Do you have a prized personal belonging?

People are often attached to their personal belongings, objects they often perceive as extremely precious — a sheaf of letters, sunglasses, a diary, clothes. These are inanimate, but highly valued. I have often… Continue reading

The mathematics of a newspaper

[Excerpts from Kingshuk’s 2009 e-mail to a novice who wanted to understand the newspaper business — a handy primer for anyone interested in the inner workings of a newspaper.] Newspapers are essentially high-investment… Continue reading

God’s child

I had an uncle, an uncomplicated man we called Baro Kaku. He was a Mohammad Rafi fan. He admired Hemanta Mukherjee too. Because Hemanta was a Mukherjee, a Bengali and an outstanding singer,… Continue reading

Long live the VCR

When newspapers recently reported that the lone Japanese company manufacturing video cassette recorders (VCR) had finally stopped the assembly line, it surprised me. I didn’t know VCRs were alive. And, having known they… Continue reading

Death of the landline

My dad was a mining engineer and his work took him to remote hill areas inside deep forests. He worked in Orissa’s Keonjhar district and spent 25 years of his life there. Every… Continue reading

A fiesta with my ‘Fiesta’

As a child in a middle class Calcutta home, I had long bouts of silence and loneliness for company. The afternoons, especially, were quiet. The windows and doors would be bolted to keep… Continue reading

Bengal’s ever-evolving music magic

[The language of music is universal. The Bengali reader will, however, relate a little more than others to this post.] The Bengali music scene rocks. Some years ago, it took a big leap… Continue reading

Talk love & respect, not just tolerance

As a boy I grew up in a distant Orissa village that had an iron ore mine and a colony where people from all corners came to live and make a living. The… Continue reading

Why Netaji still makes headlines

The enigma of Netaji lives on, not because of his mysterious disappearance but because some six decades after he vanished he represents hope and embodies progressive thinking. He is one magical person who,… Continue reading

President of hearts

When I was at school in Calcutta, I had taken special interest in memorising Pele’s full name. Everyone in class talked of the soccer legend and his magical footwork, how he would make… Continue reading

Calcutta chronicles

[There’s just a lot of Calcutta in this blog piece, necessitating a glossary of common Bangla references (at the bottom) for the non-Calcuttan.] Calcutta, my Calcutta, will never change. She’ll never be any other… Continue reading

Lanka lore: Colombo Darshan

I haven’t stayed long enough in Colombo to talk about the city at length, haven’t really soaked in the atmosphere enough. But the few hours I spent going around town were electrifying. The… Continue reading

Kejriwals should succeed

It’s nice to see Arvind Kejriwal go for daily morning walks in Kaushambi with his wife. That’s where the Kejriwals live – the ordinary man with a bold dream for a brave new… Continue reading

Lanka lore: Highway tales

The Colombo-Jaffna highway is a joy to be on. It’s smooth, all concrete and runs along a picturesque country, well-off neighbourhoods, shops, super markets, banks, schools, bus stands and groceries. Beyond Anuradhapura, further… Continue reading

Lanka lore: Dateline Elephant Pass

It’s a windy January evening and I am at Elephant Pass — the causeway connecting the Sri Lankan mainland to the Jaffna Peninsula. This strip of road, that rises from an expanse of still water… Continue reading

Lanka lore: Plain beats glitz

Guess how much Maithripala Sirisena’s no-frills swearing-in cost the government, a journalist colleague from Sri Lanka asked after the new president was sworn into office on the evening of January 9. “A princely… Continue reading

Lanka lore: Tiger trail Jaffna

Who would say Jaffna was the epicenter of a violent ethnic conflict that bled the Sri Lankan nation white for decades? To the unaware, it’s a north Sri Lankan town, quaint, picturesque and… Continue reading

Life by the Ganga: Gangotri

More than 100 km from Uttarkashi is Gangotri, where the great river is said to have originated once upon a time before the glacier, from which it sprang, receded to Gomukh. The road… Continue reading

Life by the Ganga: Uttarkashi

Uttarkashi is a six-hour drive from Rishikesh up a road strung like a thread looped around a garland of hills. As it coils up the slopes, the Tehri reservoir is an awesome sight.… Continue reading

Life by the Ganga: Rishikesh

Rishikesh is a mini kibbutz. In this ashram town, barbers’ signboards are in Russian or Hebrew, eateries serve Italian and French breakfast. Thousands from foreign shores come here, some to experience the ascetic… Continue reading

Life by the Ganga: Haridwar

The Ganga gushes ashen, venerated and violated at Haridwar. Every morning the town worships her, each evening pays homage to her. The river is a way of life for the townsfolk. Millions from… Continue reading

The man who brought Gandhi to life

I didn’t know much about Sir Richard Attenborough, other than that he directed Gandhi and emphatically played Outram in Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi. His death revealed the amazing breadth of his life… Continue reading

When people make a place: Oz tales

Mr Honest On a cold and soggy Melbourne evening, I hailed a taxi for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation station. I was new to the city, on my first foreign trip. The year: 1997.… Continue reading

Umbrella Tales: Mera Chhata hai Japani

July 11, 2014. Downtown Tokyo. Level-four hotel room. It’s early morning, the skies brooding, dark. A typhoon has struck a southern island bringing tall, looming, clouds and steady rain to the city. The… Continue reading

Chef: Art on a plate

I came back happy from a screening of Chef. Finally, a man tormented by circumstances and people out to rediscover himself, had succeeded. The film had a real, in-the-flesh ring about it. John… Continue reading

Yet, I love this Beautiful Game

Around this time, four years ago, my father was flown in from Hamburg, in a coffin. He had died on a train to the German city after a massive heart attack. A fellow… Continue reading

Letters from Ladakh: 8 ‘M’s of Ladkah you can’t miss

Mounts on the move They’re everywhere in the mountains, having a blast, gunning their machines, pushing, weaving, having fun, taking grave risks. Wind in their hair, adventure in their hearts, astride manly machines… Continue reading

Letters from Ladakh: Rainbow land Nubra

If Khardungla, the highest motorable road in the world, perches you on top of the world, downhill, Nubra Valley is an absolute charmer. It’s at the end of a zigzag drive that twists and… Continue reading

Letters from Ladakh: La of las, Khardungla

Khardungla, mother of all mountain roads, gets its name from Khardung, a village that sits at the base of a range of very tall, rugged mountains which the world’s highest motorable road cuts… Continue reading

Letters from Ladakh: Ooh la la Ule

On the way back from the Lamayuru monastery to Leh, we stop over at a village called Ule on the banks of the Indus – a quaint place where nobody has ever been in… Continue reading