A Daughter Portrays the Iconic Gulzar’s Legendary Journey Inside Indian Cinema

Monday, June 14, 2021

An Indulgent and Mindful Parent

There would be few Indians, whether they have grown up in India or as part of the globally-dispersed diaspora, who would not have certain lines of his running inside their heads, triggering memories and moods and a mélange of sweet-sour emotions. Even now, as I write this, Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi Shikhwa Tho Nahi plays in the background. Aandhi, starring Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen,

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Vivek Shanbhag Spins a Riveting Bengaluru Story in Ghachar Ghochar

Monday, June 7, 2021

Ghachar Ghochar begins in a space that evokes an older city; a Bangalore, that was not yet tugged into the frenetic material spiraling engendered by the IT and outsourcing businesses. But the city outside has already morphed. And so, has Coffee House, the “high-ceilinged” café, bar and restaurant that bears witness to the shifts. Like Vincent, its all-knowing, watchful waiter who dishes out pithy advice or directs empathizing glances at the regulars, it abides with the unexpected just as it does with the humdrum.

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When the Director of a Think Tank Starts a Bike Repair Shop: Matthew Crawford’s Startling Career Move

Friday, May 28, 2021

From Intellectual to Manual Work

Matthew Crawford was unafraid to chart a path that would seem “absurd” to the status-climbing, educated class. After garnering a Bachelor’s degree in Physics, and later on, a Doctorate in Political Philosophy from the academically-rigorous University of Chicago, he quit his job as the Director of a Think Tank at Washington D.C. to start a bike repair shop.

While such a career move would be greeted with shock and perplexity in most cultures,

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When a French Scientist, with a Doctorate in Molecular Biology, Adopts a Monk’s Path

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Matthieu Ricard has always fascinated me for embodying the kind of contradictions that we writers strive to imbue our characters with. So who is Ricard? To begin with, a brilliant student who abandoned a promising scientific career after garnering a doctorate in molecular biology in 1972, under the aegis of the Nobel-prize winning Francois Jacob. A Frenchman who fled the razzle-dazzle of Paris to settle in spartan environs at Darjeeling in India, and later at Bhutan and Nepal.

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Samhita Arni Spins a Gripping Tale About the Narrator of the Silappadikaram

Thursday, May 13, 2021

As children growing up in Bangalore between the late sixties and mid-eighties, we encountered the Mahabharata and Ramayana in various forms. In tales narrated by parents and aunts, in Amar Chitra Katha comics, in the more intricate versions penned by C. Rajagopalchari, in school textbooks and plays. Then, in the Doordarshan dramas that burst into our Sunday mornings in a blaze of sound and giddying colour. Surprisingly, for being a Tamilian household,

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Flaunting my Silvers: Exploring the Landscape of Aging

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

In Through The Children’s Gate, Adam Gopnik’s vivid essays about his time in New York, as a parent, he notes that it is impossible to map a city like New York. After all, the place is constantly morphing. Mapmakers can hardly keep pace, because even as they capture the streets and buildings and empty lots on any particular day, something has shifted in the meanwhile. Maps of such dense, constantly changing cities are projects that are forever in the making,

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Laura Vanderkam, Author and Productivity Expert, Offers Strategies To Optimize Working-From-Home

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Laura Vanderkam studies the one resource that is most precious, most scarce, and rarely granted the attention it deserves, until is one is confronted by a large-scale crisis like the pandemic or by a terminal diagnosis: time.

Cultivating a rare expertise in personal productivity and time management, in previous books, like “I Know How She Does It,” she studied 1001 Days – the time-logs of women who juggle family, high-powered careers and personal passions,

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Sujata Keshavan, Founder and Creative Director, Varana and Founder, Ray+Keshavan, Chronicles her Incredible Journey

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

From The Craftsman: Sennett Expands The Notion of Craftsmanship

Pandora, the Goddess of Invention, was, according to the Greeks, not merely the giver of gifts. Opening Pandora’s jar or box was often considered a jeopardous act, one that could unleash not just creation, but also destruction. Curiosity and its fruits, in such legends, were treated as a danger. After all, Adam sinned when he bit into the apple of knowledge,

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Tom Hanks Evokes the Extraordinariness of American Every Days in Uncommon Type

Monday, April 12, 2021

Just when we thought that the all-rounder, Renaissance-types were no longer faddish, Tom Hanks, who hardly needs an introduction as an actor, director and producer, has cranked out an astonishing collection of short stories. And I use “cranked out” because I deliberately want to evoke the clackety-clacks, the whirs and bings of those old-fashioned machines that once used to occupy offices before noiseless computers slid into their place. And this too, is an aspect of Hanks that is little known to the general public: he has a fetish for typewriters.

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Arvind Saraf Leverages a Growth Mindset to Embark on Creative Voyages

Monday, April 5, 2021

Arvind Saraf: Journeys from Surat to IIT, Kanpur

The probability of meeting someone like Arvind Saraf is staggeringly low. To give you an idea of how rarefied such encounters are, let me linger momentarily on the statistics. Those who are familiar with the preposterously challenging academic filters that sieve the admitted from the Asian chaff – the gaokao in China, the suneung or CSAT in Korea, and the IIT-JEE in India – can guess what I am alluding to.

