When driving out of Mumbai’s international airport, many upper-income Indians and foreign visitors may prefer to avert their gaze and look elsewhere. Anywhere else but at the sight that greets them at the Annawadi slum, where thousands are packed with a staggering density into a few hundred ramshackle huts.
But Katherine Boo was the kind of visitor who was unwilling to look away. Of course, as the wife of the Indian historian, Sunil Khilnani,
Those who are exhausted by the grim graphs that chart the pandemic’s climb (or retreat), might do well to re-engage with P.G Wodehouse. To watch, with quiet chuckles and the occasional, loud cackle, as Bertie Wooster devises another harebrained scheme to extricate himself from a betrothal to the wrong woman or a distasteful prize-giving ceremony foisted on him by a wrathful aunt. And moreover, ignores the sage advice proffered by his all-knowing valet,
It doesn’t take much to inhabit privilege in India. If, as a family, you own a house, a car, and your kids attend a somewhat decent private school, you are already materially distanced from the vast majority who throng our towns and cities. But people who belong to this exclusive set, even on relative terms, are usually aware that prosperity ushers different anxieties. One of the most common parental concerns echoed in such circles centers around the motivation of children.
The Library Book: Susan Orlean Recalls an Idyllic Time inside Libraries
Harry Peak was often characterized by his “very blond” hair. Growing up in Santa Fe, not too far from the giddying dazzle of Hollywood, the kid had a flair for theatrics and drama. But his skills often slid into playing the kind of pranks or telling the kind of lies that would garner attention. Later on, as an adult, he told his family that he had landed acting parts in movies,
Like most readers, I feel like only a part of me lives in the real world. An equal or sometimes larger, almost disembodied self dwells inside pages – some pored over in years past, some recently encountered, some vividly recalled, many others awkwardly forgotten or misremembered. Since then the self has morphed. I thought that it might be fascinating to bump into some of the earlier voices, some calling out from the intimacy of my home library,
On a recent morning walk with a friend, we were talking about how society obsesses with “success” and the necessary “competitiveness” one should cultivate to achieve it. On the other hand, “compassion,” a quality that, as studies show, contributes more to inner wellbeing than any external status marker, is rarely targeted. On Gandhi’s birthday, perhaps we should turn our lens towards an attribute that the leader tried to consciously expand inside himself and in his followers.
For a particular writing project, I needed to understand how small towns in India were getting transformed by the forces of late modernity and conspicuous materialism. While Bollywood was both plying and shattering conventional notions in movies like Bareilly ki Barfi and Masaan, I was looking for an updated version of Butter Chicken in Ludhiana, Pankaj Mishra’s snapshots of his meanderings across small towns in the mid-90s,
Jyotsna (Jo) Pattabhiraman: Develops Resilience to Sudden Changes
The mythical “Fountain of Youth” has often served as the object of quest stories. After all, can any treasure chest be more appealing to mortal beings than everlasting youth and the longest-possible, healthful life? More so perhaps, during our locked in lives, when ambulance sirens are simultaneously savage and banal.
Jyotsna Pattabiraman was to realize the fragility of life plans, and our dependency on vulnerable bodies well before the pandemic had hurtled into our work-life spaces.
The Way Home: Mark Boyle Chooses to Live Without Technology
To relinquish technology in 1845, when Thoreau set out to live in Walden, doesn’t seem nearly as impossible as the feat accomplished by Mark Boyle, who adopted a similar retreat in 2016. At a time when those of us who are digital natives live in techno-saturated environs, Boyle, a Business graduate of Irish origins, resolved to live without electricity, “a phone, computer, light bulbs,
Alok Sinha was only 30 years old, when he was part of a Tata Motors team that presented a business plan to Ratan Tata, the then Chairman. Tata’s critique spotlighted two key metrices: market share and net profitability. For most young executives, in their early 30s, such an instance might have dissolved into a hazy episodic memory, evoking traces only of the elation of such a rare encounter.
