The Sangita Sarvartha Sara Sangrahamu, almost the first printed work in Carnatic Music completes 150 this year.
The Sangita Sarvartha Sara Sangrahamu, almost the first printed work in Carnatic Music completes 150 this year.
Was invited for lunch and went and asnwered several questions – rambled on I guess- see it here http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=pitstop4performers&view=videos&start=20
Short and Snappy dated 15th May 2009
Security – Hotel Style
Ever since the attacks in Mumbai a few months ago, security has been, as the expression is “beefed up” (why not porked up? Perhaps chickened up would not be very appropriate) in most five star hotels of Madras that is Chennai. The most visible aspect is that these homes to hospitality are now behind forbidding gates which swing open rather menacingly when you approach. The Man from Madras Musings has been to a few and taking his role rather seriously (the Chief has complained that MMM is prone to levity) documents what he has experienced.
The moment you enter the hotel compound, the first person who greets you is a man with a floor-level mirror mounted on wheels. He pushes this under your car (presumably this procedure is exempt for Scotsmen in kilts and South Indians in dhoties who come in on roller skates) to examine the possibility of a car bomb in the undercarriage. The other day MMM drove in only to find the man with the mirror standing with his head bowed and deeply gazing at his own reflection rather like Narcissus at the pond which is where all his troubles began if you recollect. MMM waited patiently for a while but the man continued admiring himself and MMM can assure you that what there was did not merit a second look; not that MMM is a thing of beauty himself. And then MMM ran out of patience and tooted the horn whereupon the man, coming to himself with a start, lost his grip on the the mirror which being on a slope promptly went by itself under MMM’s car and would have gone on indefinitely had it not been for the handle which hit MMM’s car bumper and stopped. The mirror was then recovered and MMM was given the go ahead.
The next man whom you encounter is the person who commands you to open the boot of your car. In most cases MMM notices, this search is most perfunctory and does not involve anything more than a glance at what is inside. How can anyone identify the presence of explosives or arms by a mere look and that too from a distance is beyond MMM’s feeble intellect. Are these men clairvoyant?
Then you have the metal detector. Here you have a man standing beside it, who depending on his mood and on the side of the bed from which he got up, could either wave you through with a smile or in a surly fashion ask you to surrender everything you possess and then walk through. MMM is waiting for the day when clothes will have to be taken off while entering hotels. But what puzzles MMM is that in some of these places, many people keep walking in and out through side entrances with nary a check. And that reminds MMM of another incident.
We live in changing times but these occur with such rapidity that MMM is often left wondering as to what happened. The other day, MMM and his good lady had gone to a five star hotel to attend a book release and it was only on reaching within a few metres of the hotel that MMM realised that a flyover had been planned there. A barricade put up by the police was the only sign to indicate that MMM could not proceed onwards. Anyone would think that the hotel would put up a signboard giving details of alternate routes to take to access the building. Not having any choice, MMM took a diversion which brought him to the exit of the hotel. There a kindly security guard waved him on further down the road which brought MMM to the staff entrance of the hotel. Not finding anybody there, MMM hesitated. But the good lady, who in another era could have taken a shot at being Lady Macbeth egged MMM on and so he drove in. Sure enough MMM found himself in the basement car park. Having found an empty slot, MMM, at the insistence of Lady M parked his vehicle and with Lady M in tow took the lift and reached the venue. All through the programme MMM did not have any peace of mind. What if the hotel security found a car for which they had no parking tag? What if the police was called in? What if the car is towed away? Or even worse what if the hotel is evacuated and then the car searched and finally MMM is hauled up before the awful majesty of the law? What would the Chief say when he saw the headlines screaming “MMM in the thick of bomb hoax”? Here MMM stole a sideways glance at his good lady who appeared to not have a care or scare and was the life and soul of the party.
At the end it, MMM and lady left. On reaching the foyer, MMM’s lady suggested that we ask the hotel valet to get our car. MMM shook like a leaf. He had it all worked out. He had thought of taking a service lift, and then having reached the parking lot, stealing out hoping that nobody would notice. But the lady would have nothing of it. Under her stern eye MMM went up to the least intimidating valet and began explaining. The man did not even bat an eyelid. With a dazzling smile he took the key, went to the basement, got the car out and soon MMM and lady were on their way home. No parking tag, no security check, no looking at the undercarriage with mirrors. And MMM’s lady had an “I told you so” look on her face. So much for foolproof security.
