It is done, Chief! Exactly as you had predicted it would be a celebration worthy of 375 years. Old Mother Madrasnever had it so good before. Cakes, books, talks, walks, film screenings, exhibitions, quizzes, rides, sails, TV features, news reports, tweets, fb posts, blogs, photo sessions… you name it, we had it. And The Man from Madras Musings was happy to see you, Chief, flitting from spot to spot, so to speak, always being greeted by someone who wanted to be photographed with you.
MMM confined himself to a few select walks, talks and other events, and it is of the quirkier side of these that he takes pen in hand to write about. And he has strange tales to tell you, Chief, that will make whatever is left of your knotted and combined locks part and stand on end like quills on a fretful porpentine, as the Bard put it so wonderfully. MMM well remembers his column a couple of years ago when he wrote on the freeloaders who descended on the events in droves. He had mentioned about their eating habits, their table manners and their tendency to generally behave like camels – stacking up in their vast interiors enough reserves of food to last till the next Madras Week. That, if you recollect, Chief, got the old magazine into trouble. Several of the freeloaders wrote back saying that it was the organisers’ bounden duty to feed them as compensation for their having to listen to the speeches in full. And so MMM will not speak of that lot beyond mentioning that their numbers have dwindled. Perhaps it is on doctor’s advice. But MMM misses some of them, particularly the granny who used to come with three generations of her family. He did notice her on Day One when the hotel served just coffee and tea in a marked manner. She stayed off since then, perhaps assuming that in this depressed economic scenario other hotels may offer just the odd biscuit and glass of water. Though a few venues really gave just that, others more than made up for it and so I hope this Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe (she had so many children she did not know what to do) will be with us in the Madras Weeks to come. But others were there in full strength.
The sleeveless wonder is, of course, a regular now. He laughs uproariously for no particular reason and, of course, surreptitiously records every one of the events, though for what earthly purpose MMM does not know. May be he plans a parallel event in the underworld. Then there is he of bouncer-build who feeds on everything that is on offer including, in MMM’s view, the paper plates and the polystyrene cups. At one event, MMM, not having much else to do, counted the man consuming twenty savouries, fifteen cups of sweets, twelve plates of fritters and six cups of coffee. The man slept soundly during the panel discussion that followed (after six cups of coffee!!). The next day saw another panel discussion on food when, during question time, up bounced the bouncer and spoke of how he had seen cockroaches and stones in his food in restaurants and had had to complain about them. MMM wondered if it was because they were not well done and so he could not eat them.
Yet another event was at a bookshop-cum-boutique-cum-restaurant. One of the honoured guests chose to filch a book from the display and walk away. He was fortunately apprehended after the event and the book retrieved from him. Crime is raising its ugly head during Madras Week, Chief, and if that is not a sure sign of success, then MMM does not know what is.