Monthly Archives: October 2008

A First Look at Meghalaya

In spite of the day’s tragedy, the drive from Guwahati, in the state of Assam, to Shillong, in Meghalaya, was a wonderful one. This is hill country where smart slant-roofed houses line the highway and where the landscape is clean and green. I love the aroma of the forest. It reminded me of the days […]

Of Fireworks and Other Explosions

Just like the last Hindu celebration I witnessed in Mumbai, I don’t understand Diwali, the “Festival of Lights.” It has something to do with the blue-skinned Krishna’s victory over something or other. Every street in Calcutta had a temporary shrine to Krishna built. Some were tiny modest structures. Others were grand tents several metres high. […]

So Happy This Didn’t Happen to Me

(I don’t know if I am allowed to just cut and paste stories from The Globe and Mail onto this blog, but I can’t resist posting this one.) TRIPPING: RIDING THE RAILS IN INDIAFlush from embarrassment RITA PARIKH Special to The Globe and Mail October 18, 2008 It didn’t come crashing to a shrieking halt. […]

Comedians and Street Sleepers

It is amazing to me the two societies that exist here. There are the middle and upper classes who go to work in their business suits and dress up for weekends at the nightclubs. And there is the population that lives just beneath their knees on the ground and in the dirt, the people that […]

At the Bangladesh Border

The official at the Border Security Forces office with the small cheery moustache laughed when I told him I wanted to see the border fence at Jayantipur. “That is impossible,” he said. “It is a restricted area.” Otherwise, he and the other soldiers in the office were friendly and happy to answer all my questions. […]

In Calcutta

In revenge for the burning of his wife, Sati, the God Shiva decided to destroy the universe. The God Vishnu, thankfully, stopped Shiva by flinging a discus at him. The weapon also severed Sati’s charred corpse into 51 pieces which were flung across the landscape. Her little toe landed on the banks of the Hughli […]

Thinking about Travel Writing

Last night I attended a reading and discussion put on by the American Club in Mumbai. An American nature writer and poet named Bruce Berger was in town. After reading some wonderful poetry, Mr. Berger spoke with a moderator, poet Ranjit Hoskote, and the small audience about the writing life. The discussion turned to travel […]

October 15

Painting the Walls in Mumbai

“My friends drool over guys. They drool over cars,” said Dhanya Pilo as we walked along Chapel Road in her neighborhood. “I drool over walls.” Meeting Dhanya and writing about her Walls Project are the primary reasons I am in Mumbai. It is an interesting story. Last year, Dhanya had just finished an internship working […]

Mumbai moments

I don’t understand Hinduism. The philosophy is simple enough, but the rituals and the pantheon of multi-headed and multi-armed gods are beyond my understanding. I witnessed a ritual on Chowpatty Beach the other night. Devout Hindus prayed and sang in front of the statues of goddesses, then they immersed the goddesses in the sea. I […]

In the Maximum City

I am finding it hard to know what to write about Mumbai. This is a city, after all, that has been so well-served by writers far better than I am. And one of them, Suketu Mehta, encapsulated Mumbai in two words: ‘maximum city.’ I didn’t know what to expect here. Everyone I know who has […]