No traffic rules please- we are campaigning
The Gowdia Mutt Road leading to the Royapettah Police Station is one way and that is a big joke for almost everyone violates this rule, under the very nose of the police station. Even police cars happily careen down the wrong way. But election campaigning bends most rules more than they ought to. Last week witnessed a posse of policemen standing on this road busily blocking off the traffic that was travelling in the correct direction. MMM was among the many stopped from proceeding further. All this was to allow a convoy of cars belonging to a political party carrying the local hopeful and his cohorts, all of them travelling down the wrong way! Traffic was halted for a long duration during which crackers were burst, the candidate waved, swooped and genuflected even as his companions kept a watchful eye rather like Mars- threatening and commanding on those waiting patiently by. One motorist made bold to protest and was given a few friendly pats by the companions and was also warned off by the police, no doubt for creating an ulawful disturbance. Imagine protesting during a peaceful election campaign. It is just not on and moreover it is foul, offside and unsporting. At least that is what the policeman no doubt thought of it.
The Man from Madras Musings is prone to idly watching cars go by and now that it is election time, he sees a good many whiz by so much puffed up with self-importance that it is a wonder that they do not burst out with it. “Election –Immediate” says one variety and this usually has the ‘G’ mark on it indicating that it had better not be trifled with. Next comes the variety that usually has a party flag fluttering from its bonnet and this too does not follow traffic rules but is distinguished by a set of faces grinning and hands showing off signs of victory, muscle strength etc. It must be admitted that grinning does not come too easily to this group. They would be better off snarling, grimacing or look menacing. The third variety has “Press” on it and from the way they drive around MMM infers that they are hard-pressed for time which possibly explains the legend. MMM thought he had seen it all till last week he saw one that simply said “Urgent”. MMM had a pleasant afternoon imagining what could have been the nature of the urgent call.
May 2nd marks the 75th death anniversary of this magnificent singer who sadly never recorded his voice. My tribute in The Hindu:
Lay of the Madras Minstrel
Those of you who look on Madras Musings with a fatherly eye (and a catty wag once told the Man from Madras Musings that grandfatherly would be more appropriate as we in MM talk of matters long gone and of a way of life long past. But let us leave that aside, for as we say in this our city – we are like that only), will not be happy to know that the magazine you love has been on auto pilot in the last two weeks. The Chief is away and as for MMM, he too has been travelling far and wide. He has voluntarily banished himself from that sceptred isle – Chennai to be precise and when he receives a nasty missive from the Chief that the next issue is due and could we have the column asap (the chief is into all kinds of modern expressions) and not forget our honour bound duties while we go gadding about the globe, MMM is at a loss for words. Now that may not be so bad a thing according to MMM’s detractors of whom he has not a few, but then, MMM may be down but not out. And so, from a land far away, as MMM looks at Chennai and wonders what to write about, he delves into the recesses of his mind for topics that have not been covered in the issues of the recent past – bad English (no, that was done), traffic (that can wait, it can be used as a filler anytime imagination really runs dry)… Panic sets in and the traffic situation has almost been taken up, when inspiration strikes. And so…
The Speed Breakers of Chennai
As the country goes in for elections, the greatest exercise in the whole world, democracy is in the air. While editors write columns and columns on it (no, not you Chief, something on the Heritage Act would be more your line), talk shows talk on it and politicians prattle on, not one person has really thought of that one symbol of complete democracy – the Speed Breaker in Chennai. In case you are thinking that the Man from Madras Musings has gone mad, let MMM assure you that he has not. For MMM has his feet on the ground, quite close to the speed breakers in fact. Have you ever reflected on how no two speed breakers in Chennai are alike? Such freedom is given to those who erect these sacred mounds over which we sacrifice our vehicles, that in MMM’s view, it is a perfect example of democracy – freedom, freedom from constraints, from rules, from regulations- in short, sheer bliss.
There are various types of speed breakers. The first is the rumble, which starts off in life as a series of risers running across the road. When you go over it, your vehicle simulates a ship of sorts for it lurches forward and then leans backward alternately before driving clear of all the rumbles. Over time, these rumbles are tarred over repeatedly, thereby almost vanishing from sight. But as you go over them, variations in height remain, the movements become less jerky and you can be pardoned for imagining that a mild earthquake is on. Don’t believe MMM? Try what remains of the rumbles opposite Agurchund Mansions on Mount Road.
