The Man from Madras Musings, being a hard-bitten cynic, has always held that equal opportunities are a myth, and that discrimination of some kind is the very foundation of human nature. The late Chief was however truly all-embracing and disagreed often with MMM on his view. MMM and Chief agreed to disagree and left it at that. But since then, MMM has had several experiences that only go to reinforce his point of view. A recent episode only went to reiterate this even further.
As is well known, MMM during December is not so much the Man from Madras Musings as he is the Musical Mama at Music Academy and in that capacity, he becomes extremely busy. Phone calls if any during that time, become very terse, if they are answered at all. But then when someone keeps calling every few minutes you can be pretty sure it is from the Government and MMM finally did deign to pick up. In this connection it has always been MMM’s point of view that when the Government needs to contact you it will always succeed but when you need to contact the Government, you will never get through.
Be that as it may, MMM answered the phone and was greeted by a gushing voice that said that it was a panjandrum at one of the many departments of the Government and had been instructed to contact Saar (this being MMM). The conversation thereafter proceeded on the lines of communications between Queen Victoria and her ministers – entirely in the third person. The voice said it was delighted to have established contact with Saar as, it, the voice, had watched several of Saar’s videos on city history and was a huge fan. To this, Saar, oops sorry MMM, expressed delight and asked the voice to state the purpose of its call. The voice replied that it’s boss, another Saar, was responsible for a literary event and would be delighted if Saar (meaning MMM) could consider addressing the gathering on a topic of Saar’s (still meaning MMM) choice. MMM said he would think it over and after a few days sent by whatsapp a title – How Carnatic Music came to be printed.
The message had barely changed its status to a couple of blue ticks when the voice called. It was now all agitated. It had received the title it said, but it was hoping for something on Chennai’s history as that was what Saar (its boss) had wanted from Saar (MMM). To this MMM said that this indeed pertained to Chennai’s history and otherwise he would have never suggested such a topic. The voice had clearly not anticipated this and so it rung off saying it would check with Saar (its boss) and revert to Saar (MMM). A day later, the voice was back. In a triumphant voice it said that Saar (its boss) had vetoed Saar’s (MMM) idea as there was nothing about books in it. MMM replied that this was not so as the topic dealt very much with pioneering efforts at reducing what was till then an oral tradition to print. The voice was disappointed but gamely offered to check with its boss and return.
A couple of days later it called and very much regretted its inability to take on board MMM’s suggested topic, and so could Saar please give some other? MMM refused and said that he would like to know as to what was wrong with the topic he had suggested. The voice hemmed and hawed and finally, in a hushed whisper as though it was announcing a death said that sadly the Saar (boss) had ruled out Carnatic music as it was not acceptable to the bigger bosses in the Government. MMM could have fought it and also pointed out that none other than the super boss of the Government had inaugurated the Music Academy’s season that year and had sung paeans to music, but he chose to keep quiet. Likewise, at the recently concluded Chennai Confluence too there were plenty of Carnatic music events. Not wanting to argue, MMM simply said in that case he had nothing else to offer and may please be excused from participating. The voice sighed sorrowfully and hung up. A couple of days later it sent a new year greeting with a message to the effect that it, the voice, had not given up on Saar and would surely rope him in the next year. MMM has begun planning on several other Carnatic music-related topics to offer.