Memories of a Muffler

Mithun and Muffler

Mithun Da epitomised muffler in Indian Films

Muffler, possibly the only thing apart from intellectualism (Antlaami) and Borolene that had brightened up every Bengali for decades. I failed to realize how this small little thing had always protected millions of Bengalis from the universal threat  – cold (‘’Thaandaa’’).

Monkey Cap or Muffler?
There is a group of people who could rate monkey cap higher than mufflers when it comes to protection against cold. To me, muffler is surely the winner. It is easily available and easy to handle. More than anything, who could ever forget the Mithunda wearing a red muffler smashing all the villains? Muffler surely is a fashion statement. Later on, I got more convinced when I see a scarf on almost everyone’s neck in Europe.

First realization
Around 20 years back, I realized the importance of a muffler for the first time. It was the end of March 2001,  when my friend Fasiur visited me in Mumbai. Those were the days of ‘’look UP and talk LESS’’. Long-distance calls were too costly those days. For mortal people like us, every second means additional money. So we used to look up at the meter and talk as less as possible. A long-distance call was to share information that could save an entire human race like ‘’How are you?’’, ‘’How is the temperature’’ and the most important thing –  ‘’are you getting Fish and rice? (Maach Bhaat paccho to baba?)’’

But Fasiur’s father called him and didn’t ask any of those essential questions. He only inquired whether he carried the muffler along with him. Fasiur proudly replied ‘yes’ and quite unknowingly put his hands over his proud possession, a red and green muffler in that hot and humid Mumbai summer.

The muffler that saved
In that tour, we witnessed his obsession with that muffler for the next 7 days especially when we visited Goa. Fasiur and his muffler were inseparable in extreme conditions and situations. He took ample precautions to prevent any possible separation though. I remember when we all went for a swim at the Baga Beach; he preferred to take a nice nap on the sun wearing his maroon shorts and the muffler. The miracle of an unimaginable separation with his muffler happened only once when he went to Nainital for his honeymoon and came back with a pregnant wife. Anyway, I do not want to get into any side effects theory of ’’ missing the muffler’’ or “the other use of muffler”. What I meant is definitely muffler is an important part of being human in Bengal.

Muffler around the world!
A few days back I was standing at the check-in counter in Singapore’s Changi Airport terminal. I heard a frantic but familiar scream ‘’Bhombol, muffler taa galaay de… Thandaa lege jaabe’’ (Wear your muffler Bhombol else you will catch a cold). Ah! I know the deep-rooted concern and feeling behind this scream. So I looked behind and found an elderly lady screaming and denying the freedom of a 45+ adventurous Bhombol.  The man had declined the year-old tradition to wear the protector of all seasons at the comfortably warm Singapore airport. I can’t stop feeling bad for Bhombol and felt like going ahead and console Bhombol by sighting example of the legendary Mithun Chakraborty who killed thousands of dangerous men on earth wearing those colourful mufflers and made it an eternal style statement across India.

For those who are not Bongs, please let me clarify that Muffler is a heavy scarf (mostly woollen) worn around the neck for warmth and please do not get confused with the car muffler, which is a device that absorbs noise, especially one used with an internal-combustion engine. I will surely write a more detailed and exhaustive study over this all-important life-saving attire and update later.

Summary

Muffler has been there in a Bengali household as the quintessential protector of cold. The others are a monkey cap and a tube of Borolene. Time has changed so the style statement. However, the importance of muffler has never changed.

— Sunando
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