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Lessons from Books: An Inspiring Memoir and Guide to Surviving Suicide Loss

Monday, March 29, 2021

Nandini Murali: Numbed By Her Partner’s Sudden Passing

Nandini Murali needed to travel on work, for two days, from Madurai to Chennai. When she bid her doctor husband farewell, he waved her off with a customary list of to-dos, like some snacks and pickles to be brought back. Surprisingly, he also gifted her a gold nugget and asked her to exchange it for some jewelry. She was delighted.

When she returned to her home in Madurai,

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Lessons from Books: What Our Ongoing Obsession with Celebrities Tells Us about Ourselves

Saturday, March 13, 2021

After their recent interview with Oprah, Harry and Meghan Markle have created an expected and almost predictable flutter in the global media. The more fascinating question is why squabbles among the Royals should still occupy so much collective bandwidth, given the overweening issues we are currently dealing with.

In Celebrity Culture, Ellis Cashmore, who is currently a sociology professor at Aston (UK), wrestles with our contemporary obsession with “the private lives of the rich and famous.” One on the one hand,

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Lessons from Books: Boom Country? Charts The Stories Powering Indian Startups

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Alan Rosling Becomes a Founder Before Embarking on His Book

In the White Mughals, the writer William Dalrymple depicts the rather tempestuous love affair between a British dignitary and a Mughal noblewoman. Even after the nation’s independence, many Britishers have been tugged by a mysterious allure in India, even if the fascination does not lie in a romantic persona. In contemporary times, Alan Rosling, author of Boom Country?, has been as fiercely captivated by the broader social and cultural complexities that stitch up this heaving region,

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Lessons from Books: Walking with a Philosopher’s Outlook

Monday, February 22, 2021

During the pandemic, many of us have been compelled to alter our exercise routines. Earlier, I used to swim and walk. In the last few months, I’ve been forced, like many others, to just walk. And occasionally, when I walk alone, I’ve been wondering about what walking does to us. In his book, A Philosophy of Walking, the author Frederic Gros, a Philosophy Professor at the University of Paris XII, emphasizes that one of the charms of walking is that it is not a “sport”.

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Lessons from Podcasts: Generating Hype Like (or Through) Rockstars

Saturday, February 13, 2021

One of the offshoots of months of relative confinement has been the discovery, for me at least, of new forms of entertainment. Besides Web Series, it has been diverting to stumble on riveting podcasts, especially those that imbue the audio tales with a gritty, documentary feel. Wind of Change, created by the New Yorker writer Patrick Radden Keefe is one of those gratifying listen-ins that starts with a tantalizing premise. The question that trigger’s Keefe’s quest across continents to engage with spies,

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Lessons from the Self: Flaunting my Silvers – Part 1

Friday, February 5, 2021

I’m 53. Strange that such a straightforward fact, the only data point perhaps, over which I can claim to have some certainty, should feel, in the contemporary era like a guilt-ridden admission. As if one ought to be defensive for having inhabited the planet for five whole decades, bearing witness not only to the tidal shifts and miniscule flutters in our surroundings, but also in the self. As a writer, I am naturally inclined and perhaps even obligated to stay introspective and curious.

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Lessons from a Memoir: Sam Miller Explores Fatherhood, Friendship and Love

Thursday, January 28, 2021

While motherhood has often been the subject of social, psychological and cultural studies, fatherhood has received relatively scanter attention. Such diminution of the paternal role affects not only fathers, but also mothers, who are then assumed to be primary caregivers or at least expected to play a more central parenting function.

In Fatherneed: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child, the Yale child psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Pruett,

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Lessons from Books: The Ten Dimensions of Highly Creative Personas

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Driven largely by the success of Apple and also by its founder’s layered persona, “design thinking”, has spawned many corporate workshops, process changes and adopters. After all, if Steve Jobs, who was as obsessed with the appearance of things, as with their functions, could foster such a technology behemoth, then surely the methods used by designers could usher new products, experiences or even ways of being? Humans, however, have always been fascinated by creators well before “design thinking” infiltrated our buzzy online chatter. 

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Lessons from Books: A Fascinating Study on How Men’s Bodies are Transforming inside A New India

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Often it takes an outsider’s captivation to shine a distinct light on a phenomenon that is unfolding around us in a seemingly slow and hence almost unnoticeable manner. Michiel Baas, an urban anthropologist who is currently engaged with the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, has written a richly-nuanced account of the manner in which male bodies are being reshaped in middle-class India. Though trained as an academic, he has consciously made his narrative non-fiction work,

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Lessons from Books: The Devotion of Suspect X Reveals Aspects of Japan

Monday, December 28, 2020

I’ve been particularly fascinated by Japanese crime fiction. Partly, this has to do with the setting. After all, Japan always seems to embody certain particularities – the crafted precision of its Haiku poems and ikebana arrangements, the grittiness of its neon-drenched cities, the slick ruthlessness of its gangsters or Yakuza. Then its seeming insularity from the world that’s contradicted by its embrace of American brands. As Douglas McGray puts it in his brilliant feature on “Japan’s Gross National Cool,” Japanese culture – its anime characters,

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