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(ARCHIVE) VOL. XXII NO. 21, February 16-28, 2013
Short 'N' Snappy

The birds of Oz...
... now the emus of Madras

The Man from Madras Musings couldn't believe his eyes. The whole thing reminded him of the nursery rhyme, which if you recollect went this way:

When Mary had a little lamb
The Doctor was surprised
But when Old MacDonald had a farm
He couldn't believe his eyes!

MMM was more or less in the position of the doctor, for, walking in front of him, on a busy thoroughfare of this other Eden, viz, our Madras that is Chennai, was a pair of emus (Or are they Emi? But since that reminds MMM of Equal Monthly Instalments and his borrowings, MMM will refer to them as emus). What these flightless birds from what we so incorrectly call Down Under were doing here and how they came a-calling in the city (they could have hardly flown, and walking all the way is out of question) were mysteries that MMM was not equal to solving. Had the Chief – who is forever buzzing off to Oz, coming back and writing books, giving talks and being the Wizard for all practical purposes – brought in a couple of eggs, watched them hatch and then turned them out on to the streets? When confronted, he denied it all hotly and asked rather testily whether he had the time to sit on eggs till they hatched.

Further enquiries revealed that rearing emus is now the in-thing in this land of ours. Everyone, from aged grandmother to budding software engineer with some surplus cash, is investing in emu, some on emi basis. Everyone short of the Chief and MMM that is. Though why the Chief is not into it beats MMM, 'coz he is that taken up with anything Ozzie. But to get back to the matter of the emu. Apparently, emu (not to be confused with the ostrich) grows fat (rather like Indian software engineers) and lays eggs (also like Indian software engineers if you consider the number of dud softwares doing the rounds) for most of their lives. Every part of the emu is marketable, so the cognoscenti inform MMM, everything from toe to feather (unlike software engineers who may have toes but not marketable ones and definitely not feathers anyway, though several do feather their nests rather well). There is another school of thought that claims that emu marketing is a scam of the first water and all that you are left with are unpaid emi.

Perhaps the owner of the two emus that MMM saw walking along was one of the latter school and had abandoned them to the roads of Chennai. What harm can a couple of extra vagrants do, could be his view. Or perhaps he was out to get them fat on the cheap and so trained them to forage in garbage dumps, which is precisely what the two emus were doing. Shortly thereafter they also began tearing wall posters with their beaks and then chewing them up (the posters and not the beaks). The birds were evidently going local. Given their height, they could easily reach the taller posters, the ones reserved for the pater, mater, frater, soror and the rest of our rival ruling clans. Other animals looked on with envy.

MMM decided to be cautious and so photographed the avian pair from a distance. He had read somewhere that the emu could be lethal with its legs. It was only much later that he realised that it was the ostrich that was known for the kick of death.

Animal Farm

Once inspired, The Man from Madras Musings is unstoppable and the emus have encouraged him no end. Do any of you readers, rather like Old MacDonald, realise that we now have an addition to our animal family? So far in Chennai we have seen cows, pigs, dogs, goats, horses and the occasional elephant. Now we have the emu. The bird will no doubt add its droppings to what is already a rich mixture of multifarious dungs, including that of the human variety. And now motorists, who belong to the highest and most evolved category among animals that survive on roads, can begin working on how to incorporate the emu into the food chain. As to who will ultimately consume whom is a matter of conjecture. Will the emu teach the other animals a thing or two when it comes to traffic management? Only time will tell.

Talking about accidents involving animals, MMM is informed that while the dog is perhaps the most dangerous, for it has a tendency to dart forward suddenly and get caught between the wheels, the pig spells economic disaster. Apparently, any vehicle dashed against by a pig is practically unsaleable according to Chennai tradition. The thing may as well be gifted to the pig for future use. MMM asked as to what would happen if the seller just kept silent about the attraction his vehicle had for pigs. That would never do. It was the mandated duty of the seller to inform the buyer that his vehicle was once in a relationship with a pig. In Chennai, the truth is still spoken on occasion.

MMM's favourite animal story is not from Chennai but from Kolkata where he once lived. And MMM can assure you it is a true story and it was in all the papers when MMM was a (cherubic) child. The camel from a touring circus ran off one night and the trainer got on to an elephant to give it chase. This continued for quite some distance till the camel, tiring of it all, came to a halt beside a temple. The elephant soon caught up but was so excited at seeing the camel that it trumpeted. That stirred the camel like an egg whisk and off it went once more, with the elephant and rider in hot pursuit. Traffic came to a halt and most schools declared a holiday. The dromedary was eventually cornered by the tusker and brought home, but the police were not amused. Chennai is relatively a tame place but MMM is quite hopeful that the emu will stir matters up.

Cattle class

That if you recollect was a term that once got a Minister, contemplating fresh matrimony, into considerable acrimony But what The Man from Madras Musings wishes to highlight is that cattle are back on Chennai roads in quite large numbers. A very early Worship who is now being groomed for taking over as hereditary head of his establishment, rather as in a monastery, was dead against them. But his successors have taken a worshipful attitude as far as these animals are concerned, leaving them undisturbed. The emu has company.


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In this Issue

A crawl to list heritage sites
Now, a glass-fronted building in the heart of heritage!
Tamil films – alive and kicking
First Indian doctor with foreign degree
From kanji thotti hospital to one of excellence
Oh, for those gardens!
'Pop' goes the soap bubbles

Our Regulars

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


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