It was only a couple of fortnights ago that The Man from Madras Musings wrote of his interactions with the bureaucracy, which he dubs Babudom much to the distress of a close friend of his who was a very senior bureaucrat while in service. There is now more to write on MMM’s dealings with those in Paper-Pushing-Land. And this, by the way, is something that happened before lockdown.

This is that season of the year when Babus develop a desire to meet MMM. And so it was with this lady panjandrum (MMM does not think Lady Babu or Babess is in any way appropriate) who summoned MMM for an audience. Would Sir be free Sir to meet Madam in her office Sir on such and such date Sir, asked an obsequious voice over the phone and MMM agreed, he having never been knighted so many times before. When MMM was ushered into her presence, the Madam in question said her department was in urgent need of some content and it gave her great pleasure to give the task to MMM, who she said, had to get it all complete within a couple of fortnights, as the honourable minister had declared that he was going to inaugurate something for which it was required. MMM, having said that he was deeply conscious of the honour done to him, responded that the time was too short and he had other commitments and so would not be able to take this on.

This did not go down well. MMM could see that Lady P was thinking wistfully of historic times when such disobedience could have merited decapitation at the least. Having clenched her teeth and expressed annoyance, much to the terror of those in attendance, she said that the team will need to manage without MMM and in any case while Google and Wikipedia was available what did they need to worry for. MMM was ushered out. As he left, a factotum chided MMM gently for being so rigid and losing a golden opportunity for being of service to the nation. To this MMM replied that he had had enough interactions with Babudom to know that very little actually happened after much waste of time and effort. The poobah replied that this was not the case in this instance and Madam and others were go getters who would achieve results. MMM did not dispute this but deep down inside him there was a fatigue of dealing with the bureaucracy that said he had done the right thing.

The next morning MMM opened the newspapers to read that the Madam who had expressed such urgency had been transferred to the equivalent of a waterless desert. Last heard, the so-called urgent project had been put into cold storage. And now, MMM too is in a way in storage, what with the country being under lockdown.