Ping Pong and Pico Iyer

Most travellers don’t like owning up to being tourists, but author and essayist Pico Iyer claims the label with a sense of pride. Iyer, whose travel writing over the past 30-odd years has been celebrated for its insightful observations and lyrical beauty, describes himself as a “global wanderer” who has lost count of the number of countries he’s visited. And he’s done it all on tourist visas. Even the place he lives in for the better part of the year – Japan – is one he has returned to year on year, since 1992, on a tourist visa. “I choose … Continue reading Ping Pong and Pico Iyer

VS Naipaul: 1932-2018

Just yesterday, a friend and I met for a long overdue brunch and ended up fretting over Sir Vidia the man and VS Naipaul the author. (It was our version of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society; just without the eye candy of Michiel Huisman, sadly, but with excellent eggs. So there’s that). Naipaul came up because the conversation had found its way to that familiar fork in the road: can the personality and politics of a creator be separated from their work? I struggle with that question because of people like Naipaul, I told my friend after … Continue reading VS Naipaul: 1932-2018

“And I start to speak again.”

One of the lovelier things about the internet is the way scraps of poetry get shared as quotes and photos, like notes being passed around in the classroom while the teacher’s back is turned. At the same time, these are fragments. Sometimes they obscure the uncomfortable truth that those selected bits are the only truly good lines in the poem. And then there are the others, like “North American Time” by Adrienne Rich which deserves to be read in full, all nine parts.  NORTH AMERICAN TIME I When my dreams showed signsof becomingpolitically correctno unruly imagesescaping beyond borderwhen walking in … Continue reading “And I start to speak again.”

The Incomplete Works

“There are many qualities one must possess to be a working writer or artist. Talent, brains, tenacity. Wealthy parents are good. You should definitely try to have those. But first among equals, when it comes to necessary ingredients, is selfishness. A book is made out of small selfishnesses.” ~ Claire Dederer A biography, a kids’ book and a thriller — all of them written while working full time as a journalist, at jobs that were unforgiving, demanding and time-consuming. I am, clearly, a masochist. If you think that the hard part is finding the time to write outside of working … Continue reading The Incomplete Works

Hello 2018

Earlier today, the moon was a lopsided and luminous sphere. As the last sunset of 2017 gathered the light and runaway streaks of pink dashed across the darkening sky, the moon beamed. While it became brighter, shadows settled over a graveyard, football-playing boys ended their game, streetlights came on along with televisions and kitchen appliances that were tasked with making dinner; and the basic everyday rituals that hold days and families together unfolded as they do. Even in that swarm of electric light, the moon stood out. It felt unforgettable at that moment, too beautiful to ever fade around the edges. … Continue reading Hello 2018

The (2nd) Golden Age of Indian Comics

When India Today gave me a word count of 800 words for a story on the Indian comics scene, I knew I’d end up writing more and would have to cut it down to size. However, I hadn’t anticipated that I’d write about 2,000 ‘extra’ words. The ruthlessly-edited version of this article is out in this week’s India Today and you can read it online here. Even if you don’t have the patience to read the whole thing, scroll down because I’ve got some rather winsome images from the people I spoke to for this article.  On November 30, 2017, DC Comics dropped the trailer … Continue reading The (2nd) Golden Age of Indian Comics

Arundhati Roy and Utmost Happiness

Just before The Ministry of Utmost Happiness came out in India, I had a chance to meet Arundhati Roy, which also meant that I got to read the book a little before it arrived on bookshelves. To me, the book is uneven. It has both spectacular craftsmanship as well as eye-roll-inducing clichés. It’s ambitious and flawed, struggling to maintain a balance between all the stories contained in the novel and the issues to which it wants to do justice. The novel demands patience from the reader and if you give it that, it rewards you with fragments of terrible beauty. … Continue reading Arundhati Roy and Utmost Happiness