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(ARCHIVE) VOL. XXII NO. 22, March 1-15, 2013
Short 'N' Snappy

Cut-out season

'tis the season of giant cut-outs for 'tis the season of various important people in the political firmament celebrating birthdays. And then there are stars releasing troublesome films as well. And all this calls for cut-outs and digital hoardings. The Man from Madras Musings notices that our city is full of nothing else but these.

What with having to navigate and negotiate these, MMM has had ample time to study them. He realises that the fixing of cut-outs, banners and digital hoardings follows a few simple rules. And these are listed below:

  • Every cut-out remains in the place it was put up till it is removed as and when those who put it up think it necessary.
  • The direction in which a cut-out is fixed is parallel to the footpath (if it exists), in the direction of the traffic and must block a traffic light or two.
  • For every political party's cut-out there is an equal (if possible bigger) one from the opposition.

These may be considered to be the MMMian laws of promotion, directly inspired by the Newtonian Laws of Motion.

As these are strictly against the law and as there is another law that stipulates that if cut-outs are put up, they need to be removed within three days, we must realise that these are after all temporary structures. And so they need to create the maximum impact in the shortest possible time. How can this be done?

Firstly, by ensuring that they are put up at the busiest possible place. The putting up process is a ceremony by itself. The hoarding/banner/cut-out is laid flat on the road, occupying space meant for vehicles. In the meantime, a group of toughs loiters about to ensure that those in charge of the law do not interfere. A gang of workmen then gets busy with crowbars and pick-axes. This is to dig and dislodge pavement stones from the footpath (if it exists) so that casuarina poles can be firmly fixed. The removed stones are not thrown away for they come into use for steadying the poles that cannot be fixed on the sidewalk (if it…) but on the road which unfortunately cannot be dug. Then comes the task of nailing the hoarding/banner/cut-out in place. When this is done, the toughs and the workmen depart, leaving the debris behind – loose paving, nails and yards of rope. These are their gifts for the meek who, having inherited the earth, have to walk about on it, tripping over the loose stones, getting pricked by the nails and being entangled in the rope.

Second, there is the shape of the cut-out. The spherical one is the most preferred for it occupies the maximum surface area and so cuts off visibility in all four directions. You cannot bend low and walk under it either. The rectangular ones are better for they permit walking underneath rather like the Colossus of Rhodes allowed ships to pass below. But these suffer from a major weakness in the eyes of physics. Their height being far greater than their width, they have a very high centre of gravity. This causes the Olympian leaders to gradually bend down and try and mingle with the common folk on the road. They also sway to the breeze. All this stooping to conquer gives motorists the jitters for you never know on whom the grace of the leader will fall. All in all, these are adventurous times for those on the roads.

The Man from Madras Musings notes that the children are celebrating birthdays too, though the mater familias has expressed disapproval of events of this kind. It is only that the attempts at using Queen's English to sing of someone, whose vocabulary is said to be of the best, is rather amusing. And so, what do you mean by referring to someone as 'Patritian'?

Lincoln is the spirit of the times we all know. And so some have also referred to Imperatrix as the second Lincoln. The largest of the hoardings have been put up on a route that the erstwhile pater familias of the State shuttles on. This is presumably to ensure that he does not miss this assessment of leadership.

More on the emus

The Man from Madras Musings has been badgered with phone calls, sms, emails and messages on Facebook asking about the whereabouts and well-being of the emus that he wrote about last fortnight. MMM is happy to report that they are doing well. Last week MMM was out walking when he saw the duo. They have taken to running along with the traffic and MMM noted them merrily keeping pace with scooters and cyclists, the latter being a great favourite. Two or three were sent crashing into ditches by these enterprising birds. No question of any ennui with these emi (or is it emus?) on the roads. MMM regretted that he was without a camcorder, rather like those big game hunters who regretted not having brought along their guns the moment they saw the emu. Or was it the gnu? MMM is always confused about this. And who knows? Perhaps the gnu will make its appearance on our roads too.

Not everyone is particularly happy with the appearance of the emu. The local TASMAC has seen a marked dip in business. The birds apparently have taken to jumping out of dark corners the moment they see anyone moving around with unsteady gait. The sudden shock of seeing some tall and ungainly creature leaping at them has made many a toper swear off his drink. The political party whose scion made it his business to put up statutory warnings on alcoholic refreshments may as well adopt the emu as its party symbol. Its fortunes may soar, but then the emu is a flightless bird and so it may not augur well.

The silent P

The tailpiece is very often a photograph these days. The Man from Madras Musings is of the view that this will more or less be a permanent feature what with those responsible for road signs giving plenty of grist to MMM's mill. The latest is down Sripuram way, a quiet colony in the Royapettah area. MMM noticed that the signboard does not have a particular letter. But perhaps because this is the favourite corner for those with full bladders, the painter decided to leave out the obvious?


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In this Issue

The sad, sad state of Chepauk Palace
Will Metro moves threaten Ripon Building, VP Hall?
On the Bookshelves – Of war and wickets
CUMTA should have a wider role
He took up a host of public causes
The illustrious scientist who teamed with C.V. Raman
From R'puram Medical School to Stanley Medical College

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Madras Eye


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