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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

Woodstock’s Soul Food

“If books are part of the soul of any house, then bookshops are the equivalent for a town” (Alexander McAll Smith). Rachel Phipps’  pocket-sized  Woodstock Bookshop has become a hub of literary interest in a few short years.  It confounds the pessimistic (some would say realistic) view that independent bookshops are doomed. But a thriving […] Read more

Simon Digby’s Collection at the Ashmolean

Simon Digby   In a small room below the major space devoted to Francis Bacon and Henry Moore,  is a selection of delightful miniature paintings collected by my friend Simon Digby and bequeathed by him to the Ashmolean Museum where, in the eighties, he was Assistant Curator (the only paid job he ever had). The […] Read more

Kim- one of the greatest

  “He sat in defiance of municipal orders, astride the gun Zam-Zammeh, on her old platform, opposite the old Ajaib gher, the Wonder House, as the natives called the Lahore Museum. Who hold Zam-Zammah, that ‘fire-breathing dragon’, hold the Punjab, for the great green-bronze piece is always first of the conqueror’s loot.” The opening sentence […] Read more

Mr North, Chimney Sweep

He came in an immaculate van, opening up the back with a flourish and revealing the elaborate array of brushes, rods and cleaning materials, all laid out in symmetrical order. Even though his name was not Mr Soot (of Happy Families) it was fitting enough.   He wore blue plastic overshoes, laid a black cloth […] Read more