The Telegraph
Sunday , January 12 , 2014
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Art of letter writing

Artist Avijit Dutta mourns the death of the art of letter writing in the exhibition Lost in Transition which is on at the Harrington Street Arts Centre till January 20. Dutta, who is a commerce graduate and was later trained at Rabindra Bharati University, decided to send a set of postcards and a letter box each to his wide network of artist friends practising all over India so that they could use both for their artwork. The response was overwhelming from the artists of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Baroda, Goa and Calcutta, as we can see from the exhibition itself. All of them have written letters — many in the vernacular — and painted the letter box. Prabhakar Kolte and Theodore M. Mesquita from Goa had taken the trouble to be present at the opening, although few of the local participants had bothered to turn up. Kolte sang Rabindrasangeet, much to the surprise of those present.

Jogen Chowdhury, Prabhakar Kolte, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Partha Dasgupta, Jayasri Burman, Paresh Maity, Jayashree Chakravarty, Partha Pratim Deb, Chhatrapati Datta, Laxma Goud, George Martin, Samir Roy, Anupam Sud, Veer Munshi, R.M. Palaniappan, Birendra Pani, Jagannath Panda, Manish Pushkale, Chandra Bhattacharya, Debnath Basu, Anandajit Ray, Vasundha Tiwari, Thota Tharrani, T. Vaikuntam, and Venugopal V.G. are some of the participants. Many like Veer Munshi, Anandajit Ray, Birendra Pani and Partha Pratim Deb have turned the letter box into an elaborate art. Avijit Dutta’s work is striking, the idea borrowed from a “buffering progress bar”.

The most outstanding is by Bapi Das, an autorickshaw driver, who has embroidered the postcard and turned the letter box into a vase with kadam flowers made of needles. The route on which he plies his auto is shown in a diagram. Does art provide a retreat from rash driving?

Rare coins

Ever seen what possibly are the first Indian coins? These are uninscribed punch-marked specimens used in the Gandhara janapada (comprising parts of present-day Punjab and Afghanistan). Some of the bar-shaped silver coins are slightly bent and date back to the sixth century BC. The bent bars and Indo-Greek coins from Binoy Kumar Kundu’s collection were among the rare coins on display at Mudra Utsav, an exhibition and sale of coins organised by the Numismatic Society of Calcutta at Haldiram Banquets.

“Another collection worth viewing is the complete set of British India coins, from 1835 to 1947, by Manju Modi who came from Bellary, Karnataka,” said Ravi Shankar Sharma, the secretary of the society. He himself exhibited Rs 150 coins on Swami Vivekananda. Riddhi Bhattacharjee’s collection of commemorative Euro coins were also worth a dekko.

The traders brought a host of products — ICC World Cup 2011 coins, Tagore and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman commemorative silver coins from Bangladesh, Olympic souvenir silver coins, guide books, magnifiers and albums.

But the longest queue was at the Reserve Bank of India counter where commemorative coins worth Rs 5 on Bhagat Singh, Swami Vivekananda, Mother Teresa and C. Subramaniam were on sale at face value. “We are also raising awareness on genuine currency notes,” said Subhas Chowdhury, nodal officer, coin distribution cell, RBI.

Blankets for kids

Underprivileged children were given blankets and cereals at an event organised by the MCCI Ladies Forum in association with CINI.

Shashi Panja, the minister of state for women and child welfare and chief guest on the occasion, stressed the need to stop early marriage to minimise malnutrition in newborns.

Divya Agarwal, the chairperson of the MCCI Ladies Forum, stressed the goal of the organisation was to promote women empowerment and child welfare in Bengal.

Samir Chaudhuri, the founder-director of CINI, proposed “a citywide campaign to collect non-perishable goods and cereals at least four times a year” and actress Koneenica Banerjee readily pledged support for the initiative.

Contributed by Soumitra Das, Sudeshna Banerjee and Showli Chakraborty