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Twenty Years Back… This has been one of those mythical summers, when bees get drunk on obscenely gorgeous roses and honeysuckle, when Panama hats and straw boaters are essential wardrobe items, when proper thirst assumes reality, when grass shrivels and sun burns blisters on the skin. In June Wimbledon recorded 112F (surely not- must be […] Read more

A week in Kardimyli

    The olive groves were silent, the blue sea rolled below, still  queasy after the night’s storm and no one was around as I walked around Patrick Leigh Fermor’s  house absorbing the atmosphere and trying to find traces of the late writer’s presence. Although I couldn’t see into his garden, I managed to get […] Read more

Romanys and the three saints

Vincent van Gogh: Gypsy encampment I’d never been to the Camargue before, the home of salt marshes, red rice, wild horses and pink flamingoes and because I was curious to witness the great annual gypsy pilgrimage to Saint Sara Kali in the fishing village of Saintes Maries de la Mer, I  held my nose and […] Read more

Hospitality

Hospitable: adj. giving, disposed to give, welcome and entertainment to strangers or guests: hence-ality adv. (OED) In the Odyssey Homer says that  a guest never forgets a host who has treated him kindly but, because hospitality is now widely commercialized to be the cornerstone of the  tourism industry, kindness (which springs out of charity, mercy […] Read more

Art in India

Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if I never went to another art exhibition, read another novel or poem or listened to another musical performance. It would be lesser, of course, without the banquet of  earthly delights to wonder at and rejoice in; and would leave me without the comfort  of a […] Read more

Celebration

Today is Priya’s birthday, so my mother asked Mishri Lal the Cook to make a feast to celebrate the happy day. Significant days in the calendar- birthdays, anniversaries, special prayer days- are marked by specially delicious and calorific dishes: potatoes curried with tomatoes,  sweet and sour chickpeas, puffy fried puris and a sticky semolina halvah […] Read more

A school in the country

There is a particular excitement in spotting an unknown bird, especially one with a lively plumage. The one I saw in a Delhi park was round and plump like a robin, but its front was a glossy dark blue, its top feathers were sooty like charcoal and it sported a red flash on its rump.  […] Read more

Alfonso de Albuquerque (the King of Mangoes is named after him) arrived  in Goa in 1542 followed by  his Portugese  compatriots a few years later.  They colonized this end of the Malabar coast, becoming  busily engaged in commerce and conversion and hugely brutal with it. In 1961 our idolised first Prime Minister, Mr Nehru,  sent […] Read more

manipuris

We Indians are all familiar with  time-honoured and, frankly, yawn-making  clichés about our distinctive regional  pecadilloes; after all, what sets a Punjabi apart from a Bengali and a Bengali from a Southerner or a Gujerati from a U.P bhaiya?  We fondly cherish stereotypes of  the brainy Bong who eats a lot of fish and thus […] Read more

Old Goa: Mrs Suares in Fontainhas

Mrs Suares is a sprightly 92 year-old  Goan lady of education and culture. She was a schoolteacher, like her late husband. He won many awards for his teaching of Portugese and I wish I had asked her to recite me some verses from the Portugese Shakespeare, Camoes,  who came to Goa in 1553. RED  rose […] Read more