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Life Among the Scorpions

LIFE AMONG THE SCORPIONS: Memoirs of a woman in Indian politics (Rupa and Co. 2017, 294 pages, available from Amazon) No Indian woman has written openly about the stresses and hassles of functioning in the political sphere- it would be too embarrassing to mention sexual harassment in a society that purports to revere leaders and […] Read more

A Short History of my Coats

So eagerly looked forward to and so disappointing, Northern winds dash our dreams of  an early Spring and even though the  almond blossom flashes knicker pink as I cycle past the University church and fragile petals on plum trees light up Woodstock Road, those winds are shaking them down like snowflakes. This morning as I […] Read more

Fave caffs (14): Tumbling Bay

Should you crave a plate of something delicious: mushroom stroganoff, broccoli, spinach and pea soup, chickpea, spinach and tomato curry, sweet potato, kale and quinoa cakes with a small crisp salad (my favourite) then seek out the modest little community cafe off the Botley Road. It  lies at the back of a functional looking building  […] Read more

The paper cutters of Mathura

    You could snip through an artery in a trice if you owned a priceless pair of scissors like the ones in the picture belonging to Ram Soni, eldest of four paper cutting artists. “The blacksmith makes ten and only two will be fit for purpose. They must have the right balance and grip, […] Read more

High Altitudes in Mehr Chand Market

Before I touch base in C block Defence Colony, the home of my brother and sister-in-law, I direct the taxi which has fetched me from the airport to Altitude Stores in Mehr Chand Market. I think the market is named for Mehr Chand Mahajan, the third  Chief Justice of independent India and the first, albeit […] Read more

Nepali Christmas in Delhi

  Christmas Day in Defence Colony dawned with much more than the usual mist and smog. It was suddenly colder and there was no sighting of  sun behind the dull sky. I missed the 8 o’clock Hindi service and then the 9 o’clock English service at St Luke’s, so I went instead to a wonderful […] Read more

This Is Just To Say I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox   And which you were probably saving for breakfast   Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold “What’s that poem by William Carlos Williams? The one I love?” And Laura, the delightfully whimsical wife who loves nothing […] Read more

Basket Case

  The OED’s earliest citation for the use of the phrase “basket case” dates from January 1919, two months after the war ended. It’s from Oak Leaves, a local newspaper in Oak Park, Ill.: “There were seven ‘basket cases,’ men without arms or legs.” And their mobility was their invalid basket, or early wheelchair. The […] Read more

Hospitality (4) Quinta da Concecaio, Setubal

An owl lived in the dark green cork woods and I was lulled  to  sleep  by gentle hooting.  A harvest moon silvered a swimming pool flanked by classical pillars and a Moorish aqueduct, crickets stridulated during the slow languid afternoon and a rumbustious cock crowed somewhere in the distance. These were exceptions to the silence […] Read more

Berlin Uber Cool

Berlin There is a whole way of living that has been carrying on outside my observational watchtower, because it is mainly the playground of the young  (under forties) although persons vulgarly called aging hipsters are allowed a grudging look-in. However, this exception to the rule admits only the very wealthy, very mad or geniuses (self […] Read more