Culture
Culture presents reflections on such non-serious but non-trivial matters as music, literature and travel.
  Five Lessons For Indian Democrats, Hindustan Times [Sunday, July 3rd, 2016]

Late last year, I wrote in these columns that we were in danger of becoming an ‘elections-only democracy’. Once a party or coalition wins an Assembly or General Election, it considers itself immune from criticism for the next five years. The other instruments of democratic accountability: legislative debate, judicial oversight, a free press (and free [...]

 
 
line

 
  The Mahatma On Medicine, The Telegraph [Saturday, May 14th, 2016]

I belong to a family of doctors trained in modern or Western medicine. Back in the 1980s, the doctors I was related to, or friends with, were all sceptical of alternative forms of health care. They had no time for homeopathy, ayurveda or acupuncture, no time even for yoga. Over the decades their attitudes have [...]

 
 
line

 
  Words From An Open Mind To A Closed Or Sealed One, Hindustan Times [Sunday, May 8th, 2016]

A once great but now mostly forgotten Bangalorean was Mirza Ismail. A distinguished Dewan of both Mysore and Jaipur, in those princely states he reformed and modernized the administration, beautified their capital cities, and emphasized modern education. In both Jaipur and Mysore, there are roads named after him, as well as charming markets that he [...]

 
 
line

 
  My Favourite Bangalorean, The Telegraph [Saturday, April 30th, 2016]

The achievements of the Parsis are well known. A community numbering some 70,000 people has produced some of India’s greatest patriots (Dadabhai Naoroji, Bhikaji Cama); its most prominent and philanthropically oriented business houses (the Tatas, the Godrejs); its finest scientists (Homi Bhabha); its most respected lawyers (Nani Palkhivala, Fali Nariman); its most admired writers (Rohinton [...]

 
 
line

 
  In Praise Of West Indies Cricket and Cricketers, Hindustan Times [Sunday, April 10th, 2016]

On the last day of March, a friend of mine, temporarily in London, wandered into a pub. It was night in India, but afternoon in England, so there were just the odd drinker around. My friend persuaded the pub’s owner to switch the channel to Sky Sports, so that he could watch the World T20 [...]

 
 
line

 
  Why The Dalai Lama May Be India’s Noblest Resident, Hindustan Times [Sunday, January 31st, 2016]

Unlike the airport in my home town, Bengaluru, or the airports in two cities I visit often, Mumbai and Delhi, the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose airport in Kolkata is run not by a private firm but by the Airports Authority of India. This must be why, unlike in Bengaluru, Delhi or Mumbai, as one approaches [...]

 
 
line

 
  Searching For Saints In Songs And Pictures, Hindustan Times [Sunday, January 3rd, 2016]

I have a decent head for names, dates, places, events, but can remember few snatches of poetry. Truth be told, there are only two pieces of verse that I have committed to memory. Both are very short. The first is this Kabir doha that I learnt in my junior school in Uttar Pradesh some fifty [...]

 
 
line

 
  Why Bengal Is To India What France Is To The World, The Telegraph [Tuesday, December 29th, 2015]

In a book published some years ago, the sociologist Rabindra Ray observed that Bengalis were so obsessed with intellecual pursuits that even their swear words reflected this. In other parts of India, the most common form of abuse dealt with incest—you accused someone you disliked or were quarrelling with of sleeping with his mother or [...]

 
 
line

 
  A Green and Pleasant Land, The Telegraph [Saturday, November 28th, 2015]

Some twenty years ago, my wife and I called on Nirad Chaudhuri at his home in Oxford. The great little writer was happy to see us, but less pleased with my wife’s apparel. ‘That [chooridar kurta] is an Islamic dress’, he barked, ‘in Bengal we [Hindu men] would never allow our women to wear it’. [...]

 
 
line

 
  Why Gandhi Would Have Been Appalled By The “Gandhi-Mandela Trophy”, The Telegraph [Saturday, October 31st, 2015]

India and South Africa have just concluded a five match one-day series for the ‘Gandhi-Mandela Trophy’. Next week, they will commence the first of four Tests for a trophy carrying the same name. When, back in August, this new trophy was announced, a friend said it was a case of small men wishing to look [...]

 
 
line