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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 6, july 1-15, 2009
Short 'N' Snappy

Want to conserve water?

"How about this novel way?"

This precious liquid resource, The Man from Madras Musings is well aware, is on its way out. There are posters that predict that its supply is getting scarcer. Other Cassandras have said that if wars have been fought over oil, the next world war will be over water. MMM was recently at a local branch of a national­­ised bank in the city and had to attend a call of nature. When he went to the bathroom, he found a poster that carried messages on water conservation and then when he turned to the wash basin this is what he imagined. Could it be, MMM wondered, that the budget for the toilet renovation had exhausted just before the taps could be put in place? And if so, is the bank awaiting the next sanction of funds before getting taps? But what MMM also noticed was that the granite table top had no provision for taps of any kind. Obviously, then, this is an inspired method of conserving water. No taps – no water! Simple.

Happenings at Central

Too often, those of you who read the writings of The Man from Madras Musings have felt that he is more of a Jeremiah. Be more like Pollyanna, is your cry. Enough of these lamentations, see the sunny side, you have suggested. MMM has been of the view that there is no sunny side in many matters, but, then, he is happy to announce that this time he is prepared to sing the praises of a new system at the Central Station. It may have been there for long, but MMM availed of it only recently and, therefore, to him it is still new.

MMM is referring to the bus service from Central to various parts of the city. These are air-conditioned coaches that wait at the entrance to the station. Gone are the days when you had to come out of the building dreading the thought of having to interact with the aggressive auto-rickshaw drivers and their alternate blandishments and threats. You now simply stride across to the bus stand, look for the bus that goes via your destination, pay the fare and sit in comfort and, before you know it, you are dropped at a location closest to your home from where you can avail of local transport or simply walk across. Not only is this energy-friendly (imagine how many car journeys are saved), it is also user-friendly and, above all, it shows how effective public transport can be as compared to using private means.

MMM, however, finds that such a service is not available from the Central’s poor cousin – namely, Egmore. Why this is so MMM cannot understand but he hopes that this service will be extended to that location too before long.

Big fat weddings

The Man from Madras Musings has with experience come to the conclusion that it is easier to send greetings telegrams than to attend weddings in person in our city. If driving to a venue is tiresome, parking is even more so. And the weather being what it is, MMM is certain bridal couples ought to get their heads examined for getting married in such a lousy season and then inviting people to participate in them.

The more MMM reflects, the more he is convinced that South Indian weddings were not meant for the summer. The fire, the crush of relatives, the suffocating garlands and the overbearing priest, all add up to a terrible total. But what about those driving past wedding halls? Their suffering is as much as if not more than those who attend weddings. Most of these places were built or have been designed to cater to one-third or perhaps even one-fifth the crowd that comes and, naturally enough, surrounding spaces are taken over for what the halls themselves cannot contain. If this is not chaos enough, most guests think it is a matter of prestige to be dropped at the entrance of the hall. They just cannot wait till their chauffeur or poor head-of-the-family has found a place to park and then walk to the venue. And in the process of getting off, they have to indulge in some last minute conversation with chauffeur or poor head-of-the-family, thereby delaying everyone else waiting behind. It is not as though traffic in Chennai has come to such a pass that a chauffeur or a poor head-of-the-family who is setting off to park a car may not return the same day. And with the widespread use of cell phones surely they can be contacted at leisure. But animated conversation with one foot in the car and the other on the ground is an absolute must. It is almost akin to famous goodbyes that Shake­speare penned so movingly.

If this is not enough, MMM notices that great wedding processions have returned with a vengeance. There was a time when brides and bridegrooms (MMM included) fought shy of sitting in open cars or on horseback with a couple of mewling and puking infants for company, being led in procession with an off-key orchestra belting out movie melodies. MMM remembers that he was most vehement and not all the tears of aged relatives, who by the simple excuse of claiming that it might be the last wedding they would live to see had managed to get hundreds of bridegrooms to agree, could get him to budge. The procession did not take place and the aged relatives lived on to witness many more weddings. But today’s bridal couples are made of weaker fibre or, perhaps, they like these processions, for almost every wedding has these traffic stoppers these days.

The police is at its wits’ end and can do nothing beyond try and regulate the traffic that passes these processions. MMM is quite certain that those driving by curse the newlyweds bitterly. And as for the bridegroom (or bride, for she too is not exempt on occasion), how does he (or she) benefit by being goggled at from buses, cars and, on occasion, from passing MRTS trains? The off-key orchestra has been replaced by live singers who follow the procession in a self-contained open truck which adds to the medley, but is certainly more faithful to pitch and tune as compared to the singers themselves.

MMM, who thought he had seen them all, had evidently not run the entire gamut. Recently, MMM’s car was stopped by one such wedding procession and, as he had no other choice, his route being the same, MMM had to follow the snaking queue till the marriage venue. There he saw a group of men standing on eight foot stilts and doing a most complicated dance in order to welcome the bridegroom. It was almost like Cleopatra’s triumphal entry into Rome. What next? Midgets doing tricks?

Such events speak volumes about the lack of sensitivity we have towards the problems faced by others when we celebrate. MMM wonders whether these wedding parties obtain police permission of any sort before they take over the road for their own celebration. Certainly, the police has no business giving permission for such events. And if permission is not sought, why does the police stand by and watch?



In this issue

Bumpy road ahead...
Do Chennai's art deco...
Justice party owed...
Madras Week
Historic residences...
Other stories in this issue...

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