From Anuradha Roy’s Cooking Women, the prize-winning entry in the Outlook-Picador Non-Fiction Competition:

“My mother, being the newest bride and wife to the youngest son, was not trusted to cook in the ultimate real kitchen. ?What do they cook in your part of the world, anyway? Just potatoes and roti,? my middle aunt Shanti would remark. For Calcutta Bengalis, my mother was ?as bad as a Bihari? for having lived all her life in Rajasthan. She was thought just about good enough to cut the day?s vegetables. Every morning, she sat on the floor surrounded by brinjals, potatoes and greens bulging out of hessian bags. She placed two basins of water by her side and began with the potatoes, holding each carefully against the blade of the bonti, guarded against the day she sliced off a bit of her finger with the peel.

She was twenty-six. In the humid, gossip-laden confines of the kitchen the melancholy wail of peacocks played nonsensically in her mind, Byron and Swinburne still faintly audible in the distance in lecture notes and Palgrave?s Golden Treasury. In Jaipur, now, she would wear her best chiffon sari, put a fragrant champa in her hair and go off to teach in her school. She would pool money with her friends and sigh in a cinema over the glint in Gregory Peck?s eyes. Surrounded by damp vegetables, she fed on images.”

Farrokh Dhondy seems to think Naipaul’s visit to BJP headquarters needs no defending, a point of view that he defends at length; Aman Khanna asks, “So what’s the fuss about?”, and (nepotism warning) here’s a mildly contrarian viewpoint.

The US Treasury provided several blogs this week with the story of one of the most incredibly pointless bans I’ve ever encountered.

Goosey goosey gander is about prostitutes, Jack and Jill is about the loss of virginity, Oranges and Lemons stands revealed as a sort of leer on the bridal night, and we all know what the little boy down the lane was supposed to symbolise in Baa Baa Black Sheep. I’m getting me to a nunnery where I hope to reside in peace among the abbesses and search for a clean, non-violent nursery rhyme.

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