Archive for March, 2011
“The benign gaze of the ruler then fell upon me,” she wrote in her brief biography, published towards the end of her life in Gruhalakshmi magazine. This was in 1893 or thereabouts when she made her debut at the coming of age celebrations of the Princess Jayalakshmammani. The ruler Chamarajendra X became BNR’s first patron.
Prior to him there was a royal family member who was inflicting his unwanted attentions on her, aided and abetted by her uncle. But the Guru Munuswamappa rescued her from these two malefic planets as she wrote humorously. After the king became her man so to speak, these two must have fizzled out.
BNR’s relationship with the king lasted barely a year for he died in 1894 in Calcutta. She was then maintained by Justice Narahari Rao of the Mysore Law Court for whom she sang maTAda bAradenO and the rest is history of course.
I have caught the benign eye of Chamarajendra several times during my visits to Cubbon Park, which is practically every time I go to Bangalore. Cubbon Park is my idea of heaven. The king stands in a small enclosure and this time the gate to it was open. I then managed to take this photo. I noticed that he has lost half a shoe and a foot. And someone has stuck plastic pottus on his forehead and his belt buckle. But otherwise all is well.
He must have been rather old for her but then who are we to complain?
This tribute appeared today in The Hindu
This is a story that may be proceeding to a happy ending. I had been meaning to photograph this sign for quite some time now, passing as I do that way several times in a day. On Monday last, aided and abetted by the fact that I was already late for office and a few more minutes this way or that did not matter, I decided to take the photo. A man watched me till the end and then came and asked as to why I was taking a picture. Thinking that he is one of those cursed busybodies who does not like any photographs being taken of public spots (can you ever upload a photo of a private spot I wonder), I quickly replied that the English errors had made me do it. I then swiftly got into the car with as much dignity as I could muster (which is not much), only to have him running after me.
I decided to have it out with the fellow. Having put my camera safely away so that he could not make a dash for it, I asked him menacingly as to what he wanted. I was taken aback by his answer – “I want to know what the errors are,” he said. “You see, I am the contractor for that parking lot and so if you tell me the details, I will get a new sticker made.”
I restrained myself from embracing the fellow and gave him the corrections.I have since passed that way and not seen any changes but I am hopeful. I think the chap must be new to Chennai (oorkku putchu) for I cant attribute this humility to anything else. And if he doesn’t make the change, then I can understand that he has become acclimatized to the city!
Several of us have had the misfortune while driving to be harassed by cars with flashing red lights trying to get ahead under the pretext that it is carrying VIPs to their destinations. In the past few years, the number of such cars has increased exponentially giving us the impression that our Government functionaries, political and otherwise have no other business than to be on the roads, busily criss-crossing the city from meeting to meeting. It now appears that most of those using red lights were not in any way authorised to do so. And as usual, it has taken the Courts to try and set right this menace.
The matter came to judicial notice following a public interest litigation filed in the Tirupur Court. That town had apparently become a byword for official misuse of the privilege of using red lights on cars. Following an investigation it was revealed that only 19 persons were authorised to use the red lights. This included the Governor, Chief Minister, Speaker, Ministers, Mayors, Chief Justice and other judges, Director General of Police (Law and Order), ambulances, escort and pilot vehicles, Chairman and member of Advisory Board constituted under National Securities Act, zonal Inspectors General of Police (law and order). At the District Level, only the Collector and the Superintendent of Police are allowed to use the red light. In addition to these, the Nawab of Arcot, who is accorded the status of a Cabinet Minister is also allowed to use it. He incidentally is the only private citizen to be accorded this honour.
The Court has ordered that vehicles belonging to officials who not authorised to use red-lights but are doing so nevertheless be seized at once. The administration has promised that it will do the needful immediately. Which means that all those Vice Chancellors, Directors of Government Departments and political busybodies who had aggrandised for themselves the right to use these red lights will have to forfeit it. It may come as a sore disappointment to them but to the common man it will no doubt be a relief, for it will hopefully result in a fewer number of speeding Government cars that jump traffic lights on the sole strength of having a red light.
What is most disappointing however is the apathy of the administration that allows for such rampant misuse of official rights and perquisites. Is it not possible for the Government officials and our rulers to follow the law even in such simple matters as symbols of official status? Does it require a directive from the Courts when a decent level of self-regulation could have been practised in the first place? Perhaps what we need next is a public interest litigation demanding that chauffeurs of Government cars follow traffic discipline.
It is that time of the year Chief, when the thoughts of the Man from Madras Musings automatically drift towards seat-sharing, campaigning, slogan-raising and the rest of the hustle and bustle that go to make up electioneering in our country. MMM is all for it may he add and in all humility he feels that it is time that the heritage enthusiasts of the city participate more wholeheartedly in the process. For after all, elections are when the people’s voices are heard if our politicians are to be believed, and it is high time we made heritage a people’s process.
In this matter Chief, it is best that you follow what MMM advises, for as is well-known, you are but a babe in the woods when it comes to such procedures and MMM wishes to assure you that he, on the other hand, has given considerable thought to the whole thing. Firstly Chief, we need a party. Since no political party appears to be willing to touch heritage with a barge-pole, it is best that we launch ourselves on the plank of eradicating untouchability. We need a forum for that and why not create one by ourselves- the Chennai Heritage Munnetra Kazhagam (CHMK)? In this our land, it is important that the abbreviated name of the party makes sense and as you can see for yourself Chief, the initials CHMK are chic, stylish and very much in keeping with the acronyms of ALL other political outfits in the state. Next Chief, we need an organisation within the party. You had better be Kazhaga Thanthai or founding father. Naturally that also means you are elected President/Secretary for life. We can if you so wish, have party elections for this, but let MMM assure you that all your Kazhaga Thondars (for that is what your followers will be called) will file nominations only on your behalf. You also need a newsletter to be sent to the “beads of your eyes” which is a synonym for the Kazhaga Thondars referred to above. But for that you already have a media vehicle – Madras Musings.
