Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

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Rain

The monsoon usually hits Odisha on 13-14 June. There is a festival also in Odisha to usher the rainy season called Raja (pronounced Rawjaw), about which I wrote last week. Bengal too gets monsoon rain around that time. But this year, monsoon rani played truant. There was no rain during raja festival. Whole of Odisha and large part of Bengal literally sizzled with temperature in many places crossing over 40 degree centigrade.

Rain of rather lack of it dominated public discourse at the grass root level (called adda in Bengal) despite world cup football in Russia and BJP withdrawing support from PDP. Everybody kept looking at the sky and expecting to see dark clouds. But the clear blue sky showed a fiery sun determined to keep the clouds away.

And then, one evening the dark clouds made entry- slowly but steadily. Soon, the sky was covered by slate-grey clouds, bearing rain. There were lightning followed by rumbling sound of thunder.  The electricity went off plunging the entire town where I live into darkness.

Lightning

In a dark night at the campus of IIMC, where I live, the hills suddenly become visible when there are lightning. It is kind of surreal. You are suddenly aware that you are surrounded by hills. You look at those hills illuminated in split second electric-blue lights. Looking at those mighty hills, you feel humbled. You feel one with the force of nature.

Then you hear the rumbling sound of the thunder. Am I scared? At times I am. But most of the times I enjoy the sound, as it heralds rain. Nectar from the sky pour down quenching the thirst of the earth. As the rain water enters deep into the earth- life erupts in its finest glory. The grey hills turn green. The small streams spring into life.

Seed

As my books ‘Window Seat’ and ‘Shakti’ was released at Kalinga Literature Festival in Bhubaneswar mango seeds taken from Dhenkanal, where I live were distributed among the audience. Dhenkanal, for your information is a prime mango growing district of Odisha, which produces almost one fifth of the total mango produced in the state. It grows some exotic variety of mangoes.  We requested the audience to plant these seeds in coming rainy season, which was just round the corner.
Any seed, like any window indicates possibilities and potential. Sow the seed, take care and it grows into a tree and may realise its full potential. Similarly window shows you the outer world and draws into an engagement with the unknown- which eventually brings out the best in you.
Both have the ‘shakti’ to transform you and probably the world around.
Many present during the book release ceremony took the seeds with great interest.

I do not know how many seeds would be planted would grow to its full potential. But I am hopeful that some of them will definitely be planted and grow.

 

Dependence on Mobile Phone

The degree to which we depend on phones to complete basic tasks and to fulfil important needs such as learning, safety and staying connected to information and to others is increasing every passing day.  Smartphones have increasingly become the tool we use to navigate and organize our daily lives. From keeping our calendars, getting directions, and communicating instantly with others, to helping us answer any questions we might possibly have about the state of our world or the people in it, our dependence on devices is clearly increasing.

This dependence has important psychological consequences. For example, research on transactive memory finds that when we have reliable external sources of information about particular topics at our disposal, then this reduces our motivation and ability to acquire and retain knowledge about that particular topic. Consider a simple fact:  in earlier times we remembered at least ten twenty telephone numbers. Now hardly anybody remembers any. In the past, the primary sources of information on which we could depend to outsource our knowledge have been other people. But now we have a source of near omniscience in our pockets. Why bother remembering anything when you can always just ask Siri or google? Indeed, research finds that when it comes to the acquisition and retention of information, our brains treat our devices like relationship partners. So perhaps it is not surprising that we should experience such distress when this relationship is lost because your phone is out of order or has run out of battery. You suffer from an anxiety as to how would you function without your trusted partner. Go one step further and you are scared of losing your phone, now called nomophobia and suffer from stress and anxiety because of this.

 

My student Samarpita Das has posted this on her facebook wall that I think is quite illuminating: For two days when my cell phone stopped working, I realized what stole my peace.

 

 

Tailpiece 1: How long do you use your Toothbrush…?

 

A Doctor was conducting a survey : How long do you use your Toothbrush…?

Chinese: 6 months…!

American: 3 months…!!

Indian: There is no fixed time limit doctor, may be years…!!!  Initially we use it for brushing our teeth; then we use it for dying our hair, cleaning ornaments and cleaning machine parts of our vehicles. Then when there no bristles left on the brush, we use it for pushing ‘Naada‘ in our Chaddis, Pajamas and Petticoats…!!!

Dentist fainted.

(Courtesy: Social Media)

 

Tailpiece 1: World Cup Football

FIFA World Cup Football is ideal for us Indians. Support as many teams as you want, change loyalties on a daily basis, support multiple teams a day, even two in the same match, cheer every goal. Perfect, no?

(Courtesy: Nanda Gopal Rajan)

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Mrinal Chatterjee, a journalist –turned media academician lives in Central Odisha town of Dhenkanal. He also writes fiction. English translation of his Odia novel Shakti and compilation of his columns Window Seat have just been published.

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