The Ruritanian coat of arms, as taken from Wikipedia

There is an ongoing debate in our (not-so) civil society on whether freebies ought to be given. The Man from Madras Musings leaves it to the intellectuals to take a call, but he does know that a feeling exists among a certain section of society that those who work on matters concerning heritage are angels that work for free and can be summoned at any time to give of their best. For the sake of honour, it is assumed, is why people work on matters concerning history and heritage and so they need be offered no compensation of any kind.

MMM had just concluded giving a speech at some location and had been gifted with the obligatory mug. There was applause, largely from those who were glad that it was over and so the drinks could begin circulating. Others were eyeing what are known as short eats while yet others, who prefer their meals substantial were checking through the corner of their eye as to whether the buffet counter had opened. MMM was just packing in his laptop when there was a pat on his back, and he turned to see a gentleman of full habit as the expression is – he had clearly made it a practice of attending such events and imbibing and ingesting whatever was on offer. He complimented MMM on his speech and extended his card which among other things also mentioned that he was the honorary consul of Ruritania or some such nation. He then said he would be glad to meet up with MMM and discuss the possibilities of some promotional videos boosting the state of Tamil Nadu back at Ruritania so that investments from that country could flow in here.

A meeting was arranged and MMM on the appointed day duly went to the rather plush office – uniformed minions bowing and scraping and fawning on MMM as though he was the one visitor whose arrival they had been waiting for since creation began. MMM was ushered into the presence and then the hon. con. held MMM spellbound for an hour – on his various acts of generosity, on his largeness of vision, on the relative prosperity of Ruritana (practically a millionaire in every home and what’s more with a desire to invest in poor old Tamil Nadu if only MMM got his videos right) and a lot also about how he, the hon. con. was pally with practically everyone up top in our State- several names were dropped as well.

After a while, MMM realising that all of this was getting nowhere rather pointedly asked as to what was there in all these videos for MMM. The hon. con. swelled with pride – he lifted his index finger in the air and having seen that gesture on television before from a certain personage who has a fondness for appearing suddenly on that medium, MMM was fairly sure that what would follow would be a lecture on patriotism. He was not disappointed. Tamil Nadu, said the hon. con., expected every man to do his duty. The State demanded blood, sweat, tears he said. He also said it was MMM’s duty to ask not what the State could do for him, MMM, but he, MMM, ought to instead ask what he, MMM, had done for the State. And MMM ought to consider the prestige of appearing in such a video – the CM would be pleased, as would the Governor and who knows, even the PM. And had MMM considered – what about the impact on Ruritania? MMM could become a household name there.

MMM was not so moved. He simply stated a price for his presence on the videos and made ready to leave.

Such a price, said the hon. con., was sadly way above his budget. (What about the millionaires in Ruritania, MMM wondered). But did say that he would consider the matter and revert. He never did. Not that MMM followed up with him. Perhaps there has since been a coup in Ruritania. These things happen in them Baltic nations.

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