Kashgar II

There is none of the Ozymandian triumphalism of Uzbekistan’s Timurid, Shaybanid or Samanid skyscraping here, no imperial proclamation in stone of primacy of worship...

Jackfruit Season

The clouds leak constantly. I imagine someone doing laundry up in the sky, trying to wash dark smudges from the rain clouds, wringing them dry into white fluff once again. The clouds have no shame. They weep constantly, not caring that all eyes are turned towards them.
"Rue de Paris, temps de pluie," by Gustave Caillebotte (1877)

Paris in the Nineteenth Century

“On the inclined plane of immorality, France is descending with an ever-accelerated speed, till it seems to have almost reached the lowest point of depravity.” Such is the witness of a faithful Frenchman. On such principles we cease to wonder that Paris is the centre of intrigues, the patroness of vice, the asylum of all infamy.
Shoe Shine Boy Oaxaca

The Shoe Shine Boy of Oaxaca

I was eating at an outdoor table on the zocolo when the kid approached me and stopped at my table, his words spewing forth, all business. “Mister, you want your shoes shined. Three pesos, mister, I shine your shoes. Okay?” It didn’t matter that I didn’t answer him right away. The kid with the San Francisco Giants cap that was too big on his head squatted and set up his kit. A rag draped over two fingers was ready to dip into the tin of brown polish.
Duomo di Modena, Milan, Italy

Milano, Italia

A breeze in a nearby museum, the Gallery of Contemporary Art, that had as a centerpiece a Basquiat painting of dirty yellows and reds, with a black anthropocentric figure made of thick lines, an abstraction, a negation of the plump oil-rich bodies of the classic Italian paintings of the main gallery. The only black figure in the building seemed to leap like a jazz fugue note in an orchestra.
Koniak (Konyak)

Trip to the Land of Borderland

Can you ever imagine your bedroom in India and your kitchen in Myanmar. Isn’t it bizarre and wouldn’t it be strange to know that your home is divided not between family members or even relatives but between two nations? As bizarre as it sounds they exists!
Eastbourne Redoubt Fortress

Gods of Luck and Chance

I drive east toward the coast. It is not long before I am on that high, snaking road that I remember vividly from the days when my brother and I would be sitting in the backseats, arguing about whose tape would be played on the stereo or else asking again and again how long it would take until we got to wherever we were going.

Back to Broadcast

I’ve made the trip and am currently sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for everyone to go Chez Leon for our farewell dinner. Over at the bar, a group of Scotsmen slam Guinness on the counter, raving about a run-in with two English men. A literal run-in.


Shelburne Falls is cold, bright and distant, coated in the sleep of nightfall and the blinking watch of the Great Bear and Little Bear. There are no streetlamps here. Only endless frames of trees and ice leading to a house with an attic and a wraparound porch.
Lalgola Raj Bari

Lalmohans and other Fictions of Lalgola

Can one walk into a sleepy town in the early hours of morning and feel like one has entered a novel? A bodily jerk on the electric rickshaw has thrown one into a story and shaken away all vestiges of daily life, that have to be reclaimed as phone chargers and bills in handbags. One’s erstwhile chronicles will find no co-ordinates in the fictional life of this small, nondescript border town in rural Bengal.
Beer Prague

The Beer and other Clichés

Illuminated faces by a golden or amber liquid, spume hung to the lips. Tongue clearing the whole thing. Behind the counter, this is an endless and sped-up video of the day, in a paradoxical slow-motion: steins get filled, two different taps, one for the foam, the other one for the golden brown liquid.
Rohith Vemula_Hyderabad Central University

Rohith Vemula’s Impossible Journey

It would not be wrong to say that today a spectre is haunting India, the spectre of Rohith Vemula. What Rohith was unable to do in life, his spectre has come to do in death. It haunts honourable ministers and prime minister alike; it is the rallying point around which gathers and revolves the nationwide student’s movement of 2016. His return after death as a symbol of the caste discrimination millions of Indians suffer daily has come to haunt the dreams of the powerful.
Kyoto Museum

The Tiger in the Outlines

Back to Kyoto four months later, after leaving it in that summer haze when I cycled through the streets and every sight and sound wove meaning into the larger scene. Saturated it. I found the temples by the sluice and its rock garden that rippled through me. I looked into its rooms at the dimly lit paintings, the tiger’s shimmering golden lines. I wrote a blog, felt renewed and re-discovered. I’m still in dialogue with those initial impressions of Kyoto.
malala sunrise

Malala Sunrise

Lest this be confusing, let me illuminate the matter with who Malala is. Malala is terrier bitch who generally plays on the Miami Beach. Her owner, or rather companion is Qausar Soomro, who has simplified his name to Kaisar for the benefit of the American tongue -- which may have benefited anyway only if the name was changed to Casey.
Kamarpara Aro Akash

The Loss of a Horizon: Kamarpara

A thatched roof with muted light seeping through what appeared to be stained glass had caught our attention. Stained glass in a village with barely any sign of urbanisation, in the red laterite district of Birbhum, not one of the more affluent and developed districts of the state?

When Moonje Met Mussolini

While M.S. Golwalkar is the better known ideologue of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, Dr. B.S. Moonje was no less influential in the formation of the ethos of militant Hindu nationalism. A brilliant ophthalmologist who discovered a new way of treating cataract, he was the head of the Hindu Mahasabha from 1927 to 1937, when he was succeeded by V.D. Savarkar. He was a close friend and mentor of Hegdewar as well. After attending the Second Round Table Conference in England in 1931
New Jersey

Lost and Found in New Jersey

Last year my wife and I drove from New Jersey to Florida and back. We visited the low country of South Carolina, the sea islands of Georgia, and the coastal wetlands of northern Florida. Two years ago we drove from New Jersey to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina, and then drove west, across Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico, up into Colorado and across Wolf Creek Pass in the San Juan Mountains and down into Durango.