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VOL. XXII NO. 2, MAY 1-15, 2012
Short 'N' Snappy

MMM by any other name

Sundays are lean days for temples, especially in the mornings. There is hardly anyone at them and it is usually on a Sunday morning that you will find The Man from Madras Musings at one or the other of the many historic shrines that Madras that is Chennai is blessed with. And so it was last Sunday. MMM prayed, begged forgiveness for many sins of omission and commission, and thanked That Which Must Be Obeyed for whatever blessings had come his way.

And then it was that MMM realised that what he had actually been suspecting to be a rash of prickly heat on the back was actually MMM's sensitive skin reacting to someone's penetrating gaze. MMM turned back to see a man "with an eye like Mars to threaten and command", looking sharply at MMM. If MMM had had a guilty secret, this eye would have detected it at once or perhaps knew all about it already.

Having peered short-sightedly back at the gazer, MMM walked away only to find that the prickly heat sensation was increasing. Sure enough, the gazer was following. And when MMM stopped, so did he, always maintaining a respectable distance. Man and shadow had reached a fairly secluded corner of the temple where there was hardly anyone. MMM could picture the headlines: "Society scribe done in by stalker" or "Murder comes to MMM" or words to that effect.

It was with a sinking feeling that MMM came to suspect that the man knew MMM's identity. True, the Chief had assured MMM that his true face would always remain a mystery but perhaps information had leaked? Was the man upset about the wretched story that MMM had written a few months ago on nighties which earned him everyone's ire? Was he from the University, deeply resentful of MMM's comments on the photography exhibition? Or was he...

But having come close, the man's mien changed. He smiled ingratiatingly, though his eye seemed as powerful as ever. MMM took a deep breath. Perhaps this was a fan? Perhaps he would say how much he enjoyed all that MMM wrote?

"Sir, can I ask you a question?" he said.

"By all means," said MMM, now beaming at the man.

"What cologne do you use? It is very good and I have been following you wanting to know the brand."

It was an anticlimax. But then MMM has survived to write this column.

Powerful's power

The Man from Madras Musings, in all his innocence, had assumed that power cuts afflicted kings and commoners alike. But apparently that is not so. MMM got to know of this while walking along with a few others when the conversation turned towards the timings of the two-hour power cuts in the respective areas which those who were walking came from. And then it transpired that one of those walking was not contributing to the conversation at all. But there came a point when everyone else had given details of his area's power cut timings and this gentleman had to speak up. He turned a bright shade of pink and confessed that he never had any power cuts.

The reaction was varied. Some were plain jealous, while others who were of a more charitable bent of mind wondered if the 'powerful' gent could have his mains hitched to those of a nearby hospital. But that was not the case. Someone in power was living in the neighbourhood and so the area was spared of power cuts. As simple as that!

RIP – English

"Memorial to Benny Quick," read the headline in a leading newspaper of the city, when it chose to announce the laying of the foundation stone for the structure. Now who is Benny Quick, you may wonder. It is none other than Pennycuick, the man about whom the Chief and several others have been writing, the father of the Mullaiperiyar dam. And considering that it was just about a couple of months ago that the Government decided on a memorial, MMM must say it has all been mighty quick.

But what a radio station did was even better. Those of you who read this column will know that MMM, when he does not have to finish a story for the Chief, sometimes tunes in to the radio. And so he did the same day as the Benny Quick story came out. "It is Shakespeare's birthday today," screamed an announcer. There was no way that MMM could verify this, but he did wait to hear what followed. "On this day, we present you a Tamil film song that has English," she said. MMM waited with bated breath. What could this be? It turned out to be Why this Kolaveri di!

Where British jogged

The Man from Madras Musings is being consistently advised by the Chief that he ought not to be condescending towards those who have no knowledge of history or heritage. "Fight this tendency, MMM," he has warned several times. And it is entirely thanks to this that MMM has taken to spending time with young journalists once again, even going to the extent of tolerating their calling him 'Uncle'.

But they do help in keeping MMM ever smiling. Last week, when one bright specimen called to know if MMM knew anything about the jogging track of the British, MMM was flummoxed. Mystery turned to admiration. Here was this young man who had found something that even the Chief would know nothing about. Did we not need more of his ilk? May his tribe increase, thought MMM. Further enquiries, however, revealed that he was referring to the War Memorial on Island Grounds. Its circular shape, he said, gave him that clue. It reminded MMM of another of the same breed who said that he was pretty sure that the Madras GPO was the residence of the Mughals in this city. It's a pity the Taj Mahal was not built here.




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In this issue

Government offers hope again for Heritage Act
The least pedestrian-friendly Indian city: Chennai
When will we get all this power?
An exchange of letters
Perambur Railway Hospital - A remarkable journey to excellence
An Old Boy's advice
METERPODU – A work in progress
The economist as a Shakespearean scholar
A Chola temple near Tambaram

Our Regulars

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


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