Who would have thought our own stinky river would emerge the hero of Madras Week? Yet, this was undoubtedly so. Journalists jotted entries on it, talkers talked, walkers walked and cyclists cycled along its banks, all with a view to bringing focus on its pathetic condition. It only now remains for a film star or two to adopt parts of it. Success will then be assured in its clean up. Presently, The Man from Madras Musings is of the view that it was those who were tasked with the clean-up who cleaned up big. How else do you explain the complete lack of results as far as the river is concerned?But let us pigeon-hole the Cooum clean-up for the nonce. What MMM wanted to write about was an event that was held at one of the oldest libraries of the city, which also stands on the banks of the river. The speaker for the evening was a person whom MMM had known practically from the cradle, and so MMM too was present. The weather was sultry and during much of the presentation MMM’s friend sweated profusely. At the end of it all he asked the audience if they had any questions when an elderly gent, who had all along been rather restless, stood up and launched into what promised to be a long story on the life of a famed dubash who after death became a philanthropist. It almost gave MMM the feeling that there were two speakers that evening. It was in vain that the organisers tried to catch the pretender’s eye and get him to sit down. But he, like the Ancient Mariner, was immune to it all. On and on he went. This was until someone dropped something or the other with quite a loud noise in the vicinity. The speaker paused and MMM, realising that this was where he did some good to society at large, prised the microphone from the budding Demosthenes, thanked him profusely and brought the event to a close.
A similar situation was witnessed by MMM at another event, which focussed on the Emergency of the 1970s. Here too was a heckler of sorts, into whose soul the iron appeared to have entered in a big way. Halfway through a rather erudite summing up of the Emergency by two senior journalists, he stood up and began to deride them for not mentioning anything about the death during the Emergency of ‘Sitty Babu, sitting yumpee’. It took quite a while before MMM realised that the man was referred to a sitting legislator who died under rather strange circumstances during the Emergency.
But all this paled into insignificance besides the behaviour of the wife of a retired bureaucrat. One of the programmes, involving a famed actress, who was present in person to hear an actor-turned-film historian speak on her film career, was scheduled to begin at 7.00 pm. The hall had filled up by 6.30. The better half of the retired bureaucrat walked up to MMM and demanded that the event begin at once. She had to go for dinner she said at 7.15 and so it would be good if MMM advanced the starting time so that she could hear a good part of the presentation and yet be home in time to receive guests when they arrived. MMM refused politely and the event began as scheduled. What intrigued MMM was that the lady in question stayed on till 9.00 pm when the programme ended. What happened to her guests is what MMM would like to know.