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By Dilip Bobb

With the festival and marriage season in full swing, swingers and the chilled out crowd are looking for items and accessories that are considered cool, or with it. There was a time when the latest iPhone, an outfit by Sabyasachi or Manish Malhotra and a Nehru jacket were much in demand, but times have changed, and it’s time to toss out the old and bring in the new. Here, in no particular order, are the current hot sellers.

Fax Machines: Everyone and his uncle thought that this piece of technology had been made obsolete by emerging technology and confined to museums or. Not so. They are still in use in governors’ mansions, and not as decorative items either. The great thing about a fax machine, as we discovered last week, is that it can switch off and on at the user’s convenience without leaving an electronic trail like other communication devices. The one in the Jammu & Kashmir Governor’s house also comes fitted with an antenna—a finely tuned political one which discards the inconvenient ones with an “Out of Order” response and suddenly springs to life for outgoing faxes. Expect a huge rush of orders on Amazon from the political community.

Gutka Packets: There is no understanding why this tobacco infused product continues to be hugely popular in India despite the health hazards and environmental and sanitary impact. One reason could be that its popularity as an everyday item of consumption allows it to bypass normal security checks. If the original contents are substituted with chilli powder, it becomes even more hazardous to the health—of politicians. Like Arvind Kejriwal who faced the sorry spectacle of having it thrown at him by a disgruntled constituent. It is now a hot button issue, having being stirred in the conspiracy cauldron.

Statues: It was all the rage in our schooldays when a game called statue brought everything to a halt. It is again, all the rage this season, with grown-ups, as competitive politics leads to demands of more and more statues, from Patel, to Shivaji in Mumbai, Ram in Ayodhya, and now even Goddess Cauvery in Karnataka. The higher the statue, the more credible the bragging rights, so in Andhra, chief minister Naidu, wants the new assembly building to be higher than the statue of Patel. It seems like the height of inanity, considering the millions of rupees of tax payers’ money to build these vanity objects that could be utilised to drag millions of poor out of the depths of poverty, but try telling that to the builders of modern India!

Irumudi: The access card to nirvana may look like an untidy bundle carried on the head like the holdalls that porters carried on railway platforms some decades ago, but without this article of faith, an audience with Lord Ayyappan at Sabarimala, currently the hottest pilgrimage in town, is impossible. For the uninitiated, Iru means two, and mudi means pouch, so it is a bundle with two compartments, one, a travel kit for personal items, and the other, containing offerings to the gods, including coconuts which must be hollow to symbolise that the devotee is emptied of all sensual pleasures. In the present context, with the heavy police presence and a fierce battle between political parties as well as women activists and temple authorities, the Irumudi has started to resemble a combat helmet instead of a religious halo.

AQI apps: Along with pollution masks, a must-have item this winter when the air quality index starts to resemble the figures on the doomsday clock. Naturally, or not, having an AQI app on your smartphone signals that you are, well, smart. So popular has it become that when people call up and ask “How’s the weather,” you respond with numbers. At social gatherings, comparing AQI apps has become the new conversational icebreaker, apart from singling you out as environmentally conscious, till the smog and dust and particulate matter renders you unconscious.

Modi Jacket: Another herringbone of contention after the leader of South Korea posted photos thanking his Indian counterpart for the gift of “Modi jackets” and how popular they were. The truth is that every schoolkid knows (or maybe not anymore) that it was first worn by Jawaharlal Nehru and called the Nehru jacket. The difference is that Nehru stuck to pastel shades with a rose in the buttonhole while Modi’s version comes in all colours of the rainbow and then some, and sports a plastic lotus. As the bard once said, a rose by any other name…

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