Dhurries and Chairs...

February 2, 2011

KM has kindly given me his old tablet to use until I repair/replace my poor laptop…but my photographs are still on his laptop, so while I wait to transfer them here and post them, I am free to mull upon other things.

One of the other mulled-upon topics is the ubiquitousness of one single item of furniture, everywhere in India…the Plastic Chair (PC). What on earth, I wonder, did we do before this extremely useful, stackable chair was designed and produced in hundreds of millions? At every family get-togehter, at every apartment gathering; at every political rally, at every devotional meeting; wherever one goes,one can see hundreds of PC’s….set out in rows before the event, in raggedly chaotic disposition, after the event. They are stacked up high in wedding halls, and in auditoriums; they take care of sudden overflows in the audience, and act as aids in a multiplicity of ways…photographers stand on them, people set their belongings on the extra PC’s, children love to play with them. They are light and convenient and very cheap to hire (About Rs. 4 to 5 per chair is the going rate in Bangalore,currently.) They come in a variety of colours, and are made from both virgin and recycled plastic, and their one constant feature is the extraordinarily setting-teeth-on-edge noise that each one can make when dragged across the floor. The old metal/aluminium folding chairs, and the large dhurries that used to precede those, have, apparently, gone for ever….audiences and invitees no longer want to sit on the floor (this also raises the issue of the slow demise of the Indian-style toilets, but that demands a separate post)….knees are no longer flexible. Each chair comes with a sticker,too, announcing its brand in partially torn-away letters…Kamal, I find, is the most popular brand in Karnataka, and these chairs must have minted money for the person who hires them out.

The PC’s are often accompanied by rickety plastic tables,too,but most often, they are seen in flocks on their own….hundreds and hundreds of aids-to-audience comfort, that appear and disappear on the lawns and public and private gathering spaces of our country. Some come with arms, and some are armless….but they seem to be one silent yet solid presence in our every meeting, and we can no longer think of a group of people gathered together without the PC as a common denominator for their seating convenience.