A collection of nostrils, as seen on Zoom

There was a time, in the old normal, when the organiser of events had to do some work. Now, in the new normal, much of this is eliminated. Thus a person who hosts a talk had to book a venue, arrange for audio and projection facilities, fix a caterer and a menu for the refreshments, purchase flowers and mementoes no matter how ugly, for the speaker, and ensure there was someone to introduce and deliver a vote of thanks. The speaker for his or her part, was expected to deliver content.

Nowadays, in the new (ab)normal, as The Man from Madras Musings notices, much of this is given the go by. All the host has to do is to send out a webinar link. As these are free tools, there is not even a monetary outlay. Rather on the lines of the Tamil proverb that speaks of shoplifting a coconut and offering the same to a wayside shrine, all it requires is the creation of a meeting link. As for introduction, these days, at least as far as MMM is concerned, it is restricted to a bland statement to the effect that the introducer is certain MMM needs no introduction, followed by a nervous giggle. MMM at this point purses his lips. He is not like the Russian novelist in Perhaps Greatest Writer’s short story, who at a literary meet keeps thundering “Introduct Me!!” to his hostess.

MMM also notices that this is when most people are still logging in, after they have slipped into their vests and negligees (what do they wear otherwise MMM wonders). As for the vote of thanks, that is when people have logged out in a hurry, no doubt to slip off the vest/negligee. And the memento – MMM never thought he would come to regret the absence of the plastic Ganesha, the coffee mug, the mothball-smelling shawl, the black-lacquered plaque with silver work, the photo frame and the dead flowers. But now he does. Life is a good teacher.

The organisers are clearly evolving. There is one variety which after sending the meeting link asks you to share it with all your friends (hint – please bring your own audience). If even the ensuring of an audience is beyond an organiser, why organise an event in the first place? MMM thought he had seen them all when he came across a new one. He had just accepted a speaking assignment, much against his better instincts, when the organiser said he hoped that MMM would take care of the sending out of the meeting link as well, as he, the organiser did not know as to how to go about it. If this had been a face-to-face conversation blood may have been shed at this point but having conversed over the telephone MMM had to maintain sangfroid and in an icy voice tell the man at the other end that this was the responsibility of the organiser and not the speaker.