Monday, 30th October 2017

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A reminder of the pleasures of sleep

Some of the brightest moments in the history of human invention have been attributed to restful moments

  • Published 28.09.19, 1:54 AM
  • Updated 28.09.19, 1:54 AM
  • 2 mins read
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In these hurried times, when the markers of progress and civilization seem to be moored to the ideas of speed, pace, haste, Bengal and its people have taken it upon themselves to remind one and all about the delirious pleasures that can be found in stillness (Shutterstock)

The hug is in vogue all over the world. The Indian prime minister reminds his countrymen of its virtues periodically, entreating citizens to embrace people broken by fate or by his government. Dignitaries — politicians or celebrities — are all for hugging those they love and loathe, especially when they spy a flashbulb around. It can, however, be argued that Bengalis would be eager to keep a distance from this global crowd of men and women on the prowl to gather another person in their arms. This is not to suggest that a chill runs down the Bengali spine at the thought of embracing, or being embraced by, someone else. It is just that deep within the recesses of the Bengali mind, the ideal recipient of an embrace is seldom a human being. For what Bengalis crave most in their arms, even more than furtive lovers, furry pets or family members, is their beloved kolbalish, a special type of bolster that has a special place in the Bengali heart. The rest of India, of course, has not been able to wrap its head — or arms — around this quintessentially Bengali line of thinking.

The West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation has now been reminded that nothing can come between the Bengali and the bolster in a rather telling way. With the onset of the festive season, WBTDC has decided to order 600 bolsters that would occupy pride of place in state-run hotels and tourist lodges after a survey revealed the secret crush among Bengali travellers on the kolbalish. Love, they say, defies reason. But the argumentative Bengali would beg to differ on this as well. The passion for the pashbalish is based on cold, irrefutable logic. For the night, many an artist has shown, can bring in its wake all kinds of demons. The most fearsome among these, the supine Bengali would concur, is the prospect of daybreak and labour, the daily grind of waking and working for the sake of living. Even a snoring partner, woman or man, is not loud enough to drown out the chatter of these mischievous djinns. In this solitary, unguarded hour, what can keep this cold horror at bay, Bengalis would agree, for once choosing to forget their differences over fish and football, is the warm embrace of the pillow.

There is a lesson for industrious India and the world in the Bengali snuggled around the balish. In these hurried times, when the markers of progress and civilization seem to be moored to the ideas of speed, pace, haste, Bengal and its people have taken it upon themselves to remind one and all about the delirious pleasures that can be found in stillness and sleep, with the portly pillow thrown in for good measure.

Some of the brightest moments in the history of human invention have been attributed to restful moments. The principle of buoyancy, for example, would have remained unknown had Archimedes not decided to contemplate in his bath. A balish instead of soap and mug, Bengalis are certain, would have made the picture quite perfect.

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