The problem with running a magazine connected with history and heritage is that most people think that you are the ideal person to offload their creative thoughts. The Man from Madras Musings has often wondered if the late Chief was subject to so many phone calls that usually at some point veer towards “Let me give you an idea on what you should do…” MMM gets one practically every day. In fact, his hand trembles when he picks up the phone. One of MMM’s dear friends, Super Singer, has often asked MMM as to why he, MMM, answers every call. SS is known for being hugely reclusive. But then with MMM answering the phone and returning missed calls is a matter of duty and so he does that and suffers in consequence.

Regular readers of this column will be aware that MMM has in the recent past been asked to restore Bharat Insurance Building, buy the TVS property on Mount Road, and also prevent the sale of Adyar Park Hotel (that deal at least has since been called off, or has it?). He has also been made to edit some governmental gobbledegook on tourism. But the idea he received last week surely is the most interesting thus far. It all began with a call from a friend to say that a friend of the friend wanted to speak to MMM. Could MMM’s phone number be shared? MMM had to agree and sure enough there was a call from a gentleman who said he was from a community, more a language, that had at one time had significant numbers in the city. In fact, there was every chance that Chennai that was Madras could have gone off with that community and become the capital of another state. But then we had some tough negotiators here and so the city remained in TN. Be that as it may, the caller asked MMM if he, MMM, agreed to the fact that members of his (caller’s) community had made significant contributions to the city. MMM said he agreed. Whereupon there was an explosion of sorts at the other end. The caller had found his cue to erupt.

There followed a long monologue about how the community had been completely side-lined whereas at one time it was in the thick of things in matters concerning media, cinema, music, and much else. The caller blamed it all on politics, vote bank calculations, fall in moral standards, and probably threw in global warming for good measure (MMM had stopped listening after a while). During this diatribe MMM got on with other work, all the while looking out for that ebb in the flow when the caller would pause to take in breath. Over the years MMM has become an expert at identifying that moment of silence. When it came MMM immediately rushed in – he agreed with the caller wholeheartedly he said, and would the caller please tell him what he expected MMM to do. 

His friends and he had discussed matter over said the caller and had decided that MMM ought to write a book on the contributions of his (the caller’s community). Unfortunately, he and his friends had no idea as to where to look for information, but the caller was sure MMM would find it all. MMM did not bring up the matter of finance for such callers usually assume that MMM owns a bank and can therefore bankroll it all. “Let us know once you have completed it MMM,” said the caller. “And we will give it all the publicity we can. We are with you in this noble endeavour. Just get on with it.”

MMM hung up. In his view this call was of the same variety as the one with the lady who called asking MMM to do something about the pathetic condition of her old college. When MMM asked her as to why she did not do anything about it the response was why, she had called MMM to ask him to do something. Was that not enough?

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