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(ARCHIVE) VOL. XXII NO. 23, March 16-31, 2013
Short 'N' Snappy

A Season of Birthdays

The Man from Madras Musings notes that everyone is celebrating. From the highest in the land downward. February-March is the time when powers-that-be and powers-that-have-been both celebrate birthdays and the faithful make sure that these are gala events. Mass weddings are the norm with the age of the celebrities being celebrated dictating the number of couples being wedded. More often than not, the celebrated did not come to the events, but the celebrants made sure that the celebrations went on without the absence being felt.

MMM attended them all. Not that he was invited. But all the events took place at a venue close, rather much too close, to MMM. No matter that our State politics is such that only one party attends the Assembly at any given point of time, they celebrated their birthday parties at the same venue, though not on the same date. The venue in question is a vast open-air location, which was historically meant for young men to develop their physique, oratory and clean healthy habits. But now it is used for events where young men flaunt their physique by way of security to leaders, the latter flaunting their oratorical skills. As for clean healthy habits, let us say that those are good in theory and something everyone must aim to have but not really strive towards.

The mass weddings have been exceedingly popular judging by the huge number of our populace that descended at the venue. Crackers were burst, drums were beaten, dancers danced, cheerleaders cheered, sloganeers shouted and, above all, the speakers spoke. MMM's ears are still recovering. Those who laughed all the way to the bank were those who hired out the venue, put up the stage and other accompaniments and supplied what had to be supplied. Strangely enough, MMM noticed, the suppliers of the accoutrements for the event were common to celebrants of all hues. And after the event, those who had to clean up were also common, as were those who lived in the neighbourhood and suffered while the event was in progress. Truly we are a united nation.

There was another aspect in which everyone was united – the absence of power cuts. Whosever birthday it was, the powers-that-be ensured power was supplied without interruption, at least as long as the events went on.

But leaving that aside, MMM would like to point out that Madras Musings is shortly to have a birthday. And so why should the Chief not loosen the purse strings and hire this venue? MMM is certain that mass weddings can also be organised. As for crackers and the rest, they can be hired for just about any event and so why not this one? The only element that cannot be taken for granted is uninterrupted power supply. MM is not all that powerful, you know.


How is it at your place? At The Man from Madras Musings' water is still available on tap. And judging by the way it is, it appears that MMM, his good lady and the rest of the brood will be able to tide over the next few months. But not so the residents of a particular locality which, though upmarket, has the (mis)fortune of being along a road to power. By that MMM means it is a thoroughfare that falls in the route of the Assembly/Secretariat, no matter where that is, and the same route is used by the Numero Uno, no matter who that is.

Consequently MMM learns, no digging of any kind is allowed on that particular road, except for the continual digging that happens at the periphery to erect cutouts and banners. No road work, no inspection of drains and no cable laying of any kind is permitted, year after year, for several years now. None of this really mattered to anyone – drains still functioned after a fashion, the road was as good as any, and as for cables, overhead lines did the trick. But when water stopped, everyone was up in arms. Representations were made and arms twisted but getting permission for a proper dig was impossible. They may as well have been asking for digging up the Fort.

Eventually, after considerable cajoling and what have you, someone relented somewhere. Digging can happen, pronounced a panjandrum, but between 2.00 and 4.00 a.m. only. Within those two hours, the road had to be broken, the errant pipe detected, corrected and closed. This was easier said than done. On the appointed night, or in the wee hours of that morning, the residents were to be found in large numbers, but of the diggers there were none. The supervisor pleaded helplessness. Eventually, two of them appeared. They wove an unsteady route to the spot where the dig was to commence and gave a cursory scratch or two. Someone in the crowd was unwise enough to remark that this way the work would never get done. That was that. The stars took umbrage and downed tools. By the time they were cajoled into working again, the deadline had passed.

Permission was once again applied for and the work continued in slow stages, with the vestiges of the dig being carefully obliterated each morning so that royal progress could remain triumphant and unimpeded. The line was finally detected. It was lowered in depth and closed. Next morning, residents of a neighbouring colony rejoiced. Water had come to them after years. No more dealing with tankers they declared. But, this was not the set of residents who had petitioned for the repair in the first place. They remained as dry as a State with prohibition. On petitioning for water once again, they were told that their water pipe could not be detected. And no, there are no drawings or markings for identification. What did they think this place was? New York?

Dogged pursuit, however, paid off. The earth was opened yet again. This time the police did not help in cordoning off the area. Society ladies manned the road and diverted traffic at 3.00 am while the errant pipe was detected and corrected. All was well that ended well. But MMM cannot help reflecting that it is no wonder that everyone in Chennai looks increasingly haggard these days.


The announcement of power-cuts has as usual tickled the funny bone of The Man from Madras Musings. Where else will you find Top Under Nagar? This is the latest metamorphosis of Todhunter Nagar, which you will recollect has already been Tadandar Nagar for quite a while. And what about Hoddows Road? Or Gazette Begum Street (was she notified?) for that matter? But Ribbon Buildings (perhaps because it is always tied up in red tape) must take the cake.


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In this Issue

Dear Mr. Finance Minister
Desalination plants
Govt. funding helps heritage thrive
The Memorials of Schwartz
KVK and his public causes
The Stanley Hospital Story by Shobha Menon
From Gandhi & Rajaji to Em & Big Hoom
Past Times
A management guru remembered

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for Your Diary
Madras Eye


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