Main story 4. Taking in sights and signs

Pigeons traipsed in circles and trilled in distress over smoke-blackened rafters at the ongoing intrusion. We had stopped for lunch at Karumbalai, three kilometres out of Salem, ushered in from the main drag by a friendly blancmange in uniform drenched in summer sweat. It was the kind of place where your burp was acknowledged as appreciation. Everyone burped before leaving their tables – met by delighted nods of approval from those around. Soon it was me and my dad’s turn … More»

Featured stories
Booze-some buddy

Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now. Steven Wright (wit, writer, actor)
A mat was placed and the lady, tall, dark and easy on the eyes, motioned me to sit. I looked around the small courtyard, trellised out of view from the neighbouring huts and sat close to the opening – a clump of bristly branches held together with hemp working which required laborious joggling. The livestock in the corral peered at me through moist eyes, eerily calm … More»

Delish Deepika

The sloth bear had turned in for the night, that too stoned, so it was alright our Gypsy had stalled. I and the tracker returned to announce breathlessly that we saw it disappear between a set of boulders not very far away, a mound of fur trundle clumsily in the fast falling dusk. It’s rather long nuzzle nearly upon a thicket or trunk before it retreated and changed directions. My forest tracker, whose marijuana-induced misanthropy had limited our conversation till … More»


The ‘From the Middle East to the Mount Everest’ part is over half way into the book with the climactic final assault of the Everest taking up maybe a page. The perils posed naturally by Hillary Step, the last real challenge along the Southeast route, take up a chunk of the narrative. No falling ice or avalanche, shifting glaciers or nail-biting crevasse crossing. The only suspense here is the author hurrying despite frostbite wanting his summit to coincide with Jordan … More»


Looking for pusta # three-and-half

Most direction-giving is associated with landmarks. Hence the parlance here changes with topography. While the Metro introduced the ‘pillar’ as a driver marker over a decade ago, the ‘pusta’ remained confined to civic suburbia. But as cities become one nonstop conurbation with the south segueing into the southwest into the northwest into the north the pustas have come closer to urban living. But what indeed is the pusta? Heading for a shoot from Dwarka in southwest … More»

A Kangra face-lift

The metallic clanging from the lathe shop falling oddly in step with the strides on the makeshift catwalk next to it could have been an installation. Then, this is what happens when daily life takes an arty turn. Or when you are impressively exposed to unusual attempts at reinventing space through creations that are not aloof from the land or the people surrounding it. But it was just another day in Gunehr. Rather the day before the finale. The culmination … More»

Mr Skywalker

Dreaming of flying is apparently a sign of good tidings. Though I do not know any dream analyst to verify I will go with it. I have been dreaming of flying since I was five and all the good things – at least those I remember – happened afterwards: first glass of beer (age eight), first kiss (soon after), first shoe brand of my choice (Lotto), school expulsions which meant more sympathetic (read pliant) girls. Okay but seriously it was … More»


I am conscious of flux, of disorder; of annihilation and despair. If this is all, this is worthless. (Virginia Woolf, The Waves)
The Master Plan occupied the centrepiece of every conversation and gathering. Or more specifically the Transport Plan which the Master Plan was chiefly about. It was an officious one, a protracted one, albeit disarmingly simplistic which called the road passing through the heart of the town, the ‘spinal cord’ of the town. It proposed a hierarchy of four and … More»


(June 2 is International Sex Workers’ Day. This is a prize winning story revolving around the adventures spanning an evening of Donna aka Devi, a fictitious streetwalker based out of the Thampanoor in Trivandrum, Kerala. Dedicated to all Donnas and Devis out there. May your profession be legalised and organised so that you can live with dignity and courage.)
Two things struck him when he slapped her hard across her face:
- unlike in the movies his hand didn’t swing in a … More»

Meet the people

An idle mind is the devil’s workshop (Biblical) 
You shall do no work on Sabbath (also Biblical) 
Let there be no light
What used to be a water tank for royalty thrives today as watering holes for the proletariat. There is one for every mood as long as it doesn’t involve bright. None of the wordy walls or pop bursts, fashion overdoses or ‘guaranteed awesomeness’ of the pubs in Connaught Place. Here the usher doesn’t welcome you in but directs you up … More»

Elegant edifice

Compared to its Mumbai namesake Jinnah House in Delhi has shunned controversy and sits quietly away from public glare, behind man-high baroque iron gates in the middle of an expansive, well groomed lawn. The guards are armed and unseen, stepping out of their watchhouse only as your car approaches. They look surprised to hear that you have indeed come to ‘10, Aurangzeb Road;’ since the recent renaming to ‘APJ Abdul Kalam Road’ which appears only at intersections most pop by … More»

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