Knot now?He is 42, and an orthodox Vadama Brahmin from Kumbakonam. Rama. Ramanathan came to centre stage in 1991, when he won the Assembly election from the 'Mahamaham' town. He was only 27 and wasn't thinking in terms of marriage then. He lost in 1996 and vowed to marry only after winning in Kumabakonam again. He lost in 2001 and is trying again from the same seat; he's up against DMK strongman and former Minister Ko. Si. Mani. Will Lady Luck smile on him and enable him to tie the knot at least now?

Little colour, no furyThe beat of traditional drums, or 'dhak' as they are called in these parts, is a sound that gladdens the Bengali heart. The drums are intimately associated with Durga Puja, the most important festival in the Bengali calendar. So residents of a city locality were taken aback when they woke one morning to the beat of the dhak and notes of the shehnai. A peep through the curtains established it was a candidate trying to get the attention of the voters, while avoiding that of the Election Commission. Innovation is the name of the game. Thanks to the Election Commission, this election is proving to be like no other. There's little colour (no graffiti, no festoons), and little fury (no blaring mikes, few processions). With just a week to go before Kolkata votes, many do not even know who the contestants are. An otherwise well-informed housewife in the upmarket Chowringhee constituency where a former city Mayor is in the fray, quizzed her husband on the other contenders. She drew a blank.

The Mithun factorActor Mithun Chakraborty is giving those in the fray in West Bengal. Especially when they are desperately trying to find a way to reach out to their voters. Posters screaming 'Vote for MLA Phatakesto' are plastered all over the walls in the city as well as the districts, with a picture of a smug-but-evil looking Mithun sitting on a throne. These are promos of a Bengali movie that was released last week, but it managed to confuse the voters. Candidates are smarting at the posters, even as the actor is reported to have been flooded with calls to find out whether he had taken the plunge.

The frog march

For the villagers of Thariyode and Padinjarethara, around the Kuttiyadi dam project in the Kalpetta Assembly segment, the rains last month brought little cheer. With their natural habitations, in the low-lying areas of the forest, submerged by the dam, the frogs came out in droves. It became practically impossible for the villagers to move because of the carpet of live, leaping frogs. The panchayat authorities stepped in and spread bleaching powder to kill the frogs. During the siege, villagers found frogs in their wells and even cooking vessels. Several wells now need to be cleaned. All this has just added to the woes of the villagers.

They refuse to buy the argument that a vote against the present dispensation will change their fortunes. The logical result: a boycott of the polls.