Month: June 2013

  • Speaking Volumes: The reader of Robben Island

    (Published in the Business Standard, June 24th, 2013, as news came in that Nelson Mandela had been hospitalized.)  The prison rules on Robben Island allowed the incarcerated to study, with some caveats. Their most famous prisoner, Nelson Mandela, meant to continue reading, no matter how small his cell. The Robben Island library was limited, though […]

  • Speaking Volumes: Riotous Writers

      (Published in the Business Standard, June 18, 2013) Remember the old joke about the Soviet Union? Two friends, an American and a Russian, are engaged in competitive bragging. “My country is so free,” says the American, “that I can stand on the steps of the White House and shout, ‘Ronald Reagan is a crook […]

  • Speaking Volumes: Bookshoppery

    (I’d written most of this column when I sent an idle tweet out, asking people to name their favourite bookshops. The response went on for the next two days: below the column, some favourite tweets. Thank you all for crowdsourcing this! ) Published in the Business Standard, May 20, 2013   Bookshops that aren’t really […]

  • Speaking Volumes: The View From The Stars

    Speaking Volumes: The View From The Stars

        (Published in the Business Standard, June 11, 2013) Light years ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a band of aliens have left home in their spaceships, hoping to make their way to our planet. And when they finally arrive, this is what they’ll say to humankind: “You didn’t call? You didn’t write?” […]

  • Speaking Volumes: Tanvir’s Petromax Theatre

    (Published in the Business Standard, June 5, 2013) Though I know that Habib Tanvir’s plays, from Agra Bazaar to Charandas Chor and Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya, were often performed inside the chaste space of auditoriums in Delhi, my memory insists on situating them outside. The spaces most natural to the late theatre maven and his […]

  • Speaking Volumes: In Defense of Food

    (Published in the Business Standard, May 28, 2013) The crumb of the bread was dark and soft, the irregular pattern of the grain signalling that it had been hand-kneaded, not machine-made. In Delhi, it would have been called “artisinal”, given a fancy packaging and equally fancy price; in this friend’s home in Shimla, it was […]