Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee |

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Visakhapatnam

I recently visited Visakhapatnam. I had been there two and half years ago about a month or so after cyclone Hudhud hit this coastal city  in Oct 2014.

Nicknamed Vizag, Visakhapatnam is the largest city in present Andhra Pradesh.  The city is often known as ‘the Jewel of the East Coast’, ‘the City of Destiny’ and the ‘Goa of the East Coast’ for its unique location, natural beauty, economic prowess and cosmopolitan culture.

Visakhapatnam’s history stretches back to the 6th century. Historically, it was considered part of the Kalinga region, and later ruled by the Vengi kingdom, the Pallava and Eastern Ganga dynasties. Archaeological records suggest that the present city was built around the 11th and 12th centuries CE with control over the city fluctuating between the Chola Dynasty and the Gajapati Kingdom until its conquest by the Vijayanagara Empire in the 15th century. Conquered by the Mughals in the 16th century, European powers eventually set up trading interests in the city, and by the end of the 18th century it had come under French rule. Control passed to the British in 1804 and it remained under British colonial rule until India’s independence in 1947. After independence, Visakhapatnam developed into one of the country’s chief ports and became the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy.

Cyclone Hudhud devastated Visakhapatnam in late October 2014. When I visited last, the city had not yet recovered from the destruction the cyclone had caused. The airport was in a shambles. The greenery at the sprawling campus of Andhra University located close to the beach was completely destroyed. Many of the buildings were yet to be repaired. The beautiful beach road had lost its marble clad embankments. There were ugly craters at places of drainage. The roads wore ravaged look, parks forlorn.

But my friend Prof Bobby Vardhan of Andhra University had said, “We Telugu people are resilient and hardworking. They will recover. Come next year, you will see a refurbished Vizag. Prof. Vardhan was right. As I moved around the city the transformation was there for everybody to see.

From the Vuda park up the hill in the evening, the city sparkled on the background of the blue sea.

I salute the resilience of Telugu people.

Cat Fact

Although cats have no great practical utility (except catching stray rodents), human beings have loved cats for the last 10,000 years all over the world. Cats are kept as pets all over the world. In fact cats are the most favourite pet in USA. Over a quarter of Australian households own a cat. No such pet-mapping has been done in India. But one can notice that cats are popular pets in India too.

Cats are interesting animal. Even after 11,000 years of domestication, cats can return to and adapt themselves in the wild in no time. This is unlike most of the domesticated animals.

No other domesticated animal has seen such wide swings in acceptance and rejection by human beings. Cats were revered in ancient Egypt. However, since the Middle Ages in Europe, cats have been associated with witchcraft and paganism and are credited with special powers, second sight and magical abilities. The mass destruction of thousands of cats at this time played a role in the rat epidemic and corresponding Black Death, which plagued Europe. Probably after that, there was a change in perception about the cats in the Western countries. And what a change! Cats have almost replaced the dogs as the most favoured pet.

And I am amazed at this fact. See, dogs are loyal, cats are not. Dogs sleeps bellow the sofa, cats on top. Dogs bark, cats meawoo. Dogs rest at your feet; cats lodge themselves on your lap. Dogs wait for you to give them food, cats snatch theirs’. Even then people adore cats.

I guess the mystique around the cat is responsible for this illogical fascination.

Another Book on the Railways

I love to travel by train. I love the rolling and rocking movement that comes as the train chugs along the iron rail. I love the changing scenes beyond the windows as the train travels from one terrain to the other. There are countless number of persons like me who love the train ride and the Indian Railways, despite its warts and all. Train journey, the railway stations have a romantic and mystic feel about it. That is probably why hundreds of stories have been written on the backdrop of the train.  Hundreds of thousands of photographs have been taken of the trains and travel by train. Many books have been written on Indian Railways.

Recently I came across yet another book on Indian Railways. Titled ‘Indian Railways: The Weaving of a National Tapestry’ this book is written by Bibek Debroy, Sanjay Chadda and Vidya Krishnamurthi. It tells you about the history of Indian Railways in an engaging anecdotal style.  It also highlights the role Indian Railways has played and is playing in knitting the country together.

Read this book, if Railways fascinate you.

Tailpiece: Love

Boy: I Love you

Girl: Daru chod sakte ho mere liye?

Boy: yes, of course. Bilkul chod dunga

Girl: Jo insane daru chod sakta hai, wo kisi ko vi chod sakta hai… Bye, and get lost.

 

Boy faints.

(Courtesy: Social Media forward)

 

 

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The columnist, a journalist-turned media academician lives in Dhenkanal, a dist HQ town n Central Odisha. He can be contacted at [email protected]

 

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