The second is the Himalaya. This has one mound but has no luminescent paint. You know you have reached it only when your vehicle’s bumper has hit it or a significant part of your chassis has been scraped off by the peak over which you are negotiating. When newly laid out, this has signboards on both sides and bright bands of paint to warn you of the approaching bump. But the signboard soon makes way for a political party’s flag post and as for the paint, which brand can stand the wear of so many vehicles going over it? Doesn’t our Corporation have better things to do than paint these over repeatedly? The Himalaya is a generic type and the only standard governing it is that no height limits are stipulated. It can be as low as a few inches in height and can rise up to a foot and more. There is an interesting variant to this one. The Corporation, or the Police or whoever it is who paints signs on the roads, have at places painted the pedestrian crossings on top of the speed breaker. MMM wonders if you are expected to lean right or left of centre or remain erect while you walk over this.
The twin- This makes its appearance in twos around schools and colleges. The schools have them to prevent parents from massacring all those around when they rush to school late and try to make up for lost time by driving amuck. It exists around colleges to ensure students don’t drive rashly. Here again there is no standard as to the distance between two speed-breakers. If a school or college has three gates, not all of them have to have it. Also the speed-breakers exist only outside a few privileged institutions and not all.
The citizen’s initiative – This one exists just about anywhere. You can have one just outside your house if you want. You can have two. Three maybe in case you feel it is better. You can also liberally strew these across your entire road. There are so many side roads with these speed-breakers, all most unnecessarily positioned in close proximity.
MMM will not be surprised if we soon have designer speed-breakers. Why not a step speed breaker inspired by the great stepped pyramid of Egypt. And why not a wedge shaped one with its top ending in a sharp point? Cars can reach the top and dangle from there in a state of equilibrium till someone comes and gives the vehicle a friendly push.
Political Parties on best behaviour
Ahhh! The electoral code of conduct is in place. No posters on walls. No graffiti. No cut outs. No banners. All political meetings wind up by 10.00 pm. In short God’s in his heaven and all is right with the world. The Man from Madras Musings may be pardoned for saying that it is his earnest wish that the electoral code of conduct be always in place. No, he does not mean an election every morning, but if only this model behaviour could be adopted by all parties for all time to come, Chennai would be a better place to live in.
Fishing for trouble
As is always his habit before leaving for the great open spaces (also referred to as ‘the foreign’ or ‘the abroads’ in some circles), the Man from Madras Musings went to the Kapali temple in Mylapore. And this time he did so with hands held to his nostrils. The fish in the tank had died in their thousands and the smell was awful. Various reasons have been given for the sudden death. Firecrackers were burst from inside the tank during the float festival causing release of toxins, people have been overfeeding the fish, the plastic waste in the tank, (every devotee assumes it is a religious duty to throw the empty plastic bags into the water after feeding the fish), the heat etc, have all been given out as reasons. MMM notices only one common factor in all but the last reason. The fish can in no way be blamed. It is we, the people, who are the principal causes behind such ecological disasters. When will we wake up and realise that the Gods do not have to be pleased at the expense of the fish or our environment?
Seen in a Chennai newspaper headline: “The incident looks like a wake up call for hoteliers to buckle up” Now is that a buckle down or a buck up?
The presence of “black clay” in the area surrounding Pondicherry was
known to workmen engaged in drilling wells as early as 1828. It was however only in 1935 that this was taken up for analysis. In 1941 Binny & Co made an attempt to check for lignite deposits in nearby Neyveli but soon gave it up for want of suitable equipment. In 1947, the Government of India sent its Geologist and Mining Engineer, HK Ghosh to sink bore holes and test the availability of lignite. Within four years Ghosh estimated that 2000 million tonnes of lignite was present in the area though the task of excavating it would be daunting owing to the presence of sub-soil water. In 1951, Paul Erryich, a mining engineer was deputed by the Bureau of Mines, Government of the United States to the Government of Madras under a technical assistance programme to study the possibility of mining the lignite. Based on the findings of Ghosh and Erryich, a high-powered committee of the Government of India recommended the setting up of a pilot quarry which was inaugurated in 1953 by Dr U Krishna Rau, Minister for Industries, Labour and Co-operation, Government of Madras. The Secretary to this department was TMS Mani ICS, the man who would make the lignite project a reality. He was designated Chief Executive, Lignite Investigations and the next year Pt. Nehru visited the quarry and in 1955 the Neyveli project was taken over by the centre.
