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VOL. XXII NO. 3, MAY 16-31, 2012
Short 'N' Snappy

The crisis of domestics

The Man from Madras Musings was looking forward to going home and eating a well-cooked meal, made by a man from up north. It is quite amazing as to how nowadays most of the domestics are from up north. Wonder what happened to the ayahs and the rest from down south. Apparently, what with all the freebies that include television sets, very few feel like working for a living. In short, our State is a land of lotus-eaters who feed on milk and honey. And as for the younger lot, they much prefer working in software companies. Not that MMM is complaining. If they are capable, let them progress. Upward mobility is what counts.

But what MMM cannot tolerate is the variety that has no talent for the desk job and brings loads of expectations and frustrations to what they feel are lesser, or menial, tasks. This variety is hoping to get the salary and perquisites of a white collar job while not bringing even a degree of perfection to the task at hand. And that brings MMM back to the story that he began with.

Even as MMM opened his front door he could guess that something was amiss. The good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, made it amply clear in word and gesture that the cook had been offended. And it was all MMM's fault. Apparently the previous evening MMM had referred to the cook as a cook within earshot and this had upset the man. He considered the appellation of cook to be a pejorative and did not like to be referred to as one. It all reminded MMM of an old Hindi verse that lamented in the 12th Century that the farmer is not satisfied with farming nor is the beggar with begging. Things haven't changed in all the intervening centuries.

It was not as though MMM had used the vernacular equivalent. It had been in the Queen's English. MMM could not help thinking of the days when MMM's grandparents could get away with referring to each one in their army of servants by even their caste names. MMM was never comfortable with that. But he had never anticipated anyone being upset with his/her professional appellation. The man clearly aspired for better things.

Having perpetrated a crisis, albeit unknowingly, MMM had to make amends. He was reminded of an uncle's advice. "If in a hospital and needing good attention, refer to the nurse as doctor," he said. MMM has now, therefore, drawn up a list of alternative titles for each of the domestics in his ostensible employ (in reality they all swear allegiance by She). The cook will henceforth be Nutritionist. The maid-of-all-work will go back to the Victorian era and will be an Abigail. The driver will be Pilot.

Games drivers play

Talking of drivers, a couple of friends poured forth their woes to The Man from Madras Musings. And ironically both incidents had to do with the convoys of political bigwigs.

The first story involved a driver ferrying two of his master's young children. The car in which they were travelling came into collision with one of the outlying cars in a political bigwig's convoy. Security men promptly surrounded the vehicle but the driver, showing remarkable agility, managed to jump out, leap into a passing autorickshaw and vanish to no one knows where. The younger child burst into tears but the older one had the presence of mind to summon his father with a phone call. MMM's friend paid for the damages and all ended well, though what happened to the driver is a bit of a mystery. MMM fully expects to see him at a Formula 1 race pretty soon.

The second story involves a smart alec of a driver who after dropping his master at the airport was in a hurry to return home. On the way he found a convoy of cars escorting one of our VVVVVVVVIPs and decided to tag along. This was soon detected and he was apprehended and hauled up before the awful majesty of the law. When questioned he replied that his master lived but two doors away from the politician, and so he thought he could take advantage of the fact that all traffic signals were being ignored by the convoy. A tight slap stopped him in mid-sentence. He had in his nervousness forgotten to include all the honorifics and titles of the VVVVVVVVIP while referring to the person by name. That, in the view of the investigating officer, was a worse crime.

Traffic rules

Waiting for a signal to change to green gave The Man from Madras Musings ample time to reflect on the various kinds of vehicle users. The first category never waits at a traffic signal. This is usually the Government vehicle, often a police car. It can also be escorting a law-maker or a bureaucrat. Sometimes it can just be the driver of any one of the above. What is common to them all is their inability to wait. Urgency is their creed, such being the speed with which they push paper to and fro.

The second variety pauses momentarily, looks to see if there are any vehicles coming from the opposite direction and, if there are none, zooms off no matter what be the traffic signal. These are usually the S(pace) U(surping) V(ehicle)s, tourist taxis, buses and such like. The last named, if belonging to a corporate house, often sports a sanctimonious message to the effect that speed governors have been installed and if the driver is caught over-speeding, complaints can be made at a certain number which is never possible to read especially when the vehicle is over-speeding.

The third variety will wait for most of the duration when the lights are red. Just a few seconds before the green signal they tend to rush off, thereby causing the most havoc as they narrowly miss colliding with vehicles in the opposite direction.

Lastly, you have the lot that waits patiently no matter if there is no other vehicle in sight. They get roundly abused by everyone else, most often by those in vehicles behind. Sometimes the policemen also join in, berating these people for holding up traffic! Such is life.




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In this issue

Heritage legislation at last
What should be done to space beneath flyovers?
Endangered historic site
Tiger, Tiger, burning bright (in Madras)
Birdwatching Notes
A post-box out of the past
The historical legacy of an engineering marvel
English Theatre returns
DRAVID – He fought the good battle every time

Our Regulars

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


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