Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

Assam Diary: Memorial of Bhupen Hazarika

Recently I had been to Guahati University for three days and stayed in its Guest house, which is located very near to the entrance gate from Jalukbari side. Just outside the University gate, an Assamese architecture inspired memorial has been built for Dr. Bhupen Hazarika.

Bhupen Hazarika was and still remains one of the most respected and popular public figure in the north-east, particularly Assam.  Singer, lyricist, music composer, public figure (he was a Member of Legislature- MLA and contested in a general election) he wore many hats with equal élan. He was conferred with Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award of the country in 2012.

His major contribution was in the field of music. Known as ‘sudha-kantha’ (nectar-voice) his songs have been very popular in the country and abroad. His songs have been translated and rendered in many languages.

The memorial at Jalubari is tastefully done. His songs are played in this memorial, which is fairly well maintained. People, mostly young crowd come here, sit around, listen to his songs and take selfie with his statue at the background.
I think a board with a short bioprofile of Dr. Hazarika should have been there. And a shop selling memorabelia including his music CDs in different languages.

Chance Meeting

The other day I met a frail looking aged lady at the dinner table at the Guahati University Guest house.  She ate so little that I felt embarrassed to eat my usual quota of two chapattis and a bowl of vegetables. She probably could sense that and encouraged me to eat more by saying “you are still young”.
More embarrassed I asked her to change the topic: “You teach here?

She answered “I have come to conduct a dance workshop.”
– You teach Dance? There probably was that slight tinge of disbelief in my voice.
– Yes, she answered and pushed morsels of chapatti in her mouth.
When she finished her frugal supper, she fished a visiting card from her bag, gave me and left. I looked at the card.

She was Dr. Saroja Vaidyanathan, Padmashree awardee of 2002 and Padma Bhushan awardee of 2013, a Bharatnatyam exponent, author and choreographer.

Cringe Pop

I learnt about this genre of pop music from a girl student at the Dept. of JMC, who is doing her M.Phil and planning to do research on this.  Cringe pop refers to the music and music videos which are described as being “so bad that you cannot stop watching them”.

She told me, “please watch music videos of Mr. Rajkumar of Assam or Tahir Shah of Pakistan or of Dhinchak Puja. They are so bad that you somehow like them.

Encouraged I watched videos of Mr. Rajkumar., who I was told ‘is a sensation and has millions of followers across the globe”. The videos are actually so bad, music so pedestrian and the actors so grotesque, that you actually want to see more to know how bad these could be.

I am looking forward to meet Mr. Rajkumar (Thakuria) in person on my next visit to Guwahati.

Tale of a Mosquito

A gust of wind pushed a young female mosquito into the waiting aircraft in Guwahati airport. The doors closed just then. She was trapped inside. Scared, she shouted as loudly as a mosquito could. She prayed to the God as a mosquito could. But the door did not reopen. She was trapped inside.

After a while, disheartened that she could not escape she looked around and found many well-fed persons. She thought ‘let me make the best of the situation’. She started sucking blood from the first person she could dig her fangs in.  As there was no other mosquito around, there was no competition. So she sucked and sucked till she could drink no further. Content and happy she closed her eyes to thank God for taking her inside the aircraft.

Precisely at that moment a sharp and tight slap ended her life.

Idli Day

I did not know that 30 March was World Idli Day. I saw it on a social media post. Surfing the net for more information I learnt that, World Idli Day was the brainchild of Eniyavan, a popular idli-only caterer from Chennai. In 2015, he made a staggering 1,328 varieties of idlis to institute and commemorate this day. There was even a giant 44-kilogram idli that was cut by a top bureaucrat to seal the deal and declare March 30 as World Idli Day forevermore.

Sufficiently encouraged I tried to know more and learnt the history of idli.

Food historian KT Achayya claims that idli had its origins in Indonesia, where steamed food was quite popular. Others say that it was the Saurashtrian textile merchants who first introduced idli or Iddada to South India during 10th century AD.

A precursor of the modern idli is mentioned in several ancient Indian works. Vaddaradhane,  a 920 CE Kannada language work by Shivakotiacharya mentions ‘iddalige’ prepared only from a black gram (urad dal).

Tailpiece: Toothpaste

This has been taken from a young mother’s facebook post.

Four-day school holiday. First question of son (all of five years) on waking up the first morning: Why is it called toothpaste and not teethpaste?

This is going to be a long weekend.

Reply by son (all of four and half years) of another young mother: “it’s toothpaste because we need to take care of each tooth, no one should be neglected”

This is going to be a real long weekend.


The author is a journalist turned media academician. He lives in Central Odisha town Dhenkanal. He also writes fiction.  English translation of his Odia novel Yamraj Number 5003 has just been published. [email protected]