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[ 24 Jun 2016 | 2 Comments ]
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»

[ 17 Jun 2016 | 2 Comments ]
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»

[ 8 Jun 2016 | 2 Comments ]

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»

[ 2 Jun 2016 | No Comment ]

(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»

[ 21 May 2016 | 4 Comments ]
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»

[ 6 May 2016 | 6 Comments ]
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»

[ 29 Apr 2016 | 2 Comments ]
Where has the rest gone to? (A handout photo)

Tracing the largely unseen underwear to the land of its origin is probably the closest to discovery we can make these days. But for New Zealand columnist and travel writer Joe Bennett the reasons for the pursuit weren’t so illustrious: the measly price tag on the five-pack set from his local store made him wonder who would possibly profit from the transaction. He, like the rest of us, has no idea how a pair is made. He is however aware … More»

[ 15 Apr 2016 | 2 Comments ]

Must have been the tempestuous night I started in the morning to a gentle wake. It took a while to collect my bearings: the thatched roof tapered towards the top, quartered window frames girded by coir, bamboo-matted partitions, wood slab flooring. An air conditioner thrummed somewhere. Unfamiliar contours. A throbbing head. The bed swayed. A glass bottle rolled across the floor making a muted Bonsho sound; its vivid label on the front alternating with its blank bone-white behind. Rustle. There … More»

[ 2 Apr 2016 | 6 Comments ]

“There is a temple in the centre, around it is a mosque,” said Chotu (‘helper’) pointing through the spiny shrubs that separated the palisaded ASI monument and the reclaimed bog where the workshop stood. Once he was sure he had my undivided attention he went on to assure me that there was ‘firing and killing and burning’ between Hindus and Muslims. But that was way before he came from Bihar, eight years ago, as a 10-year-old on the wallaby track. … More»

[ 26 Mar 2016 | 2 Comments ]

There is a saying in Kerala which goes ‘the jasmine in one’s own backyard lacks fragrance.’ A Keralan for forty years, I laid my eyes on it for the first time last week – that too from an open balcony, unable to stretch anything more than my line of vision. I just had the heartiest lunch at my sister’s new home a few kilometres away from it. While I have listened with rapture to narratives of the Sacre-Coeur, still remember … More»