Writing

A room on the roof

Notes from the last barsati ♦ Delhi, early morning. The sun burns through the haze, like a lighthouse lamp growing brighter as the bustling port of waking life approaches, pulling the tides of thought out of the ocean of dreams and towards the shores of reality, where I find myself cast up, suddenly solid, embodied. …

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Song of the open road

Street music ♦ Concerts go down in history for attracting record crowds, for the debut of a groundbreaking work, or the return of a long-absent musician to the gig circuit. Rarely are they remembered for being completely ignored. Yet a performance by American violin virtuoso Joshua Bell became legendary precisely for that reason – and …

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Asharq Al-Awsat

A worthy detour on the road to Damascus ♦ We don’t often find ourselves in Sarita Vihar, but Surya Sweets – a restaurant run out of a budget hotel for Middle Eastern medical tourists – was always reason enough to navigate the truck traffic and the potholes. On a recent expedition to the rapidly urbani­sing …

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Fodor’s Essential India

Guidebook ♦ I wrote several chapters for Fodor’s Essential India guidebook and helped update others for the second edition. This included articles on Indian history and culture, food, archaeological monuments and Delhi. You can preview some of the content here. Originally published in 2011, updated in 2012.

Take notice

Resignedly yours ♦ Leave-taking has been on my mind lately, and my thoughts found their reflection in a photo currently making the social media rounds. The picture shows a resignation letter in edible form: a passion cake (prosaically: carrot cake) with white icing, over which is piped a letter by one Chris “Mr Cake” Holmes, …

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Hats and Doctors

Daisy Rockwell’s translation of the late Upendranath Ashk ♦ Daisy Rockwell’s translation of Hindi-Urdu writer Upendranath Ashk’s short stories is more of a teaser than a complete introduction to the Jalandhar-born author. Rockwell, who also edited the collection, had the fortune to meet Ashk a year before he died in Allahabad in 1996. She admiringly characterises …

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Going off script

A cross-border blog spreads the word of South Asian literature ♦ In India, Pakistani writers in English are considered common property. Their books are often published here first, and writers like Mohammed Hanif, Mohsin Hamid, Kamila Shamsie and Nadeem Aslam frequent our literary festivals. But when it comes to contemporary Hindi or Urdu fiction crossing the …

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