Book recco: TGWAB

The calligraphy of the graffiti artists was superb, sometimes as beautiful as the brushstroked Bengali words that adorned posters and book covers. The hammer and sickle, the political symbol of the communist left parties, is the first punctuation mark I remember; also the bearded trio of Marx, Lenin and (fading into historical distance) Stalin. Sometimes the fragile framework of the Howrah Bridge, sketched in black and green paint sounded a more wistful note. In my reams, the walls and their words are alive and the black slashes and rounded stomachs of the Bengali letters undulate, pushing and shoving past me like crowds shouting worn, familiar slogans: ‘Amader daabi maantey hobe! Chobe na, chilbe na!’ (‘Our demands must be heard! This won’t do, this won’t do!’)

Later, as a student in the city, I grew used to the walls and took their chatter for granted; they were as verbal as the rest of Kolkata. You walked and drove among colourful and carefully calligraphed slogans, Bengali advertisements, as though the pages of magazines and flapping banners had been frozen in stone and brick, as if the city itself was a large, living, illustrated book.

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The BCCI threw a party…

Just how incompetent do you have to be to organise a World-level match in one stadium and sell tickets at another stadium at the other end of town?

The current stadium, which was inaugurated in 2008 and has a capacity of 45,000, lies 20km outside the city centre, a journey time of approximately 40 minutes by auto-rickshaw. However, the main ticketing system remains still situated at the old venue. A VCA official said it was not possible to have ticketing at both grounds.

The BCCI, who declined to comment, are in overall charge of the ticketing policy for the tournament, but the arrangements for each match are at the discretion of the individual state associations. Dharmasala, the other venue that has so far hosted matches, has chosen to sell tickets for the qualifying rounds at the gate.

The VCA spokesman added that advertisements for the ticketing policy had been placed in local papers but was unable to explain why the information had not been passed on to the BCCI or ICC, so they could warn fans who were travelling in from other grounds.


The great escape that isn’t

Oh for heaven’s sake, can we stop pretending that Vijay Mallya skipped the country one step ahead of the police? The CBI charge-sheet against him was filed in the last week of July 2015.

Do as I say, not as I do

Dismissing the Congress president’s accusation that the NDA government was showing “obstinate arrogance” in Parliament and that it was a government by “one person”, Modi said, “Perhaps, she is referring to the fact that earlier extra-constitutional authorities were the ones really wielding power.”

He went on to say that power was now “wielded only by constitutional means”. If the charge is that “we are working through constitutional channels and not listening to any extra constitutional authorities, then I plead guilty to that charge”, he said.

Asked about the criticism that all powers were concentrated in the PMO, Modi responded, “Your question is loaded. It would have been better if this question had been asked when an unconstitutional authority was sitting above the constitutional authority and exercising power over the PMO.”

He emphasised that “the Prime Minister and the PMO are very much part of the constitutional scheme, not outside it”.

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Give it up for this lady

“I want to thank Sushma Swaraj ji. She is doing an exceptionally good job to save our people abroad,” Aam Aadmi Party’s Bhagwant Maan said in the Lok Sabha during question hour.

“Recently, 13 people of my constituency were made slaves in Saudi Arabia. I went to meet external affairs ministry officials who acted immediately. As a result, all these people and eight others were saved and finally returned safely,” Mr Maan said.

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Non-violent mayhem

I like Raj Thackeray. Unlike the garden variety rabble-rousers who call for tongues to be cut off and heads to be chopped off and rape women because they think they should get reservations, the guy has a gentle, caring heart. Vide this exhortation to his followers:

Now I will tell you what you should do. When you see any new rickshaws with new number plates, stop them, take the passenger and driver out of the vehicle and burn the rickshaws,” he said.

In his concern for the lives of his fellow men, the MNS chief is an example to us all.

In passing — how the hell is it that in a country where sloganeering invites the full might of law and government, politicians of every stripe routinely call for violence without even the raising of an official eyebrow?