Sarangi | A monk and a Minister

The monk who never owned a Ferrari and defeated one who campaigned in Ferrari. The poorest Member of Parliament of India, Pratap Chandra Sarangi, who spent the least amount of money in his election campaign and went around campaigning on his cycle deserves the highest respect. Though he has now become minister, don’t be surprised if you catch him on a cycle, riding the streets of Delhi! I dedicate this post to him.

Durga Puja recommended for UNESCO heritage status

Kolkata’s Durga Puja is India’s official nomination for the 2020 edition of the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Durga Puja is not only a religious festival, it is the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengal. Though predominantly originated in the Hindu ritual and legends, the Durga Puja celebration cross cuts the communal divide in many of its attributes. It is an epitome of harmony across caste, class, creed and religion.

Om Ali | A dessert born in blood

Recently, I attended an Iftar party at a luxury hotel in Baghdad. After I finished the food, I found a nice, sweet dessert there, called Om Ali — a simple concoction: bread and pastry are combined with raisins, pistachios, coconut and almonds, then drenched in sweetened milk. It’s not the story of a royal chef preparing an innovative dish at the behest of a discerning king, but of a murder and a rather cruel one! 

Can memes revive political satires and cartoons?

Humour is the foundation of a cartoon and it is its limitation. Attempts to rationalise humour in terms of today’s utilitarian social structure probably explain why political cartooning, and the genre of cartooning as a whole is a dying art. In a fast-paced environment such as the internet, memes emerged as a one-dimensional satirical illustration; they don’t engage with the issue and, therefore, their moral message and practical impact are limited. 

Al-Mustansiriyya Madrasa | Baghdad’s oldest seat of learning

In 1227 CE, the thirty-seventh Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir Billah (reigned 1226-1242 CE) commissioned the construction of Al-Mustansiriyya madrasa in the capital city of Baghdad named in his honour. Construction lasted for six years and the school opened in 1234 CE. It was one of the oldest madrasas in the world. Al-Mustansiriyah Madrassa stands as a testament to Iraq’s resilience and endurance over the centuries and demonstrates that barbarism and terrorism of any kind, at any period, cannot prevail over culture and knowledge.