Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee



Vanishing water bodies

Water Bodies are vanishing from urban areas at great speed. The result is catastrophic. Experts feel that last year’s Chennai flood was primarily because of the filling of water bodies in the city.  Bhubaneswar a hilly city should never face water logging problem. In fact it was one of the reasons for which it was chosen to be the new capital of Odisha (Orissa then) in 1948. Seventy years later, many parts of Bhubaneswar gets water logged because the drainage channels have been blocked by land sharks and/or slums.

Small towns are also increasingly facing the same problem. My journalist friend Manoranjan Das has uploaded a satellite picture of Baripada, a historical town in Odisha. It was the capital of Mayurbhanj, a pricely state, ruled by Bhanja dynasty. Baripada was chosen as there were many water bodies in this area, which also gave its name (bari– water, pada– land; the land with water). I stayed in this beautiful town for about five years in early 1990s.

Manoranjan Das says that the big ponds and water bodies are being systematically filled and grabbed as the civic authoritiers look the other way. This is happening more or less in all towns across the country.

This must be stopped to prevent disaster striking us. Stringent legal and administrative action must be taken to protect water bodies which not only keeps the underground water level high by recharging the underground aquifers, it also cools the micro climate and helps purify the air.


In the last couple of weeks there were several bandhs across the country, called by different political parties and groups on various issues. Every bandh throws ordinary life out of gear. Besides negatively impacting the economy every bandh damages the social harmony. It makes people nervous, scared and angry. People are scared to go about doing their routine works. Mothers are scared to send children to school. Children are scared to go to play grounds. Market places look empty. Everybody looks around with suspicion and nervousness. A palpable tension fills the air. The normal cheerfulness of people is gone.  Hatred takes over. Added with pent up anger it is a dangerous tool,  that can be manipulated by vested interest.

Bandh paralyses normal life. What is life without the freedom to move, freedom to laugh and smile. Bandh damages the very core of social life.

But bandh is a weapon of assertion. A tool to gain political mileage. A wand that a group can wield to wrest something from hapless people and weak or gullible government. Unfortunately we are succumbing to the politics of bandh.

As the general election is nearing, the frequency of bandh call will only increase.


Golgappa has many names across the country. In northern states of India people call it panipuri. Bengalis and Odias like to call it phuchka or puchuka. But I like the word golgappa. Pronounce it slowly and you will feel its fragile rounded shape, and will have the urge of putting a couple in your mouth post haste.

Any Indian recipe book will tell you that it is a common street snack in several regions of the Indian subcontinent. It consists of a round, hollow puri, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavored water, tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion or chickpeas.

But golgappa is no ordinary street food. You don’t order a plateful of golgappa and eat alone in a fancy restaurant. That is not the way you have it. There is an elaborate ritual before you eat golgappa. You join a group, standing in a circle around the golgappawala and eat in a group in sessions.

Golgappa is age-defying. I had a session last evening. In the circle were a three and half year old girl, her mother and grandmother, me and Anita, my wife and a tough looking bearded young man of 26. The little girl beat us all. I can proudly say I discovered a golgappa-gulping prodigy.
Come to think of it, golgappa is the most democratic of snacks. Prepared with humble ingredients and much less fuss- it is inexpensive and it fills you up.
It is a great leveller too. Whoever you may be, you’ll have to stand in a circle around the golgappawala with katora/leaf plate at hand and wait for your turn.

Tailpiece: Dilliwala

Mark  Zuckerberg’s car met with an accident with a Delhiwala‘s car.


Delhiwala comes out of his car and shouts at him ‘Tu jaanta nahi mera Baap kaun hai…’ (You do not know who my father is!)


Mark: Yes, I know. His name is Jaspal Singh, he has 237 friends out of which 35 are women, your mother does not have knowledge of 10 of them. Last year your father went to Bangkok for holiday, there he enjoyed with……


Delhiwala:  Ab bas kar, galti meri thi!!

(Courtesy: Social Media)


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 been published last month.

[email protected]