/Culture

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

Choosing The Ten Greatest Indians


Hindustan Times

When, in August 2017, India marked the seventieth year of its freedom from British colonial rule, the Hindustan Times did a series of long stories on seventy of this and seventy of that: the seventy best books written since Independence, the seventy greatest sportspersons since Independence, the seventy finest films since Independence, the seventy most influential [...]

Rediscovering One’s Land


The Telegraph

On the second day of 2017, I drove from the colonial hill station of Coonoor to the great old port city of Kochi. Thus began a month of almost continuous travel, in which I took many flights, but also spent long stretches on the road, seeing the land from up on high and from  the ground [...]

The Best Player Not To Play For India


Hindustan Times

This winter India play thirteen Test matches at home. The last time they played so many was back in 1979-80, when two in three Indians now alive were unborn. This (to me) welcome superabundance of Test cricket has sparked many conversations about what, the popularity of T20 notwithstanding, remains the highest and most satisfying form of [...]

Five Lessons For Indian Democrats


Hindustan Times

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 speech [...]

The Mahatma On Medicine


The Telegraph

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 changed. [...]

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. [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]