Next we come to the matter of party manifesto. Ours will be simple. Our slogan will be ‘Old is Gold’. We shall fight to bring heritage, hitherto an unmentionable, untouchable and most backward subject into the mainstream of local thought. If elected, we will ensure that heritage is in the forefront, sharing the dais, walking through the same streets and drinking out of the same glasses as such privileged subjects as real estate, flyover building and ground-breaking for underground projects. It will have its reserved quota of legislative time. Our party symbol will be a silhouette of the Bharat Insurance Building and if LIC objects, we can always settle for the Gokhale Hall. Once elected our first step will be to re-re-rename several localities. Kattupakkam will be Catawaulk, Mylapore and Triplicane will be covenanted to remain as such in the Constitution and Valasaravakkam will be Wazarawaulk as it appeared in Company records.
Chief, you in all your innocence may be worried about not attracting enough followers. And this where you err. It is high time we unleashed the powers of your regular contributors on the general public. Prema Kasturi will handle schools and college and it may be best that INTACH under her becomes the Youth Brigade or Ilaignar Ani (all parties have one). Chithra Madhavan will organise meetings outside temples, Ranjitha Ashok will take care of clubs, Sriram V of the sabhas, Pradeep Chakravarthy will take care of campaigning in Tamil and Biswajit Balasubramanian will be in charge of political graffiti. Anwar, Susheela Ravindranath and Sashi Nair can handle the press and as for street-corner meetings, since we do not want to disrupt traffic, we can have them in parks, courtesy Shobha Menon. Dr G Sundaram, having been in the IAS will be our advisor once we are elected to power. CG Prasad and Dharmeswaran Natesan will handle mailers and letters to the public. With that we are all settled.
In case you are concerned about where the money is going to come from Chief, let MMM assure you that you only need to form a party and announce it at a suitable forum (like say the Madras Book Club) and you will see that the moolah flows in like water. That has been the story of all political outfits for they have all grown powerful only through the contributions made by the beads of the leader’s eyes. We can also hope to do the same. Once we have declared ourselves political, we can also aim to form a television channel and thereby take heritage directly into households. A few mega-serials shot in George Town, Chepauk and the Marina will definitely help. Storyline is of no consequence and as for locations we can safely manage with car-chases down the Marina, street fights in Town, arrest and interrogation scenes at the Harbour police station (which is a heritage building) and the Stanley/RSRM Hospital for bedside sequences. That is all we need apart from a few scenes showing women either fighting or weeping hysterically. That can be done in any heritage home. So, what say Chief? Are we all set for a shot at the hustings? You just have to say the word Chief and your followers will take care of the rest. And who knows, we may be then called for seat-sharing talks. If so we will insist on our share – Chepauk, George Town, Royapuram, Mylapore, Triplicane and other such old areas will be ours. And if elected we will have the swearing-in ceremony either at the Senate House or the Tamil Nadu Archives.
The Woes of being a Policeman
It is not often that the Man from Madras Musings writes on a serious note and his lack of sobriety (in writing that is, for otherwise let MMM assure his readers that all these columns are thought up only the strength of water and milk) has often caused concern. The Chief has frequently asked him to curb his (MMM’s) levity. But there are happenings that make MMM sad and one of these is the plight of the traffic constable. Most of us on the roads curse this man whose thankless job it is to keep the traffic flowing when all of us are doing our best to jump traffic lights, move to the wrong side of the road, jaywalk or park our car in exactly the wrong places. And as the temperature (political and metrological) keeps increasing, the task of this man requires the patience of Job. It was just the other day that the news broke of a policeman having committed suicide owing to work pressure. The body was kept in the Royapettah mortuary and thanks to the comings and goings of several kith and kin and also senior police officers, the traffic became unmanageable. MMM had to travel by that route almost four times during the hottest times of the day. And each time he saw a lone harried constable trying his level best to keep the traffic flowing. The waiting time on all sides of the junction had extended to at least 15 minutes and each driver as he/she passed the policeman had only a nasty word to say about the way the traffic was being managed. But, and this is what MMM would like to emphasise- the traffic WAS managed pretty well. There was no accident, the vehicles did move, albeit slowly and the lone policeman did remain on duty, the heat, the dust and the pollution notwithstanding, in addition to the probable trauma of losing a colleague. So was it not an occasion to complement the man instead of abusing him?
Note: The Chief is S Muthiah; he is the editor of Madras Musings in which this column was published with a few minor changes.
I missed it as I went to Calcutta (after 18 years). However, on the night before the Ther, I did take this photograph of it, in all readiness to host Kapali. A new feature I noticed this year, was that in the Somaskanda icon, the Skanda is detached and placed on the lap of Kapaliswara, almost as though the father is showing his infant son the sights of Mylapore. On enquiry I found out that this has been the practice for the past four years though I never noticed it myself.
Those who attended the Ther festival said that the entire procession was completed in record time. It set out at 6.00 am and by 9.30 am it was back at the base. This must have been done keeping in mind the traffic on RK Mutt Road. Serves you right Kapali! Just think of our plight when we are made to make haste inside your temple. Now we have paid you back in your own coin.