Month: February 2012

  • Odd literary feuds: Greene vs Coward

    From Norman Sherry’s The Life of Graham Greene: “Greene suddenly and without warning began to assail one of the original talents of the world of theatre—Noel Coward. There was no obvious reason for seeing Coward as his bête noire. Perhaps for Greene the ever-popular Coward was a suspect talent, though periodically Greene felt an almost […]

  • How to illustrate your news story on rape

    (From the Feb 2012 Times of India story, ‘Constable booked for raping minor’: (From the Times of India story on the Kolkata car rape victim) (From IBN Live news reports; this seems to be a standard IBN visual for rape news stories) (From IBN Live news reports; FirstPost carried the same screengrab)

  • The BS column: Dilli’s dastangois

    (Published in the Business Standard, February 2012)If you were telling a story in the Cameroons, you might start with: “A fable! A fable! Bring it! Bring it!” Most Bengalis know the folktale riff on “Once upon a time”: “Once there was a king, once there was a queen…” Many tales begin with: “Once there was, […]

  • Baboos and Bande Mataram: India’s little magazines

    (Baboo Jabberjee, BA, by F. Anstey; from the Project Gutenberg free e-book) (Published in the Business Standard, February 2012) Their anniversaries slide by unremarked, except for a handful of scholars and critics who remember the little magazines from a century ago. It’s hard to imagine that era now, when the printing press was as much […]

  • Speaking Volumes: The fatwa against reading

    (Published in the Business Standard on February 14, 2012)Among the many things forgotten about the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini on Valentine’s Day 1989 is that it did not stop at naming Salman Rushdie for writing the Satanic Verses. The author was condemned to death “along with all the editors and publishers aware of its […]

  • #flashreads for free speech/ Feb 14th

    Update: Thanks to all those who participated in or started their own #flashreads groups in Delhi, Bangalore, Bombay, Kochi and Kolkata–what we had this year was several small groups of volunteers doing readings in libraries, markets and public parks. Special thanks to our youngest protestor in Delhi, 10-year-old Nikhil, who read from Luka and the […]

  • #flashreads for free speech:

    (All posters courtesy the generosity of Sanjay Sipahimalani–for all four free speech posters, go to Antiblurbs.) SHORT READINGS FOR #flashreads—SUGGESTED PASSAGES. (For more selections, email me or drop me a line at How many Ramayanas ? Three hundred? Three thousand? At the end of some Ramayanas , a question is sometimes asked: How many […]

  • Speaking Volumes: How To Be A Journalist-Katherine Boo

    (Published in the Business Standard, February 2012, just to add to the growing mountain of Kate Boo-worship.)“One choice that I don’t agonise about is when I write, keeping myself out of it. The reporter writing about how she got her story has become de rigeur: a lot of self-mythologising bullshit.” There is no ‘I’ in […]

  • Speaking Volumes: The Great Trotter

    (Published in the Business Standard, January 2012. Re-reading The Trotternama after years, it struck me that Allan had anticipated the Tumblr generation-that book was made to be read on a Tumblr in little doses. Someone should start one in his honour.) In the 1970s, the Cellar in Delhi’s Connaught Place and Trinca’s in Park Street […]