/Culture

Culture presents reflections on such non-serious but non-trivial matters as music, literature and travel.

Words From An Open Mind To A Closed Or Sealed One


Hindustan Times

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 had [...]

My Favourite Bangalorean


The Telegraph

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 Mistry); [...]

In Praise Of West Indies Cricket and Cricketers


Hindustan Times

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 semi-final. [...]

By |2016-04-17T23:38:48+00:00April 10th, 2016|Categories: Culture|Tags: , , , |

Why The Dalai Lama May Be India’s Noblest Resident


Hindustan Times

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 the [...]

By |2016-04-10T22:25:55+00:00January 31st, 2016|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Culture|Tags: , , |

Searching For Saints In Songs And Pictures


Hindustan Times

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 years [...]

Why Bengal Is To India What France Is To The World


The Telegraph

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 sister. [...]

By |2015-12-29T08:51:16+00:00December 29th, 2015|Categories: Culture|Tags: , |

A Green and Pleasant Land


The Telegraph

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’. I [...]

By |2015-12-25T12:46:14+00:00November 28th, 2015|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Culture|

Why Gandhi Would Have Been Appalled By The “Gandhi-Mandela Trophy”


The Telegraph

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 less [...]

By |2015-11-13T11:04:29+00:00October 31st, 2015|Categories: History, Culture|Tags: , , |

The Enduring Charm Of Independent Bookstores


Hindustan Times

For many years now, I have spent much of my time, and most of my money, on books bought in stores owned by individuals rather than corporations. Within India, I had four favourite bookstores; Premier’s in Bangalore, Fact & Fiction in Delhi, Ram Advani in Lucknow, and Giggles in Chennai. The store I knew best was [...]

By |2015-10-23T22:19:37+00:00September 27th, 2015|Categories: Culture|Tags: , , , , , , |

Why Canada May Be The World’s Most Underrated Country


Hindustan Times

The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. This is why every Presidential campaign attracts such wide attention, both the primaries of the two main parties and then the election itself. The campaign for the 2016 election is in its early stages. A candidate who has made a striking impression [...]

By |2015-10-16T11:04:27+00:00September 13th, 2015|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Culture|