The Ramaswami Temple, Kumbhakonam

In these days of lockdown The Man from Madras Musings answers the telephone more often than he did during the days of active work. And sometimes he regrets it. As he did the other day when he responded to a call from someone claiming to be someone representing someone else very high up in the echelons of the Government. The high someone, as opposed to the middle someone who called, apparently wanted to get in touch with MMM and this was his/her way of sending out a feeler to ascertain if MMM was in the mood or frame of mind to be in touch with those in Government. 

Now before you run away with ideas, what with there having been a change of guard in the state, let MMM assure you that the high-up someone was not an elected representative but an official who was doing some research on temples in the city with a view to setting right land records. The middle level someone was acting as per instructions and proceeded to ask MMM if he was aware of an obscure temple in the Town area. MMM had never heard of the place and said so. Whereupon the caller was plainly disappointed. 

“Cha!” said the voice. “We have drawn a blank wherever we have asked. Where can we get details of land ownership?”

MMM then suggested gently that government records may be the best resource. The voice was quite unimpressed. 

“Oh that is impossible. How do you expect us to go searching in various departments when we need the information in a hurry? We work with tight deadlines you know. I asked the temple priests and they had no clue. One of them suggested your name which is why I called and now you say you don’t even know of the temple.”

Privately MMM wondered as to whether ignorance of the existence of a shrine was tantamount to culpable homicide not amounting to murder or some such heinous crime but he held his tongue. He was also flattered that priests in temples knew of him. 

The voice in the meanwhile continued ranting –

“I also wanted to express my displeasure at the way temples in Chennai are so poorly documented. Just compare them to shrines in Kumbakonam, Thanjavur and Kanchipuram. Really this is a sorry state of affairs which historians like you need to look into.”

MMM promised to set right this grievous omission at the earliest. The voice rang off but it clearly intends to call again and lay at MMM’s door many other glaring lacunae in the information it wants. Watch this space.