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 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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Lessons from Books: Leveraging the Science of Habits to Drive Personal Changes

Friday, December 18, 2020

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,

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Lessons from Books: A Fascinating Dive into the Makeup of The Bengalis

Saturday, December 12, 2020

If one could choose the community to which one could belong, by birth, then I’d have chosen to be a Bengali. It’s not the language – which I don’t understand or speak – that fascinates me as much as a certain aura that surrounds the people, who stem from that marshy, deltaic region. What imbues them with such a mystique? No doubt, the Creative Greats from that area – starting with Rabindranath Tagore, who had with his poems,

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Lessons from Books: Turning Our Gaze from the Soaring Skylines to the Sordid Undercity

Sunday, November 29, 2020

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,

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Sridhar Balan, Author, Publishing Veteran and Literary Columnist, Charts A Bibliophile’s Journey

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

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,

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Dwelling in Books: The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Dwelling in Books

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,

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Snigdha Poonam: Charting a Dream Career from a Journalist to an Acclaimed Author

Friday, September 18, 2020

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,

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Leveraging Lessons From A Personal Health Crisis to Found a Startup: Jyotsna Pattabiraman Forges Lifestyle Solutions To Usher Personal Wellbeing

Thursday, August 27, 2020

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.

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Fusing Space-Time with Action: Alok Sinha, Author, Entrepreneur and Board Member, Forges a New Model

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Alok Sinha: Records Memorable Experiences

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.

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Choosing to Live in Magic: Somak Ghoshal Forges a Creative Life Path

Thursday, March 12, 2020

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,

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Living in Gated Spaces: My Impetus for Writing No Trespassing

Thursday, October 3, 2019

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,

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