Published and unpublished writing on art, books, cities, food, travel and other reportage.

Killing Snobbery Softly

Anuja Chauhan takes a stab at the murder mystery genre and skewers elitism in the process ♦ This story was originally published in India Today. It’s hard to say whether the characters in Anuja Chauhan’s five previous novels were as loathsome as the ones in her newest, Club You to Death, or whether elite Indian …

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Mixing it up

How Indian bartenders are taking a shot at entrepreneurship ♦ This story was originally published in India Today. Last April, Ajesh Joseph, head mixologist at Jetlag, Bengaluru, posted a video of himself zooming, literally, up and down a hallway, draped over a wheelie bin. It was captioned ‘Quarantine day 10’. He subsequently shared a slapstick …

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The Nature of Things

A rare exhibition from ‘somewhere in Northeast India’ forces you to see both the woods and the trees ♦ This story was originally published in India Today. Composing a landscape is inherently an act of taming nature. There isn’t necessarily a direct relation between the rules of artistic composition (perspective, thirds, movement within the frame) …

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Review: The Biscuit

Lizzie Collingham traces the journey of the biscuit from sustenance to sweet treats ♦ This story was originally published in India Today. This summer, when migrant workers streamed out of India’s locked down cities, one of the recurrent images of their long walks to their home villages was of packets of biscuits: sometimes all they …

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The Great Defender

Appupen’s Rashtraman comics use ribald humour to reflect political reality ♦ This story was originally published in India Today. On November 28, Appupen put up an installment from his new comic book Rashtrayana II: Divide and Fool, which is being serialized on Brainded, the website and collective he co-founded five years ago. The chapter featured …

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Bold and Brassy

Review: The Brass Notebook by Devaki Jain ♦ This story was originally published in India Today. In her landmark 1962 novel, The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing explored what it meant to be a ‘free woman’, while acknowledging the irony built in to the phrase. ‘Free women’, says the protagonist ‘wryly’ and with anger, ‘They still …

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Bringing Home the Bacon

India is seeing the emergence of an enthusiastic culture around pork ♦ A version of this story was originally published in India Today. Being in a close relationship with a pork lover isn’t something you take lightly. Once, at a party, a large ham made a brief appearance before the guests prior to being whisked …

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Eating Clean

Theatrically sanitised restaurant meals, untouched by human hands and wrapped in meters of plastic are our new food fetish. ♦ This story was originally published in The Indian Quarterly. For as long as humans have recorded images of the world around them, they’ve recorded images of their food and diet. The earliest figurative cave paintings …

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When YouTube Gets Your Goat: E-Commerce, Eid and the Bakrebaaz Life

India’s goat farmers aren’t kidding around when they say they’re having a bad year. The months leading up to Bakr-Eid are typically the most hectic season for the business, and the bulk of sales happen at bakra mandis – special markets that come up weeks in advance of the date – in cities across the country.

Dystopic Living

Author Samit Basu lays out Delhi’s best-case scenario in his sci-fi novel, and it is horrific. ♦ Originally published in India Today. Dystopia is pornographic,” says one character to another in Chosen Spirits. “You see it and shiver but it’s also kind of fun because it’s happening somewhere else, to someone else, you know? It …

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