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.
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.
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,
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,
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,
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.
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.
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”.
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,
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.
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,
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,
Usually the New Year compels resolutions. But 2021 might spark an urge to dismiss such rituals. And to break free from the persistent thrum of uncertainty that reverberates across banal decisions – Eat out today? Get a haircut? Invite guests? Even as vaccines are trundled across and between nations, it might be worthwhile to greet the New Year with the normalcy of any other year – when some of us still made hazy promises to the self,
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.
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,
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.
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,
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,