suit, and kangaroo – a woman who apart from eating well also put away significant quantities in a huge cloth bag, the contents of which MMM hopes were later given away to the poor and needy.
This year, with a view to controlling the food riots, MMM had instructed all hotels to offer only coffee, tea and biscuits. Five out of the eight complied and mammoth expressed its disappointment by grunting deeply before drowning his sorrows in a few thousand cups of coffee. But then came day five when the hosting hotel refused to listen to all of MMM’s entreaties and having cast him aside insisted on laying out food. When MMM reached the venue he was greeted with what appeared to be a scene straight out of the French Revolution. Foragers ran amok. Kangaroo was the item number of the evening, stuffing vegetable wraps into a bag, while water bottles were vanishing into another repository. She reminded MMM of Citizeness Defarge. The only aspect missing was the clicking of knitting needles. Order was restored only with the announcement that the talk was about to begin. This being considered by the predators as only the secondary and less important part of the proceedings, they continued hunting for food until there was none left. Days 6 and 7 witnessed the same unruly behaviour and then finally Day 8 saw order restored with just coffee, tea and water.
Penguin, of whom MMM referred to earlier, had another disconcerting habit – he asked questions in a fashion where he could always highlight his importance. Thus in a talk on healthcare he said he had been the key person behind the arrangements for housing for paramedics at the hospital chain named after the sun god. In a talk on a famed cine-villain of the past, he claimed to have been the protégé of the director who first made aforesaid cine-villain famous. Clearly penguin was a cock sparrow pretending to be a peacock.