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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 8, august 1-15, 2009
Short 'N' Snappy

Getting traffic lights to work

More often than not, The Man from Madras Musings has been asked by the Chief as to what he was doing for the city apart from simply writing about it. On such occasions, MMM has usually shuffled his toes, twiddled his thumbs, rolled his eyes skyward and then mumbled something about how the pen is mightier, etc. But, this time, it is with great pride that MMM would like to place on record his having done his mite for this metropolis, our home.

MMM has had occasions to write in the past about the RK Mutt Road-Venkata­krishna Iyer Road junction which must rank among the world’s most chaotic locations. The problem lies with one stretch of RK Mutt Road becoming a one-way at this point and vehicles on arriving there having no clue as to what to do next. Then, in the manner of lawyers who, when faced with a case weak on facts and in law, begin thumping tables to get home their point, drivers begin honking and bulldozing their way through. In the midst of all this stands a policeman who, judging from his immobility, could be a statue put up by his admirers. To cap it all, the traffic light on one side which, as luck would have it, is the one where MMM has to execute a turn, has not worked for more than two years. For that matter, the other lights too do not function quite often, but even when they do, this particular one does not.

The other day, MMM had had enough and, so, after making the turn, he dutifully parked his car, went up to the policeman who was still giving the impression of being a specimen for taxidermy and asked him why this particular light alone did not work. The officer immediately launched into a long story of cable problems, tenders, road works, etc., at the end of which MMM came away with the impression that short of the Pentagon and ISRO just about everyone else was involved in a conspiracy in keeping this particular light on the blink. As he left, the officer informed MMM that he need not worry about the light in front; MMM only needed to look at the traffic light on his left which would anyway show him when to turn.

The next day, MMM was at the same signal and, try as he might, he could not see the traffic light on his left as it was partially blocked by a political banner and the other part that ought to have been visible was covered by a bus that had gone beyond the pedestrian crossing and stopped. Suddenly, the bus roared into action and took off and MMM, assuming that the light had changed to green, followed suit only to have the policeman spring to life, swoop down on MMM and inform him that he, the policeman, was booking MMM for jumping the lights. But he indicated that he, the policeman, was willing to settle for a compromise.

No, said MMM, and he wished that the Chief was around to witness MMM as he rose to his full height and looked like an allegorical representation of Honesty. There would be no compromise, said MMM, and he could be booked for all he cared and he would come around to answer the summons when he received it and pay a fine, but he would also bring a photograph of the banner and the traffic light which last worked in 2006 or so (talk about heritage!). This did not go well with the policeman who, muttering imprecations under his breath, fished out a grubby notebook. MMM then drove off.

The next morning, all (yes, ALL) traffic lights at the junction were working and the policeman was back to his mummified self. MMM wondered as to what happened to all the cable problems, tenders, road works etc. which would have had to be gone through to get the light working. It all amounted to sheer lethargy and cussedness. MMM had made the light work and so everyone lived happily ever after.

But not for eternity, as within days the lights were once more on the blink. But not all – and MMM is glad to report that his light (the one in front and not the ones on the left or right) takes turns in being out of order, so is not permanently disabled. The pain is, thus, evenly distributed. Now, if that is not a happy ending in our city, what is?


Covet thy neighbour’s ...

The good book, The Man from Madras Musings remembers, speaks of loving your neighbour but, as he goes for his morning walks, MMM notices several of the senior citizenry acting in complete violation of this tenet. Several elderly gentlemen, their heads covered in towels which MMM always thought was a protection from dew but now realises is a simple ruse to escape detection, prowl about armed with long sticks. These are not so much for self-defence as for using their cleft ends to bend branches and boughs of trees, mostly in neighbours’ gardens.

Age does not steal these gents of their agility and arthritis appears to have no impact on their mobility as they leap from wall to wall and jump into gardens in their quest for flowers. These men also appear to be unafraid of dogs that are kept as pets in these houses or, perhaps, a long tenure in the neighbourhood has made these animals (the pets) realise that nothing more valuable than a few flowers are being stolen and, so, why waste energy in barking?

But what MMM is curious to know is which of our holy books insists that flowers be offered for worship, even if you have to steal them. And is it really worth all this effort?


Senate House again

Each time Madras Week comes around, The Man from Madras Musings has his thoughts turning towards Senate House, which rightfully speaking ought to be a kind of symbol of heritage consciousness in the city. But, for the past three years now, the edifice has remained under lock and key.

MMM hears that bats have taken up positions once again inside the building and heaven knows what is happening to the artistically executed canvas sheets that provide an artificial ceiling for the great hall. MMM also learns that the Senate House is once again being used for storing answer sheets because, so the University claims, it has no other place to keep them.

Was it really necessary to have undertaken the expensive renovation if Madras University only wanted to use the place as a storehouse for answer sheets? Also, arising out of this, is the University not answerable to the various corporate houses and individuals whose money it took to restore the building? Ought they not ask the University as to what it is doing with the building? Or, is the present economic recession keeping everyone’s attention away from such issues?

Whatever be the reason, it is indeed a pity that such a handsome edifice is not available for the public at large to enjoy events in. It is to be hoped that in the new academic era ahead, greater sense will prevail.


In this issue

A host of events...
MRTS stations...
The Ashe murder...
The white peacock...
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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