Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

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Walking…Talking

Walking, my doctor friend tells me, is the best exercise. It reduces stress. Helps to keep your heart strong. Reduces cholesterol. Helps in digestion. Messages your foot. Improves blood circulation. Strengthens the muscles. It also lets you think.

I fail to understand why most of our cities are so pedestrian-unfriendly! You just cannot walk. Either there is no footpath, or if there is, then it has been occupied by street vendors or heaps of garbage. There are umpteen numbers of stray cattle and marauding street dogs whom you need to avoid for your own safety. Then there are bike riders who love to show off their skill by zooming past dangerously. There are bus drivers with a penchant to stop inches from you. The car drivers look at you with a contemptuous look painted on their faces. The simple act of walking on the road seems like a dangerous stunt and you feel like a ‘khatro ki khiladi’.

Most of these problems could be tackled with a strong law enforcing mechanism and civil society pressure. People should be encouraged to walk or cycle more. It has several plus points. It will keep people fit. If people walk or cycle to their workplace, it will save on fossil fuel and in turn make the environment clean and healthy. In many European countries, Denmark for example, people are going to their work place by cycle- for health and environmental reasons.

It makes sound economic and environmental sense to keep our cities and towns pedestrian and cycling friendly.

Gold Prices

In the past couple of weeks gold prices are hovering around Rs 29,000 per 10 grams. It was about Rs 31,000/- in November 2016. Though there is a decrease in price, as per the industry insiders the sales have reduced.  This seems like a paradox.

Usually people buy more gold when the prices are down. However, there is a different reason for the sales to dip. People with money do not want to attract the attention of the tax men by buying gold worth more than Rs 50,000 as they have to submit KYC. As Economic Times report dated 21 Sept. 2017 says, that the gold sales have almost halved since the previous month. The festive season of Dussehra and Dhanteras (from late September to mid November) accounts for as much as 60 per cent of India’s annual gold sales.

Gold has been a valuable and highly sought-after precious metal for coinage, jewellery, and other arts since long before the beginning of recorded history. A total of 165,000 tonnes of gold have been mined in human history, until the end of 2009. The world consumption of new gold produced is about 50% in jewellery, 40% in investments, and 10% in industry.

India is the world’s largest single consumer of gold, as Indians buy about 25% of the world’s gold, purchasing approximately 800 tonnes of gold every year, mostly for jewellery.

Arna Jharna Desert Museum in Jodhpur

Do you know that there are over 237 kinds of brooms in use in Rajasthan? Do you know the brooms which are used indoors are considered ‘female’ and those which are used outdoors are considered ‘male’? And do you know that there are several deities in Rajasthan, where brooms are offered as offering at their shrines? The brooms used in a particular area are again are linked with the major crop grown in that particular area.

I did not know anything about the brooms, except the fact that it is used to clean and occasionally to swat insects. And at times it is used as ‘patent medicine’ by the wife on errand husband as depicted by a hilarious story written by Fakir Mohan Senapati, who is credited with the distinction of writing the first Odia short story.

A visit to Arna Jharna Desert Museum, about 20 kms off Jodhpur enlightened me on the most mundane of household articles: brooms. In fact a whole gallery is devoted to brooms. There is another gallery which showcases musical instruments of Rajasthan.

Spread over 10 acres of arid land, this uniquely designed museum believes to nurture and cultivate living culture. There is an amphitheatre, where one can watch live performances by local artists and have local food.

This museum was established and is being run by Rupayan Sansthan, a NGO founded by the renowned folklorist and ethnomusicologist writer Komal Kothari who was conferred with Padma Bhushan and Padmashree Vijaydan Detha, an eminent Rajasthani writer.

This museum is now trying to link cultural research with larger realities of development. Besides opening up livelihood opportunities for the local folk artists and artisan, it is also creating awareness on intangible cultural heritage of Rajasthan.

To know more about this museum surf www.arnajharna.org or email: [email protected]

Tailpiece 1: Saint

There was a saint, who used to listen to the problems of all who came to him. He used to answer stupidest of the questions with a smile on his face. Nobody saw him losing his temper even once. None could find even a trace of irritation on his face.

As time went by, the tale of his infinite patience travelled far and wide. One day a journalist landed at his ashram.

The journalist asked, “Baba how you be so patient and cool? Who is your guru? Where did you learn to be so paitient?”

Baba looked this side and that side. Finding no one at the earshot, Baba said, Beta, don’t tell this to anyone, I was a salesman at a Saree Showroom for over twenty years.

Tailpiece-2: Buddha and Buddhu

Buddha was a prince, who left his palace in search of peace and we all Buddhus are in search of a palace at the cost of our peace.

(Courtesy: Social Media Post)

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A journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, a Central Odisha hilly town. He also writes fiction. [email protected]

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