Neyveli Lignite Corporation was set up as a private limited company on 14th November 1956, by the Government of India with the mandate to undertake mining and processing of lignite, generation and distribution of power, manufacture of fertiliser, chemicals, etc. And selected to head the new venture was TMS Mani. Born in 1908 he had been named TM Subramaniam which he shortened to TMS Mani on qualifying for the Indian Civil Service (ICS). During his years in the Government he had served in various capacities in the Madras Presidency before being posted to the Finance Department in Delhi during the Second World War. Returning from there in 1946 he took over as Commissioner of Textiles in Madras before going on to become Secretary, Health and Secretary PWD. He was known to be an upright officer who brought in his characteristic intelligence and capacity for hard work into any and every assignment that he was given. Even when he was Chief Executive of the Lignite Investigations, he had worked hard in bringing together the various ministers and bureaucrats both in Centre and State levels and had put together a very accurate estimate of the financial outlay of the project.
But most of his friends felt that transforming NLC into reality was
something that was much more than he could handle. As his son was to
write later, “there were many who doubted whether the numerous
problems would ever be solved. Many advised him to get out early,
as the problems of nature, the artesian water under the lignite
seam, the political divisions between the Central and State
Governments, and petty jealousies, would doom it to failure”.
There was a shortage of foreign exchange which delayed the project.
In addition there was a widely held body of opinion that no lignite
existed in the area and that when the excavation would be completed
and the subterranean water removed, sea water from Cuddalore would
flood the mines and submerge the entire neighbourhood. And the task
was not just a question of mining. At a total outlay of
Rs 113 Crores (in 1956) it included creation of an open casting
mining division, constructing a township, setting up the power plant,
the urea plant for fertiliser and the domestic fuel lignite
briquetting plant. Work began in May 1957 after a formal
inauguration by Pt. Nehru.
TMS Mani in his capacity as Chairman rose to the occasion and as was
his habit in all his earlier assignments studied, learnt and
understood the various aspects of setting up the Corporation.
He acquired knowledge of “hydrology, open-cast mining, modern mining
machinery, town planning, personnel management and financial
management by interacting with experts in the respective fields”.
The Neyveli Township grew up, a planned layout, under his personal
supervision. His mother-in-law was to write admiringly, “they
transformed open, barren land into gardens, tanks and buildings,
as if it was child’s play.” Housing received special attention.
All housing units were to have a plot of garden space and enough
ventilation. Wanting to be a hands-on chief, TMS Mani, who had
earlier operated from Madras and managed at the Inspection Bungalow
in Neyveli during visits soon moved home to Neyveli. This meant l
eaving his enormous government bungalow, Cherwell on Greenways Road,
Madras and settling into the comparatively modest accommodation of
the Chairman’s residence or Emdis House as it was called in Neyveli,
in 1958. Having faith in the cooperative movement, TMS Mani ensured
that the township had cooperative stores, markets, milk dairies,
petrol pumps, hotels and even cinemas. The last he felt was an
absolute must for otherwise employees would keep going to
Chidambaram to watch films in the night and turn up to work
bleary-eyed the next day! His eye for detail even saw to the
creation of hair-dressing saloons. Besides these, schools,
hospitals, nursing homes and a telephone exchange came up.
At all these locations, discipline was paramount and even his wife
had to stand in queue to purchase what she wanted. Use of company
vehicles for personal use was frowned upon and he set the example
by driving to work in his personal car and then using the official
vehicle for all office related work before driving home again in
his own car.
There were enormous headaches in the project. Moving the mining
equipment proved a big challenge. The Adyar Bridge was found to be
too weak to bear the load of the equipment as they were transported
from the Port to Neyveli. The machinery was dismantled before the
bridge, carried across and then reassembled at the other end before
being loaded on to trucks for transport to Neyveli.
The special mining machinery proved to be incapable of handling the
local Cuddalore sandstone. The teeth kept breaking and had to be
replaced thereby reducing the quantum of mining. This problem was
later solved with suitable modifications to the teeth and by
introducing a systematic drilling and shatter blasting programme. The
huge reservoir of ground water below the lignite bed was another
problem as it would threaten to burst forth and flood the mines if
the pressure was not reduced prior to commencement of mining. This
was done by selectively forming bore wells and pumping out water to
reduce the pressure. The area was prone to flooding during monsoons
and this required constructing of pumping stations and suitable
storm water drains. All this required that equipment be in top
working order and TMS Mani devised a system of maintenance that
was followed religiously.
