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Window Seat: Frenemy

14/03/2021 at 7:07 AM

India is no stranger to the frenemies. Our mythology and history are replete with them. There is a tale of a Mirzafar or Jaichandra at every part of the country. Elections, however, is the time that sees more number of frenemies than any time else. Every election witnesses hoards of political persons changing their party allegiance and the leaders grappling with frenemies. Anybody familiar with vote politics in India is no stranger to the ‘Ayaram- Gayaram’ syndrome as elections come closer. Increasing number of frenemies could be spotted as the players in the political field increases.
Cambridge dictionary describes frenemy, a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy” as a person who pretends to be your friend but is in fact an enemy. Oxford English Dictionary explains the word as “A person with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry; a person who combines the characteristics of a friend and an enemy.” The term is used to describe personal, geopolitical and commercial relationships both among individuals and groups or institutions.

The word “Frenemy” has appeared in print as early as 1953 in an article titled “Howz [sic] about calling the Russians our Frienemies?” by the American gossip columnist Walter Winchell in the Nevada State Journal. From the mid-1990s its usage has increased.
Probably frenemies have increased in real life too.

Sign and Symbol

Though both the sign and the symbol stand for something else, they are not synonymous. The main difference between the two is that a sign is a form of language that directly communicates with the targeted audiences. In contrast, a symbol is a conventional representation of an object, function, concept or process. For example a cloudy sky with thunder and lightning is a sign of impending rain but could be a symbol of ominous things to happen.
If the toxic and vitriolic language used in election campaign in West Bengal, known for its polished language and melodious music is a sign, then slogans like ‘khela hobe’ and ‘jai shree ram (as a war cry)’ and songs like ‘tumpa..’ are the symbols of the time we are living in.

Symbols convey deeper meaning. Historically it has been used to communicate intended message and arouse intended feeling among the people. It also frames the time we live in and underlines the civilizational shift.
The present symbols show that the much lauded ‘Bengali bhadralok’ culture is gasping for breath in the toxic atmosphere of the no holds barred election campaign.


Summer is particularly scorching in parts of India including Dhenkanal where I live. Summer season (grishma) arrives as spring season (basanta) ends. Indians, who follow the solar calendar, celebrate new-year on the first day of Baisakha, as the first day of summer season begins- in mid-April. Different parts of India have different festivals to mark the occasion: Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh, Rongali Bihu in Assam, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Vishu in Kerala, Pana Sankranti or Bishuba Sankranti in Odisha and Poila Boishakh in Bengal.

This year, somehow spring has decided to skip Dhenkanal and summer has arrived fairly early. The temperature has already shot past 40 degree Celsius. Every summer we experience forest fire- sometime after April. It continues sporadically till rain arrives in mid-June. But this year forest fire has started in different parts of Odisha from early March. In fact it has hogged the headlines for weeks. So has the news of shortage of potable water.
We are braving ourselves for a long hot and dry spell.

Cities of India

Here is how my friend serial edu- entrepreneur, presently pro-VC of Kolkata based Adams University, Ujjwal Choudhury describes different cities of India:
Delhi is a Novel.
Bengaluru is a blog.
Mumbai is a script.
Ahmedabad is a plan.
Kolkata is a poem.
Pune is a romance.

India is a song and dance.
Tailpiece: Shakespearewala

Who were the bride and the bridegroom?
“Romeo and Juliet”
When did he propose?
“Twelfth Night”
What did he say?
“As you like it”
From where was the ring obtained?”
“The Merchant of Venice”
Who were the chief guests?
“Antony and Cleopatra” &
“Troilus and Cressida”
Who were the bridegroom’s friends?
“The Two Gentlemen of Verona”
Who prepared the wedding breakfast?
“The Merry Wives of Windsor”
What was the honeymoon like?
“A Mid Summer Night’s Dream”
How would you describe their quarrel?
“The Tempest”
What was their married life like?
“Comedy of Errors”
What was the bridegroom’s chief occupation?
“The Taming of the Shrew”
What did she give him?
“Measure for Measure”
What did their friends say?
“All’s Well that Ends Well”
Moral of this story?
(Courtesy: Social Media)

About the Author:

Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. Odia translation of an anthology of essays titled Mahatma Gandhi: Journalist and Editor, originally published in English is releasing by mid-January 2021.


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com

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