Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee


National Hug and Wink Day

The amount of discussion that Rahul Gandhi’s hug and wink in the parliament created, July 20 should be declared as ‘National Hug and Wink Day’.

Ruchir Joshi in his delightful article titled The ambush hug (published in Kolkata based English daily The Telegraph on 24 July) discussed the anthropology of hug: “Anthropologically we are taught that a hug is both an attack and an  invitation, but in this the caveat is that the action is mutually initiated and fulfilled; as you come towards me (attack), I open my arms to receive your body (invitation), but I am also hurtling slowly towards you (attack), and your open arms (invitation)”.   Media experts saw in it Rahul’s coming of age so far using television as an ally in high profile image-boosting coup. The cartoonists went overboard and drew so many cartoons that I lost count of. Political pundits saw so many things in the act of hug and wink that I am now really baffled.

Besides so many other things, three major points of views emerged. One, Rahul Gandhi should not have done this in the hallowed hall of parliament. Two, Rahul Gandhi did good by hugging Modi and then winking to underline that it is not an innocuous act. Three, Modi should not have reacted the way he did.

I do not know which one was right, but it is the second wink in recent times that created this amount of flutter. Therefore I second the idea of declaring July 20 as the National Hug and Wink Day.

Election in Pakistan

By the time this column is published elections in Pakistan would be over.

Election in Pakistan has not got the amount of space and time in the mainstream media in India as it should have, considering its political importance at the backdrop of the strained Indo-Pak relationship and the geo-strategic importance Pakistan commands in world politics.

Rahul Jalali, veteran journalist and media academician writes in his facebook page on 23 July: “Two days from now Pakistan will go to polls in an election that will not only set the tone for the future of Pakistan, but for us and the World too. Pakistan is currently in the midst of an Army dictated elections where the central tone is mainstreaming of terrorist outfits”.
As I write this I can only hope the liberals of Pakistan make their voice heard and people of Pakistan say a resounding no to terrorism.

Our Cities

Recent incessant rain created havoc in many cities of Odisha including Bhubaneswar, the Number 1 Smart city of the country. Many cities experienced water logging for several days. Traffic came to a standstill. Boats had to be deployed to rescue marooned people.

This is increasing happening in most of our cities including mega-cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi. Gradually it is happening in cities like Bhubaneswar, which never used to experience this because it is hilly and endowed with natural drainage system.

Water logging in cities indicates two things: failure of administration and our apathy towards having an efficient drainage system. In our greed to usurp land we block the drainage area, we throw garbage into the drain. The administration and the political bosses look the other way, because they too have an interest there. Be it vote bank politics that allows people to build slums right on the way of storm water drainage or simple greed to earn money by allowing builders to build wherever they want- the problem is compounded. And ultimately the city suffers. We suffer- for generations.

Future Cities

In not a very distant future almost all our cities will be remain submerged during the rainy season. What do we do then? Here are some ideas:
1. Car aggregators like Ola and Uber will have boat services in our cities.
2. Engineers will manufacture cars that can be converted into boats with a flick of a button. You have seem something like this in James Bond movies. In the next five years’ time, probably less, you will own or forced to own one.
3. Bhubaneswar will be rebranded as Venice of India. The first man-made canal lined city in the world on a hilly terrain. Delhi probably will lay calim to be the secon in the series.
4. The roads will double up as canals and it will be put into multiple uses. Fishery department will encourage pisciculture- fish farming in flooded roads. Tourism Department will start water sports in collaboration with the Sports department. Vocational Training Department will encourage entrepreneurs to open swimming training institutes on every muhalla.

‘Bol Bom Yatra’

Come Shravan , the second month of the Rainy season the ‘Bol Bom Yatra’ as it is called in Odisha begins. This year it has begun and it will continue till the end of Shraban month.
Tens of thousands of orche clad devotees of all ages will walk barefoot carrying two pitchers full of water to Mahadev Temples. The roads will be clogged, railway stations and compartments will be jam packed. The temple premises and nearby areas will be littered with all kinds of waste and refuse.

The number of Bol Bom devotees are increasing every passing year creating more pressure on the civic amenities.

This yatra also happens in West Bengal Bihar and Jharkhand and in some North Indian States. My friend Tulu Patnaik tells me that in Delhi and further upto Haridwar it has taken the shape of an avalanche. The national highway to Haridwar is almost clogged. The aggression of the kanwadias (as the devotees are called there) is scary. They break all traffic rules and cause insufferable inconveniences to the common people.

All in the name of religion. Har Har Mahadev!

Photo: Ashok Panda

A joke

A joke often tells you the gist of a complex phenomenon instantly, or explains you so succinctly that it is almost like revelation. It is like a key that opens the treasure of meanings. It is like a flash of lightning which illuminates your mind for a fraction of a second. If you are alert, willing and intelligent- you will grasp the meaning instantly. A joke has several layers. You can peel those layers according to your intellect, understanding and value system and enjoy accordingly.
A joke is not a joke. It often is a riddle.

Tailpiece 2: Punjabi Mother

It is rightly said … there is no one in this world who knows you better than your mother. Punjabi mothers know this better than anybody. Here is an example:  I went today to buy specs for myself and the shopkeeper showed me all the rimless, super delicate frames. I told him, “Please show me something with a solid frame … which has a good grip.” He brought me more rimless stuff. Then my mother took over and tautly told him: Show her something which she can even throw when she is angry and doesn’t break.

I got my specs in a jiffy.

(Courtesy: Dalvinder Kaur)


Mrinal Chatterjee, a journalist –turned media academician lives in Central Odisha town of Dhenkanal.

[email protected]