On a happy day in August 1961, the lignite seam in what is today
called Mine 1 was exposed. And what’s more, water did not rush in
from Cuddalore as the Cassandras had predicted. TMS Mani was in
raptures. His mother-in-law was to comment that he rejoiced as
though he had dug it out himself. “You do not understand,” was
the reply. “It was no surprise and no credit to me that lignite
lay underground. But in its absence, in other words, had we not
found any of it, the shame of just indulging in all this work of
excavating would have been my lot.” By May 1962 full-fledged mining
had begun with for the first time in India, the use of German
excavation technology and equipment. The same month, the first
Power Station at Neyveli, set up with Soviet collaboration was
commissioned. It was South Asia’s first and only plant to be
fuelled with lignite and was the first power plant in India to
be set up with Soviet technology. By 1962, the entire project
had seen Indians working with Germans, Russians, Englishmen and
Americans. A unique collaborative effort during the Cold War years.
TMS Mani, the superman who saw all this through, had one fatal
weakness. He suffered enormously from asthma. Even a whiff of
fragrance or a cold breeze was enough to bring it on. Being a
smoker did not help. But undeterred by it, despite several
sleepless nights of breathlessness which would leave him exhausted
even if he climbed a single stair, he laboured on and brought his
project to fruition. Assisting him in every way was his patient
wife, Rukmini. Not once did he come late for a meeting owing to
his malaise. The daily schedule never varied. It began with a tour
of every facility on the complex at 8.00 am followed by hours and
hours of office work, often ending at midnight.
TMS Mani celebrated the weddings of his daughter and son with the
greatest simplicity. The first had happened when he was Secretary
PWD and the second when he was Chairman NLC. He was of the view
that a civil servant should set an example in matters such as this.
Gifts were strictly discouraged and the list of invitees was pared
to a minimum. He did not even build a house of his own. When he
was Secretary PWD, he was of the view that this would cause comment
and after taking over at NLC, there was never any time.
By 1962 his family members felt that it was time for a break from
the NLC routine where matters had stabilised and work was going
smoothly. He decided to spend some time in Bombay with his daughter.
The humid weather of Bombay aggravated his asthma and on 13th
November he had to be rushed to Madras for treatment. On boarding
the aircraft in a strong fragrance (about which theories vary from
a broken perfume bottle to the use of a disinfectant) brought about
a severe attack of breathlessness and he passed away before any
medical help could be brought in. He was only 54. In another year
he would have retired and then written the book he had planned on
his experiences at Neyveli.
The body was brought back to a stunned Neyveli for the last rites.
His legacy to his family included nothing beyond a fully paid up
insurance fund and a 15 year old Chevrolet. An ICS officer’s
income he opined was to be utilised in maintaining a certain
standard of living and he had lived up to that maxim. He had
given his children an excellent education and that was his
lasting legacy to them. It was left to Rukmini and her three
children, the last of whom was a physically challenged son,
to pick up the pieces. Later his elder son MK Mani, would
become and continues to be one of India’s leading nephrologists.
Rukmini would also make a mark- as Honorary Secretary of the Madras
branch of the Family Planning Association of India, she was to do
yeoman service till her passing in 1980.
On the lighter side, TMS Mani achieved what many felt was an
impossibility and that was the making of peace between his two
friends TT Krishnamachari and T Sadasivam (of MS Subbulakshmi fame).
The two had fallen out on the issue of Tamil Isai and it was at
his daughter Lakshmi’s wedding when MS sang, that the great thaw
happened between TTK and TS!
His legacy of Neyveli is of course monumental. Today, the plant,
much expanded continues to be one of India’s major thermal power
sources and perhaps every time a light bulb is switched on in Tamil
Nadu, someone is paying a tribute to TMS Mani. A road in the Neyveli
complex is named after him. In many ways his achievement and manner
of death would be similar to that of RS Krishnan, the first
Executive Director of BHEL and father of the Trichy unit and
township. He too was an asthmatic and smoked a pipe and he too
would die in harness after making his project a reality.
On the occasion of TMS Mani’s birth centenary in 2008, two books
were published and released by his family members. The first,
TMS Mani, Civil Servant Nonpareil, is a compilation of tributes
written by friends, relatives and admirers. The second, Waves of
Nostalgia from a Mother’s Memory is the English translation of the
Tamil biography of his wife Rukmini written by her mother
K Saraswathi Ammal who was unfortunate to witness the passing of
her only child during her lifetime. Saraswathi Ammal, one of the
daughters of the well-known lawyer of Madras, V Krishnaswami Iyer,
wields a descriptive pen and in her hands, life in Madras of the
1930s and 40s springs to life. It has been translated into English
by KV Seshadri, IAS (retd.), TMS Mani’s son-in-law.
The two volumes make for a great tribute to an upright and
dedicated civil servant and his supportive wife.
