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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 5, june 16-30, 2009
Short 'N' Snappy

Paradise no longer in Egmore

It was not long ago that The Man from Madras Musings sang paeans to the Egmore station in these very columns. But now, like one of those remarks deemed unparlia­mentary in our legislatures, MMM requests permission to have those songs of praise expunged. Outwardly all is well. The Indo-Saracenic is gleaming and red granite is yet to spread its tentacles. But is concern for architecture all that is needed? What about passenger amenities and even a rudimentary attempt at traffic regulation?

It is now more than a year since the new entrance at the rear of the station was inaugurated. But traffic still continues to use the Gandhi-Irwin Road entrance which has very little space for parking or navigation. The entrance on Poonamallee High Road, on the other hand, is totally empty and looks like a football ground on an off day. Why is there no attempt at balancing the load between these two entrances?

The escalator service, as MMM pointed out earlier, is peculiar. There are some platforms where the escalator is provided only for ascent while in others it is available only for descent. Why this is so is beyond MMM’s comprehension but he is certain that some obscure government file will have a statement that this was based on usage patterns. MMM would like to disagree on the simple premise that a passenger who goes up in an escalator will have to also come down on one.

But it is in the matter of information displays that the station really takes the cake. There is only one display board for the entire station and it is located on Platform Number 4. Even this one is poorly lit and is easily missed.

The other day MMM and family were south-bound. What with books to review and columns to write, MMM never travels light and had to engage the services of a porter. MMM not being an expert in matters spiritual could not diagnose the elevated state of the man who helped him with his luggage. He simply followed the porter who having taken MMM to a platform (after much climbing up of stairs and coming down on escalators) led him to a carriage and deposited the entire luggage under the relevant seat numbers. Then, having taken his fee, he departed.

MMM then stepped out to buy something and accidentally took a look at the chart. This, given the state of lighting on the platform, took some doing, but conceive MMM’s horror when he found none of his family members’ names on it. MMM was just turning his eyes heavenward to pray when he noticed the name of the train and found it was not the one they were meant to travel by. And his own train was due to leave in ten minutes.

MMM does not know what the record is for darting into a railway coach, informing family members of the impending disaster, gathering up as many bags as possible, darting out with family members in tow, running down the platform, swarming up escalators, sprinting down the stairs (or was it the other way round?), looking in vain for information displays, clutching at passing porters (in the hope of identifying MMM’s tormentor who no doubt by then was the life and soul of the wine shop just opposite), finally getting the information about the correct platform, bounding in that direction, identifying the coach and finally sinking on to the seat, exhausted. But he is pretty sure that he holds it. The females of the species had some acidic remarks on the entire episode, but by then MMM was past caring. He was glad that he had made it en famille before the correct train left and that was all. The burnt child dreads fire, goes the cliché, but for MMM it is Egmore that is dread-worthy.

Banking burdens

The Man from Madras Musings had always had a horror of banks. No doubt his mother had been frightened by one. To MMM, the very thought of entering a bank and filling out forms to either deposit cheques or withdraw cash had been an act fraught with tension. And this was not helped by the extremely surly specimens that used to man the counters. But over the years these tormentors unbent in degrees and sometimes even gave MMM a condescending smile. These were occasions of great celebration for MMM.

Then came the days of private banks. Young ones would smile at MMM as though he was the best thing that had happened in their lives and would talk about becoming relationship managers. All very heart-warming no doubt, but what it all amounted to was that these banks did not want a personal visit and behind the smile was the message that the young ’uns would consider it a favour if MMM did all his business through the internet. They called it EFT, ECS and all kinds of other extra terrestrial terms. And so MMM did just that, though it took him quite some time to get used to it all. Then there came a day when MMM had to make out a cheque. Having hunted for the cheque book and finally found it (this would have never happened in the old days) MMM issued one only to find it come back like a homing pigeon from the recipient with a nasty note that it had been returned owing to a signature mismatch. It was now MMM’s turn to try and contact the young things but this time they were quite ­elusive. MMM got a lot of pre-recorded messages and very little live support. The call was eternally on hold and after a while MMM had the impression that he had been listening to Jingle Bells all his life.

Finally MMM did get through only to be told by a curt voice, that MMM’s signature had changed quite a bit and the computer had failed to recognise it. This, said the voice, was because MMM was not issuing che­ques often enough! But what about the ECS and EFT? Yes, said the voice, but it was entirely upto MMM to keep his signature unchanged. MMM asked if he could come in person and explain? No, he could not, but what he could do was to access the site, download a form... And there matters rest. Watch this space for more details.

This would have never happened in the old days. One of those surly creatures would have taken a look at the cheque, passed it and later informed MMM that he better sign the same way or else… The threat would never materialise anyway. It would later become a joke. Try telling the computer or the disembodied voice all this.

The dry season

Now that elections are over, most of the television channels have gone dry for want of matter. Oh, for the happy days of exit polls, swings, analyses and big fights. The other day, The Man from Madras Musings was idly surfing channels (you have to be idle to surf channels), when his eyes fixed on one of them which had a series of “breaking news” items coming up and this is how they went:

Home Minister visits Jammu and Kashmir;

J&K visit of Home Minister;

PC visits Kashmir;

This is first visit of Home Minister to Kashmir after new government took charge.

(Considering the Government is less than a month old, this information was no doubt earth-shattering.)

And on that happy note, have a great fortnight ahead.



In this issue

A need to learn...
Tiger! Tiger!...
A priceless collection...
Where they see, hear...
Historic residences...
Other stories in this issue...

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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