Gandhi Encounters Raychandbhai During an Emotionally Fraught Period
The contemporary obsession with self-improvement traces back to ancient antecedents, as far back for instance, as an Egyptian genre called the ‘Sebayt’ or ‘teaching’ published around 2800 B.C. Correlating current trends with historic parallels, like in the character formation of Mohandas Gandhi drawn from the historian Ramachandra Guha’s illuminating volumes on the leader’s life, we might be both comforted and surprised that Gandhi himself, especially in the early years,
In early Feb 2020, who could have imagined a café conversation between Anshuman and me would soon acquire the otherworldly glow of an irretrievable past? At the hip Terra Bites in Koramangala, a drum near the window displayed a message scrawled with a black marker: “We Are Open.” Even in the fourth phase of the nation’s lockdown, that sign feels as tantalizingly invisible and wickedly beckoning as Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station (from which Harry Potter and his wizard friends depart to Hogwarts).
Few people, if any, can predict the exact contours of the world when we
emerge from the ravages of the Corona virus. But the sudden ceasing of sights
and sounds we were accustomed to – the hubbub at a café, the squeals of
swerving buses – have reinforced the underlying fragility of everything. It’s
heartening then, at such a time, to absorb lessons from Pema Chodron,
Somak Ghoshal: Discovering the Riches of English Literature As a Young Adult
The Mint Lounge has always been a favourite weekend read. Especially the book reviews that dissect the profusion of works spawned by Indian authors. While the Lounge, overall, is peopled by a particularly gifted set of writers, I’m expressly captivated by the pieces penned by Somak Ghoshal. He not only evokes a book’s texture and theme within a tight space,
Aditya Sondhi: Fosters A Living Room Theatre Group
On a Saturday night in January, the wind has a biting snap to it. About twenty people, some with stoles wrapped around their necks, others sweater clad, file into the yellow glow of a living room. There are signs of a party: the clinks of beer-filled bottles, the splash of wine in glasses, water smushed into paper cups. But few other sounds. The conversations are hushed,
David Brooks: Embarking on a Personal Quest After a Divorce
In The Second Mountain, David Brooks, acknowledges with a beguiling honesty, that at the age of 52, he felt suddenly unmoored. His three-decade long marriage had ended, and he was “lonely, humiliated, scattered.” For someone who possessed all other markers of social success – his job and reputation as a New York Times columnist, wealth, kids,
In the historian Ramachandra Guha’s extraordinarily-researched, brilliant chronicle of Gandhi’s life, one gets a fascinating glimpse of his life inside prisons. After all, the nation’s leader often courted arrest for willfully defying unjust laws. For a man who was renowned for being frenetically active, and constantly surrounded by friends, colleagues and followers, one wonders how he spent his time in confinement, which lasted for weeks, months or even years.
After each arrest, Gandhi was prepared to martyr every aspect of himself
Gitanjali Maini: Foraying from HR to the
Situated inside the heart of Bengaluru, gallery g (www.galleryg.com) seems to freeze time and halt the city’s perpetual busyness. Designed with an elegant sparseness – shafts of light on wooden floors, the arresting views of a vertical garden, a lobby area that sports prints of the legendary Raja Ravi Varma – the space embodies a reprieve from the trafficky tumult. When you step inside,
David Whyte, a poet who engages with
American corporations to inspire creativity, once had a transformational
encounter with a stranger. Whyte was in his early twenties, and had recently
graduated from college with a degree in Marine Biology. Struggling to land a
job, he was despondent about his future. Around then, he had checked into a friend’s
farmhouse, in North Wales. On a cold wintry evening,
I’ve lived in gated spaces for many years. Mostly inside apartment complexes, and more recently, inside a project with townhomes and villas. While none have been as elite or as exclusive as Fantasia, the fictional setting in No Trespassing has echoes of the places I’ve inhabited. It’s a very convenient life for people from the middle and upper-middle class – for one thing, you get a 24/7 supply of power and water, access to a host of amenities like a pool and a badminton court – and you also feel like you belong to a community,