Madras Week also saw several sidekicks of the Chief making it big on the small screen. The actor, the writer/entrepreneur (as he calls himself), and the photographer were all there, rather in the manner of the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. One of these programmes also had a former Member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly holding forth on the history of the city. The man, who rejoices in the name of the powerful God who wielded the plough, had apparently represented Park Town at one time and, so, considers himself quite an authority. And so he gave all viewers a lesson in history.
It was then that The Man from Madras Musings realised that the Chief has all along been hoodwinking us with his version of the history of Madras. The former MLA claimed that the area we know of as Town was in reality two parts – George Town and Black Town. The former, he claimed, was a white enclave where apartheid was strictly followed. The ‘dirty natives’, he said, were sent to the periphery and there they eked out a precarious living in areas such as Royapuram, Wall Tax Road and Park Town. All this was said with a breezy insouciance that only a politician can bring to a subject that he knows nothing about. If MMM had been on the spot he could have asked the man as to how was it then that most of the streets of George Town were named after Indian dubashes.
The former MLA then moved on to wax eloquent on the Cooum which, he said, is one of the longest rivers in the country, becoming Buckingham Canal when in the city! If this be the level of knowledge of our lawmakers, is it any wonder that the Town and the river are in such bad shape?!
At yet another event, an officer from the country’s oldest civic body chose to make his speech in song. The burden of the song by a National Poet was whether, after making a beautiful lute, it could be cast into the mud to destroy it. MMM could not help wondering if the song ought not to be adopted by the Corporation as its anthem, for it appeared to be doing to the city exactly what the poet had written about the stringed instrument.
And that brings MMM to another event. A heritage walk in the vicinity of the Sacred Tank of Lilies was about to begin. One of the Chief’s acolytes was just clearing his throat prior to leading the tour when a clear-voiced participant asked if the roads to be traversed were ‘mucky’. MMM wondered if any thoroughfare in the city was anything else but that.