The lure of shiny objects

In my imagination, Ramchand Khemchand Academy, where I started my unremarkable education, loomed like a huge fortress over Colaba. Every afternoon, at lunchtime, we would troop down to the basement canteen for lunch. This was still the ’70s, so mothers would arrive with lunchboxes of steaming food and cajole bored children into consuming their body-weight’s ...

Railway stories 1

Great train journeys are a fixture on the landscape of Indian nostalgia. Whenever you are stuck for conversation, all you have to do is whisper something like, “Don’t you love travelling by train?”, and all manner of stories will come tumbling forth. But I realise now that these are romanticised memories of our childhood, and ...

Doctors worried about new foot-in-mouth epidemic 4

A terrifying new disease is spreading its slimy tentacles all across the country, only months after the first outbreak. The disease, caused by a deadly virus, targets people such as politicians, public officials, and even gurus, whose moral immunity may have already been weakened by years of exposure to similar illnesses.  The disease mainly affects ...

Running is the new religion 4

Last Sunday, I went for an early morning walk in Lalbagh, one of the two large gardens of Bangalore. Now Lalbagh on most mornings is a little microcosm of Bangalore. Old people in freshly-starched clothes walk next to unwashed teenagers in their pyjamas.  Couples laze on benches, middle-aged men do yoga, children cry for lost ...

Homesickness 3

You ask me where I’m from. What can I say? My heart belongs to Bombay, my mind to Melbourne Madras keeps me sane, And Bangalore always, always feels like home. In Bahrain, I lived many lives, My school had all of India, And I watched American cartoons In a Tamil-Telugu home. My neighbour was a ...

All that litters… 5

As an upright, upstanding citizen of Bangalore, I am very much upset at Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) actions these past few weeks. Fustofall, I must tell you, I am not one of those people who go around always criticising the country. For your information, I am very proudest Indian. Everyday I am doing my ...

What I learnt from Tamil serials (or, Lou in the time of Halloween) 16

Reports say that, over the Diwali weekend, apartment complexes all over Bangalore and Hyderabad were invaded by gangs of costumed children demanding candy. Halloween, it seems, had arrived in South India. “I was forced to hand over 2 kg of Diwali laddoo”, said one agitated woman, “And they didn’t even sing carols!”. It was a ...

All the world’s a stage 11

All the world's a stage
The Old Magazine House at Ganeshgudi is the stuff of birdwatching legend. If you believed the stories, all you had to do was grab a cup of tea, take a seat in front of the birdbaths, and watch. It all sounded so fantastic that my husband, Kumar, and I had to go see it for ...

Long hair for make-benefit glorious Indian culture 18

I have come to believe that we Indians are somewhat obsessed with hair. I cut my hair short a few years ago. Now, I always thought cutting my hair was an independent decision I was allowed to take, being an adult and all. But no. Apparently, I should have taken permission for this from distant ...

How to become a Guru 3

When I was a child, I was obsessed with Amar Chitra Katha books, especially the ones about saints and sadhus. I grew up imagining that I was also going to turn into one. I would stare into the mirror and consider deep philosophical questions such as “Who is this I? What does it mean to ...