Somehow I had forgotten to upload this
English as she is spoken
The Man from Madras Musings has a fairly roving commission as those of you who read his column regularly would have guessed by now. Like Puck, he flits hither and thither. And all the while he keeps gathering information for this column. And so it was that MMM found himself recently ensconced in a seminar on some software or the other. “’Ow does ‘e handle it?” asked the smiling and confident speaker as he, in the process of singing the virtues of his software asked a rhetorical question about a much harassed executive who does not use this product. And then he answered the question himself, as confident as ever. “He cannot able to handle it,” he said. MMM too, could not..er..able to handle it. But there was more to follow. “That is the worriest thing,” said the speaker. “And,” he concluded with a flourish, “in not using this tool, the manager made the blunder mistake of his life.” MMM did not know about the manager, but if there was “blunder mistake” committed, it was by MMM in attending this seminar and getting a earful of English. Now before MMM’s Tamil loving friends label him an apologist for the British Raj and call for his removal from the post of roving dogsbody at MM (MMM can picture the hysteria building up – burning of effigies, protests, human chains, one day fasts, token fasts, fasts unto death and finally a walk out in the legislature), let MMM assure them that he is all for purity in any language. Let them not commit a blunder mistake in judging MMM.
But that was not all. That very afternoon MMM was at a shop that sold bathroom fittings. MMM asked for a selection of items and a very confident shop assistant came forward. “Myself Miss XYZ” said the beaming child. Having identified what MMM wanted she then did a quick calculation and presented it to MMM. Having reacted to it as though his hand had been bitten by a tap and he had been hit on the head with a towel rail, MMM, in Tamil, asked the girl to remove a few of the items from the list. After all, who needs Jacuzzi fittings in Chennai when we should consider ourselves lucky to have water from a tap? “I cutted this out” said the girl. MMM once again in Tamil asked for an item to be added to the list. “I putted that it in” said the beaming lass. MMM gave up. No doubt she had been told by her boss to speak only in English to customers. Communicate in English, he must have said, or you will be committing a blunder mistake. But MMM cannot able to appreciate such English.
Confiding about the imminent demise of English to a friend MMM was delighted to hear this story. The friend was recruiting girls who would be in the business tele-marketing and they had all arrived at his office. His assistant came in and in a stentorian voice announced that “all the call girls had come for him to interview and make his selection!” Now that is the mother of all blunder mistakes. MMM wonders how his friend could be able to handle it.
Although young journalists often refer to him in avuncular terms, the Man from Madras Musings is not all that old. But he remembers a time in the not so distant past when toilets were always at a respectable distance from the principal rooms in a residence or office. But such is the obsession (or should MMM say attachment?) to toilets and baths and the necessity to have them abutting the bedrooms or office chamber that MMM can be pardoned to assume that most people in Chennai have bowel incontinence. MMM hears of a house-owner with a bungalow built in the 1950s who has been desperate to let it out on rent, only to have most prospective tenants reject it on the grounds that there are no toilets attached. MMM also finds the other negatives listed against old buildings quite amusing and here are a few samples:
And so we come back to the same point. MMM blames it all on the television culture wherein people are trained to answer calls of nature during commercial breaks. This naturally necessitates having a toilet close by. Though what is there in television serials that demands complete attention and concentration MMM is unable to fathom. The stories never move beyond a few inches and even if you spent a whole month away from them, you can pick up the threads in a few seconds. That is, if the actors playing the principal characters have not quit and a new cast has not taken their place. In which case you need a few more minutes.
To get back to the bathrooms and toilets, the obsession to have them as close as possible (stopping short of walking around with one of them attached to the person) has resulted in many old buildings being “remodeled” to include them at all odd spots. These then leak all over the place, causing seepage and thereby more damage to the building. If only we could come to accept that toilets need to be at some distance. But in a city where people relieve themselves at all places and at all times, such an attitude may be too much to expect.
Going back to school
The Man from Madras Musings assumed that there were few professions in the world where you were unfortunate enough to write examinations all through your life. But he understands from some of his friends that being a parent is enough. Come examination time and fathers and mothers of school going children are studying as much as if not more than their children. A father recently complained to MMM that he finds the going tough and while seventh standard was well within his reach, eighth has had him nonplussed. He shudders at the thought of higher education and hopes that he would not have to once again go through engineering if and when his children take to that discipline. “Courage!” said MMM. “What if it were medicine?” The father was not consoled. He feared that in the latter instance he would wind up as the guinea pig.